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A Second Look under the Hood of the BA/PM Position Family

This is the sixth article in the series. In the previous article (A First Look under the Hood of the BA/PM Position Family) I defined the BA/PM position family and the career path sequence. Then I wrote the generic position descriptions of the six-position family. The structure and ordering of the six positions in the BA/PM landscape is now defined at the generic level. Each of the 36 cells in the BA/PM landscape has now been generically defined with respect to the BA/PM position family.

Depending on the extent to which project management and business analysis exists in your organization, there may be empty cells or cells with more than one position title in them. If your organization has more than one specific position title in a cell, then there will probably be some ordering of those position titles with respect to their skill and competency profile. So the career path may contain advancements to positions within a single cell. The minimum skill and competency profile required to enter a cell at the lowest position is work that still remains to be done. That will require a significant effort and help from both the PM and the BA side. That discussion is left for a future article.

A Deeper Look into the BA/PM Landscape

Since we now have a BA/PM generic position family defined and a career path for that family, Figure 1 takes on more meaning. An example will help. Figure 1 shows an individual whose current position is in the BA/pm Associate Manager cell. This person is a professional project manager with basic business analysis skills and competencies. This is a very common position. Recognizing the importance and value of having stronger business, their short-term goal is to have a position in the BA/PM Associate Manager cell. To do this, they will build a plan in their Professional Development Program (PDP) to accomplish their short-term career goal. Their PDP will focus on improving their business analysis skill and competency profile from that of a PM/ba Associate Manager to that of a PM/BA Associate Manager. The PDP for this person might contain the following strategies:

Experience Acquisition

  • Seek out project assignments that have more of a business analysis focus than they are accustomed to.
  • Support professionals who are more senior to you and have a business analysis skill that you need to improve to better meet current position requirements.

On-the-job Training

  • Look for opportunities to observe and support the business analysis work of BA/PM professionals
  • Take courses (on or off site) to enhance the business analysis skills required of your current position

Off-the-job Training

  • Take courses (on or off site) to add business analysis skills that will be required by your targeted position in the PM/BA Associate Manager cell
  • Look for opportunities to observe and support a professional practicing the business analysis skills you will need in your targeted position.

Professional Activities

  • Read books and journal articles on topics relevant to your targeted position in the PM/BA Associate Manager cell
  • Attend meetings and conferences offering seminars and workshops relevant to your targeted position in the PM/BA Associate Manager cell

Figure 1: Using the BA/PM Landscape for a Short-Term Professional Goal in the same Position

In my experience with PDPs they tend to cover an annual planning horizon with at least semi-annual status meetings with a mentor, or as needed meetings that you will request.

Figure 2 illustrates an example that is a little more complex. Here the short-term PDP is targeting a change from a position in the PM/ba Associate Manager cell to a position in the PM/ba Senior Manager cell. As you can see the Core, PM and ba skills profiles will be affected. The ba skills profile will be minimally affected only by the change of position level.

Figure 2: Using the BA/PM Landscape for a Short-Term Professional Goal at a Higher Level Position

Figure 3 is a combination of the situations depicted in Figures 1 and 2. It illustrates yet another example of a more complex situation than is illustrated in Figures 1 and 2. Here the change is not only to a higher level position (Associate Manager to Senior Manager) as was the case in Figure 2 but also to a position requiring a broader and deeper business analysis skills profile (ba to BA) as was the case in Figure 1. A career change like this may take some time to accomplish. Not only will the person need to acquire additional experience to qualify for the higher level position, they will also need to increase their business analysis experience, and skill and competency profile, to qualify for the higher level position’s business analysis requirements. A better professional development plan might be to follow one of the two-step strategies below:

PM/ba Associate Manager -> PM/BA Associate Manager -> PM/BA Senior Manager


PM/ba Associate Manager -> PM/ba Senior Manager -> PM/BA Senior Manager

The likely promotion opportunities may help you choose the better of the two strategies.

Figure 3: Using the BA/PM Landscape for a Longer-Term Professional Goal at a Higher Level Position

Career Planning Using the BA/PM Landscape

A section of the PDP should be devoted to long range career planning. The BA/PM landscape is a tool that can aid in the planning process. Figure 4 illustrates a career path leading from a position in the BA Team Member cell to a position in the BA/PM Senior Manager cell. The CareerAgent System that I mentioned in an earlier article (A First Pass at Defining the BA/PM Position Family) included a decision support system that helped the individual plan their career path down to the position title level within the cells. It mapped out a training and development sequence leading from position to position across the BA/PM landscape until the final career goal had been reached.

Figure 4: A Career Path from a Position in the BA Team Member Cell to a Position in the BA/PM Senior Manager Cell

As the plan is executed it will most likely change. Even the targeted position might change. There are several factors that will influence the plan and suggest revisions more compatible with the changing business environment and that offer more career growth and professional development opportunities.

A Call to Action

In the previous article (A First Look Under the Hood of the BA/PM Positin Family) I stated that this is a work in progress. I have participated in the development of similar structures for the IT professional but not for the BA/PM professional (or PM/BA if you prefer). Much remains to be done. I welcome a partner from the BA side to work with me in this challenging and valuable pursuit. It is my hope that I have launched this effort in a direction that ultimately will make sense across the entire BA and PM professional landscape. If you are interested in discussing a possible collaboration, you may reach me directly at [email protected].

Putting It All Together

In this article I have shown by example how the BA/PM landscape and BA/PM position family would be used in professional development and career planning.

The responses to the first five articles have been overwhelming. They have been both positive and negative. Being a change management advocate I am thankful for your interest but not surprised with your reactions. My hope is that we can continue the exchange. As always I welcome opposing positions and the opportunity to engage in public discussions. Your substantive comments are valuable. Criticism is fine and is expected but, in the spirit of agile project management, so are suggestions for improvement. Also in the spirit of agile project management, I am trying to find a solution to the career and professional development of the BA, BA/pm, BA/PM, PM/BA, PM/ba and PM.

I realize that I have taken a controversial position and in so doing have stepped out of my comfort zone and perhaps put myself in harm’s way. I do so intentionally. Through all of the earlier articles I hoped to get your attention and that has happened. In this and subsequent articles I hope to get you to start thinking about the care and feeding of a single BA/PM professional – one who is fully skilled in both disciplines. I have a very strong belief that there is a crying need for the BA/PM professional. As you dig deeper into the BA/PM through this series I ask that you approach my suggestions with an open mind and offer your ideas in this public forum.

Robert K. Wysocki, Ph.D., has over 40 years experience as a project management consultant and trainer, information systems manager, systems and management consultant, author, training developer and provider. He has written fourteen books on project management and information systems management. One of his books, Effective Project Management: Traditional, Adaptive, Extreme,3rd Edition, has been a best seller and is recommended by the Project Management Institute for the library of every project manager. He has over 30 publications in professional and trade journals and has made more than 100 presentations at professional and trade conferences and meetings. He has developed more than 20 project management courses and trained over 10,000 project managers.

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