Last week, I wrote about how project managers work and how it relates to OTOBOS. This week, I will explain what project managers value in their working relationships with business analysts.
BAs are architects to project managers. They are meticulous, they plan and build solutions, and they work in a systematic way. They often have to go through multiple iterations in order to find the right solution for the customer and business. Project managers love solutions. We like things neatly organized and ready to be implemented. We are impatient during the analysis phase and want to move on to the implementation of the BA’s great invention.
Communication is also important to us. It is not a good idea for you to keep all your knowledge to yourselves. It doesn’t make your abilities more powerful. It just makes it harder to work with. Everyone wants to work with people who make it easy. Communicate. Ask the project manager what they want and then give it to them. Weekly written updates, phone calls a few times per week or – God forbid – daily log of activities. This is a lot of work for me, but it all depends on the type and size of the project and whether you are a contractor.
Communication is only half the battle. Accurate estimates are equally important. It is not easy when so much of BA work depends on validation from end users and interviews. It is fine to give estimates within a range of time: 4-6 days, 15-days +/- 30%, etc. Even better is to give estimates that state that work will be completed by Wednesday afternoon at 3pm. However, in real life this is not often possible. This is because we usually have people available to complete the task, regardless of its outcome. A functional spec will be completed when it is ready and passed to a technical specialist to create the technical specification. Project managers can plan dates and resources better with accurate estimates.
Project managers appreciate it when you reach milestones in your planning. There are few reasons why you shouldn’t be able hit a milestone. And there is almost always something a PM could do to make it easier. We can, for example, provide more resources or do other tasks simultaneously. Or, worst case, move the milestone to a better date and reorganize everything around it.
We appreciate early warnings. If you know that you won’t reach a milestone, let the project manager know as soon as possible. We can help you get things back on track if you give us notice. We often have very limited options at the last minute.
Business analysts often have a deeper and more comprehensive view of the business than project managers and spend more time with business people. Early warnings are also available for risks and issues. Please let us know if you notice anything. Registering a risk early gives us a better chance of preventing it from happening.
Even so, we would prefer that there were no risks or issues and that everything worked out perfectly the first time. This is a problem for business analysts, and everyone, in fact, because so much of the job requires input from end-users who aren’t always right the first time. We value a right first time’ attitude even if it’s not practical. Rework and changes can be costly and complex. We can almost always accommodate changes but it is much easier to provide the key piece of software functionality that users need at the beginning than to realize we forgot it three weeks later.
Summarizing, project managers are valuable:
Accurate estimates
Reaching milestones
Early warnings
Right first time.

It boils down to helping us keep the