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The Project Management Office / Business Analysis Office Intersection
By Deborah Pratt

Many Project Management Office (PMO) process standards overlap with their Business Analysis Office (BAO) counterparts. This can potentially cause confusion and negatively impact projects. Common areas of misunderstanding include:

  • Risk Management and Change Management. Everyone knows that PMs manage project risks and changes. But BAs also identify and manage risk as well as changes to requirements. How are material risks and changes (e.g. those that impact scope, schedule, and quality) consistently escalated from the BA to the PM? Unclear expectations and/or failure to communicate risks and changes as soon as possible could place the project at even more risk.
  • Scope Management. Identification of project deliverables and development of the WBS are key components of this process. The PM is responsible for driving development of the Scope Statement. The BAs can (some would say should!) drive the identification of deliverables and development of the WBS. Note: time and cost management are also heavily dependent upon creation of an accurate WBS.

  • Stakeholder Management and Communication Management. Both BAs and PMs identify stakeholders and communicate with them. If PMs and BAs do not identify clear responsibilities and collaborate in these areas, stakeholders may receive conflicting messages. Or stakeholders, the PM, or the BA may not receive the information they need.

  • Integration Management. The Requirements Management Plan is typically created by the PM but used by the BAs. How does the PM work with the BA Lead to create a Requirements Management Plan that is effective? If the Requirements Management Plan needs to change, how is the PM informed? How could these changes impact the approved Project Management Plan and Work Plan?

To deliver projects on time, on budget, and meet project objectives, PMs and BAs must work together effectively. This will require up-front agreement from both the PMO and the BAO on:

  • People. Who does what? This question is especially important for organizations in which the PMs have historically led all major project activities. Both the PMO and BAO must clearly define responsibilities at a role and process level.
  • Process. All shared processes should be defined jointly by the PMO and BAO. Special attention should be placed on escalation and communication processes, as these are areas where breakdown – especially when the project is already at risk – can cause significant project impact.

  • Tools. Whenever possible, use the same tools for stakeholder, risk, issue, and change management. Create custom views of the data to make these tools easy to use.

  • Metrics. Agree upon common project metrics and use common tools to help capture the data required to calculate them. Also agree on the organization responsible for measuring and reporting the metric.

This process alignment is not easy, especially when either the PMO or BAO did not evolve with clear designation of common roles, processes, tools, and metrics. Ciber can help you create this alignment via your existing PMO and/or BAO, or help you stand up a new PMO and/or BAO that supports your organizational strategy.

Deborah Pratt is a Project Management Office Consultant at Ciber North America. Ciber helps clients solve problems and grow by driving tangible business results from their technology investments.

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