Business Analysis in Project Management
Table of Contents
- What is Business Analysis?
- Business Analysis Importance
- Business Analyst Role
- Business Analysis Skills and Competencies
Project management is more about creating a product or service in the project to meet the project objectives. Business analysis in project management aims at understanding the needs of the business stakeholders and at defining the characteristics of the solution to meeting those needs. In organizations, the integration of these two disciplines can achieve excellent project performance.
What is Business Analysis?
As per the project management institute, business analysis in project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to determine problems and identify business needs; identify and recommend viable solutions for meeting those needs; elicit, document, and manage stakeholder requirements in order to meet business and project objectives; facilitate the successful implementation of the product, service, or end result of the program or project.
This broad definition of business analysis suggests that business analysis in PM involves effort in a variety of domains: from identifying business needs to solution implementation. Within each of these domains, there are a series of supporting business analysis tasks and activities.
The business analysis tasks refine the broad definition and provide specific information about other important aspects of business analysis, such as, facilitating the identification of problems or opportunity analysis for portfolio investment, understanding the business environmental context and constraints, analyzing requirements, verifying requirements, evaluating solutions, etc.
Business analysis process is conducted in support of many business initiatives, including portfolios, programs and projects, as well as ongoing operational activities, such as monitoring, modeling, and forecasting.
Business Analysis Importance
PMI research has also shown that improved business analysis skills can impact the success of an organization, including providing a competitive advantage in the marketplace. In the PMI research, business analysis was identified as a contributor to gaining a competitive advantage over the past five years by 81% of the business analysts who stated they work in an organization where business analysis skills and practices are considered highly mature.
In addition to skills development and business analysis process maturity, organizations are also taking steps to champion an improved and stronger integration of business analysis with project management, recognizing the contributions of each role in ensuring project execution success.
Organizations with high business analysis maturity levels believe that business analysis has a significant impact on their organization’s success. These organizations rank themselves higher than average with regard to the strategy implementation ability, agility, project management, and performance.
Business analysis process can be performed when creating or enhancing a product, resolving a problem, or seeking to understand stakeholder needs. The value of business analysis spans many industries and types of projects.
Effective business analysis enables individuals and groups to achieve better business outcomes and benefits. Effective business analysis helps address business needs; manage uncertainty and reduce rework; minimize product defects, and reduction in consumer confidence; and achieve high stakeholder satisfaction rates.
Business Analyst Role
Those who perform business analysis activities are commonly called business analysts, but there are business analysis professionals with other job titles who also perform business analysis activities.
How an organization uses business analysis resources; where these resources functionally report; and the type of industry, type of project, and type of project life cycle being used are some of the factors that influence how organizations title those who have the responsibility for business analysis in project management.
There are also many roles where business analysis is performed as a part of the role but is not necessarily the only responsibility. Enterprise and business architects; portfolio, program, project managers; and operational analysts are a few examples.
The evolution of the business analyst role is one of the reasons for the variety of job titles that exists today. Before business analysis was recognized as its own discipline, requirements-related activities were performed by various roles, such as project managers, program managers, developers, and product analysts.
Although the business analyst role has deep roots within the information technology industry, business analysis activities continue to be performed by many roles in non-IT environments. Business analysis can be performed when creating or enhancing a product, solving a problem, or seeking to understand customer needs.
Many industries and types of projects benefit from the business analysis process, including construction, infrastructure, health care, and manufacturing. Those who perform business analysis across industries may be called by various other titles rather than business analyst.
Business analysts may lead, but they do not oversee project resources; this is the work of the project manager. A lead business analyst may oversee the work of junior business analysts on the team, or a manager of business analysis may be responsible for managing a pool of business analyst resources. At the project level, it is the project manager who is responsible for resource allocation, scheduling, and work progress, including that of business analysts.
Business Analyst Skills and Competencies
Professional business analysts possess a variety of business analysis skills that enable them to operate successfully at a senior level. As a business analyst becomes more adept at these business analysis skills and acquires more project experience, the competency level of the business analyst increases.
Many of the interpersonal skills leveraged by project managers are equally important to the practice of business analysis. The following is a partial list of some important BA skills and expertise for anyone performing business analysis activities in project management: Analytical skills, cultural awareness, active listening, facilitation, decision making, leadership and negotiation skills, communication skills, and political awareness.
Analytical skills are utilized by the business analyst to process information of various types and at various levels of detail, look at it from different viewpoints, draw conclusions, distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant, and apply information to formulate decisions or solve problems.
Communication skills are utilized to provide, receive, or elicit information from various sources in the project. Due to the number of interactions that business analysts are required to manage and the amount of information that needs to be exchanged, these skills are some of the most critical ones for the business analyst to master.
Finally, leadership involves focusing the efforts of a group of people toward a common goal and enabling them to work as a team. Business analysts leverage these skills to lead groups of stakeholders through various forms of elicitation, to sort through stakeholder differences, to help the business reach decisions on requirements and priorities, and ultimately to gain buy-in to transition a solution into the business environment.
As a conclusion, the business analysis process and project management should be integrated throughout the project to achieve superior project performance, and support the business value creation in the organization.
For projects to be executed successfully and create its intended deliverables and expected benefits, project team need first to understand the need for organizational change, then, the business needs should identified, assesses, prioritized, and translated into a set of requirements (The business analyst role); at the same time, the project must be planned and executed, and throughout the project, the project team should adapt to the new needs that might arise from the business.
At the closure phase of the project, deliverables are being released to the business operations in the organization, the performance of the produced solution should be assessed to capture the constraints and opportunities to create more business value.
If what we explained in this article is part of your day-to-day job, or if you are interested in improving your knowledge in the business analysis field, we highly recommend you read about the PMI PBA certification exam through the link here. Also, you can have a look at the curriculum of our PMI PBA exam perpetration workshop through the link here.