In my ProjectTimes article this month, I had written about the benefits of the symbiotic relationship between the roles of a project manager and a business analyst on a given project.
One of the most common business analyst complaints which I had shared was that project managers weren’t reading or understanding the requirements documentation which the analysts had created.
So why might this be an issue?
The purists among you might challenge my assertion that a project manager needs to have a reasonable grasp of domain knowledge related to their projects. After all, project management is project management – right?
Unfortunately, in many cases, the lack of some domain expertise on the part of the project manager increases overall risk to a project as the project manager will face greater uncertainty (hence more unknown-unknowns).
Reading and taking the time to understand the business requirements can help to bridge knowledge gaps. Beyond this, it will help the project manager to:
Manage scope creep and gold-plating – without understanding business requirements, the project manager would have to constantly engage the business analyst to determine if externally or internally driven change is outside approved scope boundaries.
Talk the (business) talk – by positioning recommendations, decisions or other “calls to action” based on their impact to business requirements, the project manager will stand a better chance of capturing their stakeholders’ attention and getting the desired action completed.
Engage their project team – while a project manager might eloquently articulate the expected business outcomes for their project, if they can’t help team members understand how the work they are assigned to links back to these outcomes, their task of gaining buy-in to this work will be much harder.
Having reviewed the list above, you might challenge me by saying that the business analyst should be the main source of knowledge who the project manager can draw upon.
While this is valid, it’s rare that a business analyst remains fully allocated to a project after requirements have been accepted, and while they can and should be consulted thereafter, this does not eliminate the benefits of having a project manager who is comfortable with What the customer asked for.