The British Computer Society’s outline of essential business analysts (BAs) skills these days includes elements of project and programme management.
Looking closely at advertised job roles’ listed requirements suggests that additional certifications such as PRINCE2®, PRINCE2 Agile®, MSP® and MoP® have become relevant to the BA role.
But why are BAs now expected to have project management skills?
Move to cross-functional and multi-skilled working
The traditional BA role was involved before and after a project: identifying problems and opportunities in an organization, seeking solutions, setting a strategy and analysing post-project benefits. A BA wasn’t assigned to a project but operated as a peer to a project manager.
However, business evolution means that – to compete effectively, transform and pivot as necessary – organizations need people skilled across disciplines.
In more mature project and programme environments, having multi-skilled people running change initiatives offers the benefits of pre-project analysis alongside the various stages of a project itself and then a smooth transition into business as usual. At that point, BAs can consider ongoing improvements.
Ultimately, this approach needs BAs trained in project management and – potentially –
project managers trained in business analysis. Evidence suggests that both sets of professionals now realize they have to adapt to changing times.
BAs and project management skills
Though BA and project management roles have complementary skills, they have always been distinct and separate. Now, the onset of digital transformation means the gap between the roles is narrowing.
So, BAs need to cultivate more of a project management mindset. As well as focusing on the output of a project, they have to support and develop their team and recognize the constraints of time, cost, scope and quality.
Along with the ability to think strategically, the BA today needs to know where a project fits in an overall programme of change and combine the ability to move with ease from granular, technical detail to higher level strategy.
Conversely, project managers need to understand the tools and techniques of the BA: it’s not just about getting from A to B and delivering output but having a wider perspective about how the project helps the business achieve its overall objectives.
PRINCE2 and PRINCE2 Agile for business analysts
For BAs needing to extend their skills base in the current jobs market, both PRINCE2 and PRINCE2 Agile are relevant. Possibly, the latter offers a broader application because of the increasing chance that a project would involve working with an Agile delivery team.
Running PRINCE2 projects as shown by the guidance would give BAs a high level of adaptability – in other words, providing a robust process but one that can be tailored to the circumstances. At the core of the guidance are processes that I believe BAs would appreciate and value when expected to run projects successfully.
And through the lens of the recruitment filter, there is a growing expectation that BAs can both run projects and be simultaneously more agile. PRINCE2 Agile gives practitioners access to both worlds – project governance and Agile delivery – which provides a flexible structure to handle the demands of modern projects.