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Monday, January 2, 2012

Understanding the slash

When you are assigned to be a “slash” – a business analyst / project manager – the important thing to remember is the focus. The business analyst has a different focus than the project manager. In most cases the tasks performed are quite similar – both roles communicate; both roles define and solve problems; both roles assess and deal with risk; both roles handle expectations, stakeholders and change requests, and so forth. However the focus of those tasks is different. The business analyst focuses on the business or product aspects of the solution while the project manager focuses on the project aspect solution, how the solution is going to be implemented and delivered. The ‘slash” can be seen as more than simply a convenient grammatical symbol to show the combination of roles. It can be seen as a divider of focus. The question is where that divider falls. When there are two players taking on the roles of business analyst and project manager, the dividing line can be set by mutual agreement and the tasks assigned between them. When there is just you handling both sides, it should be easier to come to an agreement with yourself about which role does what. Unfortunately because the tasks are so similar we tend to blur the division and that is where we run into trouble.
The idea is to separate the two focuses so that we truly focus on only one side of the slash at a time. How do we do that? I’ll have some tips in the next entry.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Steve, thanks for these last two posts on the "slash" scenarios that BAs are becoming more and more embroiled in. I started a year ago at my current company as an intermediate BA with the objective, as explained to me at the time, that I would be needed to help mature the org's BA practices. However, before long, I was also asked to take on a PM role for some of the smaller projects in addition, which I have found somewhat challenging in terms of when to put on which "focus hat" at any given time in the project while still ensuring that the BA activities that need to be done are done thoroughly. I'll be interested to hear more regarding your ideas on how to properly balance the two responsibilities.