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Married with Children Volume 2: The Newlywed Game

As stated in Volume 1 of our “Married with Children” series on communication tips and tricks to a positive Project Manager/Business Analyst relationship, nothing can positively or negatively affect a project team more than the PM/BA relationship.

In The Dating Game we concentrated on the first date, or the PM/BA Kickoff Meeting, where the foundational structure of the PM/BA team is laid.

Now you’ve said “I Do”, have your new house, or project, and you find yourself married and living together in newlywed bliss. That’s the beginning of the marriage where things are going smoothly and everyone is excided. This is the optimum time to establish regular communications with each other so you both can grow and positively affect your project. It’s time to play The Newlywed Game, or quite simply have a PM/BA One-On-One. This is the project equivalent of “honey how was your day?”. For an effective PM/BA One-On-One, follow this simple guide:

1. Schedule It

The PM/BA One-On-One should be a weekly meeting where you can provide project updates to each other. It’s not a formal project status report, nor should it require documentation other than any deliverables that may come out of it. Each of you bring different perspectives and have different type of relationships with the same project team members. You may attend meetings the other may not attend. This is your chance to keep each other informed. Keeping a scheduled cadence offers you the ability to groom your relationship and can even be something you look forward to in times of project stress. Schedule a recurring meeting to carry you through the entire project duration.

2. Review the Project Status

Quickly review the project plan to have a joint understanding of where the project is at the moment. Similar to a scrum meeting, but at the project level, just provide a short completed this week/doing next week/roadblocks update so you both have a handle on where you may need to course correct and how you can support each other if needed.

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3. Review the BA Workplan Status

In any good marriage we learn to speak in each other’s language if we want to gain joint understanding and get things done. Having a weekly communication meeting speaks heavy to the BA’s communication preferences, but can seem non-productive to a PM if not approached with a plan and direction. An effective BA work plan contains a personal Work Breakdown Schedule, and is the single greatest thing you can create as a BA for your PM. It’s speaks in the language of the PM, and gives them an understanding of your personal impacts to the project schedule. It can also help them understand your work estimates more clearly and provide clarity for a PM that may have an idea that BA work is mainly comprised of gathering requirements. This document can also help drill home early in the relationship all the different tasks associated with BA work. The BA Workplan should include items such as BA tasks by project phase, estimated hours for tasks with start and end dates, completion percentages, and associated stakeholders.

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4. Provide Feedback

In “The Dating Game” we discussed creating a PM/BA Prenup or getting a handshake agreement on how to communicate issues, concerns, and provide mentoring or feedback to each other during the course of the project. The weekly PM/BA One-On-One is the perfect platform for following through on your agreements. This should be a safe place to go over anything each other has seen the other do, say or react to that could use some work On the flip side, highlight something that was awesome. Who better to mentor you than someone who sees you in action more than any one other individual on a project? Now don’t go crazy. You don’t have to be on the lookout for mentoring opportunities every week, or look for something to harp on…just state it if you see it and ask for advice if you need it.

The PM/BA One-On-One is your time to get project updates and feedback, but we are all human, and just as parents complain about their kids or their day at work, sometimes you may just use this meeting to complain to a sympathetic ear. As long as it’s not a habit that’s okay! It’s all part of relationship building. The important thing is that you meet and continue to groom and mature your partnership for the benefit of your project team or any future projects you may have together.

Be sure to look out for the next installment of the Married with Children series, The Happy Family – PM/BA Relationship Do’s.

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