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PM and BA Roles in Requirements and Project Communication

April 18, 2014
Dan Stober

leadercontract204865sCommunication is vital within projects and contributes significantly to project success.

Project managers (PMs) know that they have to construct a robust communication management plan for the overall project. The communication management plan should be designed in such a manner that it defines how project information will be handled: how the project team collects, generates, stores, distributes, and disposes of project information. Considerations will include who gets what information, when, why, in what format, and how and where project information will be archived.

For the business analyst (BA), communication management revolves around communicating requirements, which A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK® Guide) v2.0 states, “is essential for bringing stakeholders to a common understanding of requirements.” Of the primary underlying competencies of the trained BA, a thorough understanding of verbal communications, teaching skills, and written communications is among the most essential. Verbal communication skills are critical in requirements elicitation. The ability to conduct effective interviews, deliver presentations for stakeholders, and communicate in a simple, consistent manner is important. Teaching skills are required to ensure that all information that is communicated is understood and retained by the audience. Customizing communications to the stakeholder(s) is an important element of teaching skills. Written communication skills enable the BA to document requirements and elicitation results effectively. Both the PM and the BA need to have well-developed communication skills.

Requirements elicitation is the role of the BA. It is the BA who is responsible for developing the requirements elicitation plan and then getting the results of that elicitation to the PM. The PM is responsible for collecting requirements. The reason that the PM’s job is to collect requirements and not to elicit requirements is that it is assumed by the use of the word “collect” that elicitation, analysis, and documentation have been done by the BA. Collection is simply gathering something that is ready to be gathered.

While it is important for the PM to understand the different techniques and how they should be applied during elicitation, the PM should largely be focused on communicating overall project information to stakeholders, not with developing requirements. There are several ways that the PM can work with the BA to ensure that elicitation goes smoothly. Based on stakeholder analysis, the PM can assist the BA in developing a sound requirements elicitation plan. The PM needs to ensure that there is adequate time built into the project schedule to accommodate the plan, and he or she can act as a communication conduit for the stakeholders.

PMs should ensure that the elicitation plan that was put together by the BA and the requirements team supports overall project goals. Key stakeholders should be engaged in an appropriate manner, as should end users and technical stakeholders. Knowing what elicitation techniques to use, when to use them, and why, will enable the PM to verify that the elicitation plan is well thought out.

This is an excerpt from the Global Knowledge white paper, Intersecting Project Management and Business Analysis.