And to keep things fair, I also reached out to several business analysts I trusted and valued the opinions of and asked them what they wanted their project managers excel at. After all, turnabout is fair play, right?
That said....here's the list of seven. As you read through this...whether you are a project manager or business analyst,
be thinking about what your own list might look like and please share those thoughts. This is certainly not a complete list...but it's a start.
Trust and delegation. Business analysts tend to be as independent thinking as project managers are. What does that ultimately mean? They want to be left alone to do their jobs and do them well. They do not want micro-managing project managers hovering overhead. That's not a problem for me because I don't have time to hover. I prefer to staff a project with good people with the right skills and delegate...trusting they can get the job done. Keep them informed and monitor progress, but don't interfere unless you're needed or unless performance becomes an issue. In other words...let things happen and no one gets hurt.
Manage the customer. Customers want updates on their project. They are spending the money so they want to know where it's going and if progress is being made. And in between the meaningful stuff that the business analyst has to relay on to the client, there is all the other “communication” that just has to happen but doesn't add much – if any – value to the project. They want the project manager to handle that and they should want that as it is the PM's job. But on too many projects the project manager is overloaded or not competent enough or not managing the project very will so the customer is constantly going to the business analyst for information. That should not have to happen.
Keep senior management at bay. We love our senior management in these big organizations. We really do. Or at least we acknowledge that we need them from time to time. We need them to fund our project efforts. We need them to pay for training and outside vendors and new tools and technology. We need them to knock down project roadblocks when they come up. And we also need them to stay out of the way most of the time. The business analyst wants the project manager to make sure that happens. Get what we need out of the executives to make our projects successful like the right resources, funding, and support. And then stay out of the way. All that is the project manager's job to make happen and the business analyst wants his project manager to be able to take care of that daily.
Run the show. The business analyst wants to always be confident that the project manager is running the show. And by that I mean they want to know that the project manager is “in charge” and “on top of it” and is in communication with the customer and taking care of requests and things that come up and keeping the team informed as needed and up to date at all times. Just like they don't want to be micro-managed by the project manager, they also don't want to have to micro-communicate with them either. Trust that everyone is doing their job and that the project manager is always working in the best interest of the team and the project.
Make the decisions that need to be made. All good project managers should be good, decisive, and confident decision makers. Not that business analysts shouldn't and won't make key decisions on the project. Project managers need to empower the good business analysts out there to make critical decisions for the project when necessary and the project managers need to trust that their business analysts can make those decisions and make the right or best decisions possible and follow through on those decisions.
Let the team function. The project team is the project manager's to manage. No doubt about that. But often the PM is busy with project status reports, client meeting preparations, schedule revisions, budget forecasting and analysis, resource forecasting...the list goes on and on. So the business analyst wants his project manager to let the team function while that is going on. What that means, is this...trust that the team is going down the right path and let them go. The business analyst can “manage” the team at times so let him. And trust that he can and will handle it well.
Sometimes...be the notetaker. The business analyst wants and needs the project manager to run the show – as mentioned above. But there are those times when the business analyst needs someone by their side to take notes...and participate. I've done that with my business analysts many times at different points of the project like when they are leading a functional design session, or a requirements definition session or preparing for user acceptance testing with the customer. Someone has to take notes and help follow up on communication with the customer – might as well be someone who is very knowledgeable about every aspect of the project like the project manager so the information is accurate and timely and efficiently preserved.
Summary / call for input
So, now we have a list for both the project manager of what the business analyst wants them to excel at and the other way around – for the business analyst of what the project manager wants them to excel at...the sister article to this one. Readers – what is your view on this list? Business analysts...do you feel this is a good list? Just the tip of the iceberg possibly? What would you change about it or add to it? From your experiences, what do you most want your project managers to be good at? Please share and discuss.