PM and BA – The Dynamic Duo

By Prassede Colombo, President, IIBA Italy Chapter, Partner PMProgetti
I’d like to share some key messages discussed during the event organized by the IIBA® Italy Chapter and PMI®-NIC (about 400 participants).
Business Analysis is the practice of enabling change. BA competencies are key for understanding business problems and opportunities, recommending solutions that enable the organizations to achieve their goals in the context of the requirements. Business Analyst should be considered as “Change Agent, Facilitator, Analyzer, Advisor, Leader” for the Requirements in order to guarantee the Solution alignment to the Business Value, before, during and after the project."
imageWhen the Business Requirements are clear and the BA approach is applied, the Project Manager can better address the project work in the right direction. During the project, the BA is responsible for the requirements, traceability and solution validation, reporting to the PM, who is accountable for the project. When the project closes the BA is accountable for the assessment of the performances and acts for improvements.
Business Analysis increases project value through a better beginning, prioritization, the discovery of new requirements on time and the increase of understanding among stakeholders, all of which leads to an improvement of the change process. It decreases project costs through better documentation of the requirements which can reduce rework, shorten the project, prevent stakeholders from wasting their time, and discovering more cost-effective solutions.
The PM/BA should be a peer-to-peer relationship. It’s crucial to clarify the RACI matrix at the beginning and to assign a strong Project Manager and a strong Business Analyst for the success of the project.
A current practice, as reported by Telecom Italia, Vodafone, BV Tech, NIS is to have a unique person as PM and BA.
This practice could be risky and it’s not easy to perform. If you are a Strong PM-Weak BA, requirements could be rushed, some may be missed, and last-minute rework could be needed, causing customer dissatisfaction. If you are a Weak PM-Strong BA, you could dedicate too much time developing requirements, the project could fall behind schedule and “scope creep” may occur.
Organizations need to reach the awareness of the required competencies to achieve good performance in Business Analysis and Project Management. They need to assess the competencies and the IIBA® Business Analysis Competency Model is helpful.
In organizations there are many unaware Business Analysts and it should be understood how to better engage them in projects. To achieve this some organizations are developing Centers of Competency for Business Analysis, are hiring strong BAs, or are empowering the best PM.
The solution requires good Enterprise Analysis depending on the business need and the AS IS Status (context, size of projects, existing roles, organization structure, the Project Management and Business Analysis Maturity).
Keep in mind that Business Analysis is a profession just as Project Management is. If you want to maintain the two professions at a high level you could compromise the result of one of them. This is the challenge…

PM&BA: Mastering the Requirements
By Michele Maritato, IIBA Board Director, Partner PMProgetti

Requirements are gathered and managed iteratively throughout the project, at different levels and with a different focus. The best practices of the Business Analysis discipline suggest that for effective management of requirements, the project should follow a “schema” that begins with the identification of the Business Requirements and progress with the Stakeholder, Solution and Transition Requirements (BABOK® Guide). This categorization has also been recently adopted by the PMBOK® Guide and it provides the Project Managers with a very powerful frame for collecting and managing the project requirements. Keep in mind that early requirements are manifested even before the project is initiated, then during the project and eventually also after the project is closed: the Project Manager must have the capability to keep the project linked to this continuous “stream” of requirements, if the project intends to deliver high value to the business. So it’s crucial to put together a BA and PM approach. A framework for mastering the requirements throughout a project was presented. The approach described below can be applied to all requirements and consists of 5 Stages.

Preparing – Requirements Management Plan
By Vito Savino - Manager at SGS Banco Popolare

In the initial phase of a project we have to define specific rules and processes needed to better organize the collection and management of requirements. These processes, that include prioritization, traceability, change management and requirements attributes definition, represent themselves as the “Requirements Management Plan”.
A good Requirements Management Plan will help the Business Analyst have a clear picture of the situation and take the right actions without distractions and deviations from the real goal, avoiding the unhappy experience of “Little Red Riding Hood” with the cunning and hungry wolf in the famous tale.

Preparing – Prioritize and Trace Requirements
By Luigi Pantarotto, IIBA Italy Chapter VP Marketing, Business Advisor at SAS

In the ICT World, Gartner says that Requirements Management must confront new disruptive external forces: Generation Y will make in the future the 'Buy' paradigm preferred over 'Make' and a gap in the ability to measure, align and manage Business Value is emerging. Prioritization is key to focusing efforts to achieve the maximum Business Value. Lessons learned are discussed and a prioritization by consensus exercise is performed with the audience, using the Voting technique. But in a world of complex Business Solutions, Tracing is key as well, in order to trace back solutions requirements to original or new business requirements. The example is from a Marketing Business Solution, where a simple coverage matrix allows tracing back of solution requirements to different possible business requirements.

Eliciting the Requirements
By Luigi Rega, IIBA Italy Chapter Secretary, Consultant at Reply

Elicitation is a very creative and challenging activity, necessary to “evoke”, “draw out”, “bring to light” the requirements from all the stakeholders. Indeed, if done badly, it may add sensitive risks to projects. That’s why the PM&BA shall work together to involve the stakeholders properly, and the elicitation shall not be limited to just gathering requirements, but shall engage the stakeholders proactively. Several techniques are described in the BABOK® Guide: among them, prototyping can be used successfully to stimulate elicitation of requirements in early phases of projects, especially if the BA gives the right importance to feedbacks. Also, requirements elicitation is essential to avoid the common enemy of PM&BA: scope creep.

Approval Requirements
By Gaetano Lombardi, Program Manager at Ericsson

Many organizations have a formal process of "sign-off" or approval where the customer or project sponsor formally agrees to the requirements that have been captured. In the case study it is presented how the approval of requirements can be linked to business process, in the specific product development process using a gate stage model, and therefore ensuring the dynamic of business decisions as requirements very likely will still change after sign-off. In that perspective, project teams must adapt the requirements change procedure that stakeholders can fall back or when indeed requirements change naturally and then link to the business decision process. The project manager shall explain the impact on the project’s schedule and budget to the stakeholders to get a new approval. In the case study and because of the inherent requirements dynamic, the presentation outlined the advantage of using agile methods and the agile project life cycle instead of the classical waterfall model. Agile methods in fact acknowledge requirements change and provide much flexibility in managing the scope, therefore having a quicker turnaround of requirements than standard techniques.