Managing a Group of Project Managers and Business Analysts


Several years ago, I had the opportunity to manage a group of project managers and business analysts. This article reminisces about what shaped my thoughts on managing such a group and hopefully gives you some considerations given the opportunity.

Past Experience

Past ExperiencePerhaps negative experiences impress us more than positive ones. What does not kill you, makes you stronger. In the area of managing a group of project managers and business analysts, two negative experiences stand out for me. I was a project manager engaged in a conversation with my boss on my development. I had worked for this person several years. I asked him if he had heard about a group called the “Project Management Institute.” He said “yes” and maybe he should expose the organization to the group. Maybe? I asked the question since I had been working as a project manager without guidance and frankly was a bit upset over the lack of leadership and development. I told myself, “isn’t that the role of management - to develop people.

In and out of the Organization

In and out of the OrganizationSoon after that meeting, I attended a conference led by a new Vice President over the department. He said that he wanted to improve the quality of our work products, but thought certifications were unnecessary. What? Unfortunately, his message lacked any follow-up on how to pursue his vision. He needed to provide a program of support for the staff to realize it. The new VP soon acquired the nick name bungee boss – arrived and quickly left with no impact.

Collaborative Objectives of PMs and BAs

The two negative experiences made an impression on me. A few of years later, I became the manager of a group of project managers/business analysts. One of the things I wanted to emphasize in the group was that PM and BAs are collaborators, but have different work goals:

  • Project Managers focus on project success – the triple constraint of a temporary ender – time, cost and scope
  • Business Analysts focus on business success – realize the business need in terms of profits/savings (private sector) or needed services (public sector)

As a manager of this PM/BA group, I supported this dual goal by providing programs for achieving personal goals inline with work goals:

  • Training – opportunities to learn and apply skills through formal courses and project assignments
  • Mentoring/Attending Conferences – develop/learn with others (i.e., sharing lessons learned)
  • Incentive – bonuses and recognition for earning certifications

These programs promoted skills that resulted in quality work products. But more than that, these programs gave people the highest level of job security – external job security – your worth to other firms, not just to your present firm.

Skills to Emphasize

Many skills for PMs and BAs can be found in Books of Knowledge 1, 2 for both certification organizations (PMI and IIBA) plus other publications. For this article, I list what I believe are the top four skills:

1) Facilitation – 98% of the work for these roles is communications in particular holding effective stakeholder meetings using:

a) Active Listening
b) Neutral posturing
c) Active Voice writing
d) Questioning

These and other facilitation techniques are needed for traditional projects (waterfall) and even more so for agile projects.

2) Risk Analysis – understanding where to find negative (threat) and positive (opportunity) risk:

a) Assumptions
b) Constraints
c) Dependencies
d) Resistance

And applying both negative and positive risk responses:

a) Accept (negative/positive)
b) Avoid (negative)
c) Mitigate (negative)
d) Transfer (negative)
e) Exploitation (positive)
f) Enhancing (positive)
g) Sharing (positive)
h) Monitor (positive/negative)

3) Process Modeling – designing, incremental improvement, and redesigning of workflows using:

a) Flowcharting,
b) Activity Models with swim lances
c) Business Process Modeling and Notation (BPMN) along with Decision Modeling and Notation (DMN)

4) Project Economics – justification of changes and realization of benefits for a business; benefits may be in terms of profits and/or cost savings (private sector) or needed services and/or cost saving (public sector)

There are several other skills of course, but these are the ones that I believe deserve priority. Facilitation to me is the most important. Too often I have seen PMs/BAs push change rather than pulling people to change by expressing urgency and building coalitions. Risk Analysis is second since all projects have risk that must be included in plans. Process Modeling is third since most projects require change or least a review of workflows; in fact the team needs to consider workflow changes prior to adding software. And the fourth is Project Economics. Everyone involved on a project needs to understand the business reason for the change; too often team members just do the work without knowing the benefits. This is especially true when requirements change. Unfortunately, many times the team assumes the train has left the station and benefits remain the same – perhaps the project needs to be canceled. Stop the train, I want to get off.

Group Results

I managed a PM/BA group for around 3 years. During my tenure the development of PM/BA professionals reached a level of 20% certifications with several projects that achieved both project and business successes. In addition, there was also an unexpected benefit. The group became an internal source for facilitators to the rest of the organization; neutral individuals to assist in meeting processes to insure a consensus or a compromise in decisions.

Hopefully, this road down memory lane, gives you some thoughts about managing a group of PM/BA positions. Given the opportunity, I recommend to pursue it.

Author: Mr. Monteleone holds a B.S. in physics and an M.S. in computing science from Texas A&M University. He is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP®) by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), a Certified Business is Professional (CBAP®) by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®), a Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) and Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) by the Scrum Alliance. He holds an Advanced Master's Certificate in Project Management and a Business Analyst Certification (CBA®) from George Washington University School of Business. Mark is also a member of the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering (AACE) and the International Association of Facilitators (IAF).

Mark is the President of Monteleone Consulting, LLC and author of the book, The 20 Minute Business Analyst: a collection of short articles, humorous stories, and quick reference cards for the busy analyst. He can be contacted via email - [email protected].





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