The dynamic duo:
project managers & business analysts


Everyone needs a partner in crime—Starsky and Hutch, Batman and Robin, Mario and Luigi. You get the idea. You need someone who’s got your back no matter what comes your way. Someone who’s willing to investigate the project that’s landed (last minute) on your developer’s Kanban board, or the emergency OS upgrade your IT pros have been asked to implement that you may or may not feel is the right fit. But, if you’re the project manager, that’s not your decision. 

As a project manager, your role is to get projects done on time, on budget and within scope. And that’s where the role of a business analyst comes in. According to PMP® and PMI® certified expert, Casey Ayers, the working relationship between the duo is a lot like a head coach and general manager—or Batman and Robin if you prefer that analogy. In tandem, they achieve operational greatness for the entire organization. So, let’s take a closer look.

Business analysts vs. projects managers:
No, business analysts are not project managers

Project managers are now seen as essential team players across multiple industries (and thank goodness). We need them, we rely on them, they keep projects and process running. But the role of a business analyst? This role may not be widely understood. So, let’s begin by looking at what they aren’t: 

• First, they are not senior project managers. 

• Second, they’re not here to supervise project managers, nor do they see projects through from inception to completion. 

• Third, they do not monitor and track efficiencies of time management and scope.

• Lastly, business analysts are entirely different—and they’re here to help.

The role of a business analysts: 4 key areas 

The role of a business analyst generally begins before your project manager is brought into the scene. Overlap aside, business analysts should be focusing on four key areas to help your team reach its goals. 

Determining problems. Business analysts are taking a hard look at something within your company that isn’t going right. Whether it’s financial, technical or otherwise, these pros are on board to discover what may be the root cause of the issue. They are researching data, interviewing staff members, conducting market research and taking a deep dive into the issue. 

Identifying solutions. During the research phase, your business analysts is also discovering potential ways to leverage these issues and provide strategies for success.

Elicitation. With a variety of techniques like data analysis, prototyping, brainstorms, focus groups and surveys, business analysts can build a case for the next step.

Facilitating implementation. Everything leads up to building a plan of action and getting a proactive solution in place. This process is shared with the project manager.

Yes, your project manager is probably doing both (and what you can do about it)

There’s common overlap and shared responsibilities of both project management and business analysis roles. In smaller companies and teams, this gray area can result in a “mixed role.” Many project managers find themselves conducting elicitation and proposing project solutions. And, not every team is structured to include both positions. So, where do you start? How do you get buy-in for this role? 

First, set clear expectations for the project manager’s responsibilities in each project. If your project managers are conducting market research and analyzing data, or trying to solve a business problem, it’s time to hire a business snalyst. Second, get certified. A certified PMP earns more, on average, and the experience will help you learn to set boundaries around your position. 

Project managers and business analysts both contribute to higher productivity for the entire team. They set everyone up for success, and take numerous burdens off the shoulders of your developers and IT pros. When they’re happy, everyone is happy. 

Check out Casey Ayer’s PMI-PBA learning path for business analysts or tune into his on-demand presentation. 

Watch the webinar: Business Analysts & Project Managers: Understanding the Value 


PMP is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.


Lindsay Lauck

Lindsay Lauck is a branded content specialist at Pluralsight, which is a fancy title for writer. A transplant from Dallas, TX, she moved to SLC to enjoy the mountains. You can catch her sampling the local whiskey, working on her future rock career and online @botfriendly or