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White Paper

Playing the Joint Project Manager-Business Analyst Role

April 20, 2015
Adam McClellan


Being able to play both roles of a project manager (PM) and a business analyst (BA) is a great skillset to have. Learn how to ensure your team gets what it needs in these two key roles so that you all can deliver successfully.


Having a broad skill set is a mixed blessing sometimes. Knowing that you're capable of both analyzing and managing projects sets you up for the temptation-either yours or your manager's-to take on both tasks for a project. In and of itself, that's not a bad thing . . . as long as you have a clear sense of the challenges that await you and how to navigate them effectively.

It's true that the skillset that makes a good project manager (PM) has a lot in common with what makes a good business analyst (BA). But in practice, the two roles need to maintain significant differences in perspective in order to be effective. The PM is primarily focused on getting work done; the BA's attention is on building out the solution.

When these two roles partner effectively, there's a creative tension that drives the project towards success: the PM ensuring that a multitude of team members' progress in concert towards key dates and deliverables; the BA covering the problem space thoroughly to identify a solution that addresses the core business needs. Combining the two roles into one removes that opportunity for partnership . . . but it still can be effective in the right situations.

In this white paper, we'll take a look at what conditions are needed for effectively playing the two roles simultaneously. We'll start by looking at the commonalities and differences between the two roles, move on to highlighting key challenges related to a dual role approach, and then discuss some techniques to guide you in playing the dual role well-including the ability to identify when the dual role isn't realistic.

Competencies and Responsibilities

Good BAs and PMs have a lot of things in common – in fact, I'd make the claim that in order to excel at one role, you need, at the very least, to be good at the other.

But even on a typical dual-role project, there can be confusion and jostling regarding responsibilities for the project and how best to channel the skills and energy that each individual brings to the team. So before launching into how to play the two roles effectively simultaneously, let's take a quick look at the key commonalities and differences between the roles.


You can think of competencies as comprising the skills, behaviors, and knowledge that make up the effective practice of a given role. They don't guarantee success in the role, or for that matter on a specific project-but they do help to build your chances.

So what does it take to play these two roles well? The table below outlines competencies related to each role.

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