Vicki James, PMP, CBAP, PMI-PBA, CSM

formerly of Professional Project Services, LCC

The Project Manager vs. the Business Analyst

I have a hard time deciding whether “versus” is a good word to compare the two roles. On one hand, the project manager and business analyst should be working collaboratively. On the other hand, the two roles do offer a healthy contest in project related decisions. The issue at hand is that there is a lot of uncertainty about the difference in these roles. The result of this uncertainty is cases where one person plays both roles without enough skills for each, and other cases where the team members do not know who is responsible for what. Hopefully, we can clear this up.

The core of the difference is in the title.

  • The Project Manager manages the project – “The application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to provide activities to meet the project requirements.”
  • The Business Analyst conducts business analysis – “The set of tasks and techniques used to work as a liaison among stakeholders to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable the organization to meet its goals.

One source of confusion is the activities in both sets of tasks according to the relevant Body of Knowledge[i]. The intent is that planning and monitoring tasks within the BABOK® are limited to business analysis activities as indicated by the task title.

  • 4.2 Develop Project Management Plan
  • 2.3 Plan Business Analysis Activities
  • 2.5 Plan Requirements Management
  • 2.6 Manage Business Analysis Performance
  • 4.4 Monitor and Control Project Work
  • 2.6 Manage Business Analysis Performance
  • 5.1 Collect Requirements
  • 2.5 Plan Requirements Management Process
  • 3.1-4 Elicitation: Prepare, Conduct, Document, Confirm
  • 4.2 Manage Requirements Traceability
  • Requirements Documentation
  • 5.2 Define Scope
  • 5.4 Define Solution Scope
  • 5.3 Create WBS
  • 4.1 Manage Solution Scope
  • 5.4 Define Solution Scope
  • 5.4 Verify Scope
  • 7.5 Validate Solution
  • 8.3 Perform Quality Control (Testing-monitoring and recording results)
  • 7.6 Evaluate Solution Performance(Results analysis and recommendation)
  • 10.1 Identify Stakeholders
  • 2.2 Conduct Stakeholder Analysis
  • 10.2 Plan Communications
  • 2.4 Plan Business Analysis Communication
  • 10.3 Distribute Information
  • 4.5 Communicate Requirements
  • 10.5 Report Performance
  • 2.6 Manage Business Analysis Performance

* Thank you to Elizabeth Larson for review and advice to the PMBOK® / BABOK® process mapping.

Stakeholder analysis is one good example of collaboration between project manager and business analyst. The business analyst focuses on stakeholders specific to the requirements and scope of the project. The project manager is looking beyond this to stakeholders whose interest is outside of the project scope. Perhaps the project manager is recording a competitor as a stakeholder to aid in the identification and tracking of potential project risk. The stakeholder analysis is a joint effort. Assign items resulting from the stakeholder analysis to either the project manager or business analyst based on stakeholder interest and influence.

Another point of confusion is in the PMBOK® task of Collecting Requirements. It looks as though the project manager is responsible for collecting requirements. When you look further at the PMBOK® tasks you also find Perform Quality Control, yet we know the project team has members responsible for product quality. The intent of the PMBOK© is that project managers take responsibility to ensure activities for collecting requirements are covered in the project management plan and monitored along with the project. Not the project manager collects the requirements.

Section 5.1 of the CBAP® Handbook does a great job of differentiating “analysis” activities from other activities. Download the CBAP ® handbook from the Certified Business Analysis Professional™ (CBAP®) website for detailed examples of these activities.

Volunteers from both the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®) and Project Management Institute (PMI©) joined in a collaborative project to “facilitate a shared understanding of the roles.” You can read more on this effort and results at  The conclusion –

Both the PM and BA play leadership roles—the PM for leading the team and delivering the solution and the BA for ensuring that the solution meets the business need and aligns with business and project objectives. And both roles, equally, are required for project success.

You will get decisions based on full information of the impacts to the project and the benefit of the solution when you have both a strong PM and BA playing leadership roles on your projects. The result is a project that brings greatest business value to the organization.

I had the distinct pleasure of joining Elizabeth Larson, PMP, CBAP, CSM, as guest experts on PMChat (a weekly Internet radio show/Twitter web chat) to discuss the BA and PM roles on June 1, 2012. Listen here to catch our interview hosted by Robert Kelly and Rob Prinzo for more on this subject.

September 2015 Update: Please check out my book, Leveraging Business Analysis for Project Success Book Cover Image (Business Expert Press 2015), for more on the role of the business analysis and discussion of the Power Project Team.

[i] Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) 4th Edition

A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK® Guide) Version 2.0


Listen to internet radio with KellyProjectSolutions on Blog Talk Radio

20 responses to “The Project Manager vs. the Business Analyst

  1. Pingback: Creative Agency Process

  2. Pingback: How to Help Resolve Business Arguments « Facilitative Leadership & Facilitator Training

  3. Pingback: Meeting Participation Tips (Part 3 of 3—The Wrap) « Facilitative Leadership & Facilitator Training

  4. Pingback: PMBOK or PRINCE … which one is better? « Project Management in Practice

  5. Pingback: Of pointy umbrellas on public transport | Brilliant Baselines

  6. Centrino March 9, 2013 at 5:18 am

    Great article thank you !
    How would compare the PM role vs The Team Leader role ?
    Are there overlaps or not ? Who should participate in the Requirements workshops, etc… ?

    • vickipps March 9, 2013 at 8:04 am

      Thank you for your comments. The PM remains the team leader. The BA is member of the project team leading a specific focus of the project, just as the lead developer (for example). The areas of overlap become a shared responsibility with the PM having responsibility bringing it together for the overall project plan and progress. The PM and BA will work more as peers when both are great at what they do and they have a good working relationship. The BA should be part of the project leadership to have the voice and authority to make recommendations in the best interest of bringing the organization value – even if it means changes to scope, schedule, and budget.

      I have an article on Modern Analyst that talks more about responsibility for project success that may help pull this together –

      • Centrino March 9, 2013 at 10:20 am

        Thank you for your fast reply and your link – I’ll have a read at your article !
        Greeting from Brussels 🙂

  7. Pingback: So You Want to be a Business Analyst…or perhaps you already are | Professional Project Services

  8. Saurabh Munot November 13, 2013 at 8:50 am

    can we hire a project manager for a business analyst position?

    • vickipps November 13, 2013 at 9:54 am

      Many project professionals have skills in each. You will want to evaluate their skills and competencies in business analysis. Being a good project manager in and of itself does not make a good Business Analyst. You need to determine if this person is good at both. I posted an unscientific quiz to gauge natural tendencies at There may be something you can take from here that will help you determine this.

      Thanks for the question!

  9. Pingback: Change Management as Part of Project Management | Kevin Taylor

  10. Pingback: Today I read …”How to Use Enterprise Architecture to Deliver the Right Solution” | MarkjOwen's Blog

  11. Pingback: Meeting Participation Tips (Part 3 of 3—The Wrap) | Facilitative Leadership & Facilitator Training

  12. Pingback: Project Management Institute Bangkok Chapter (Thailand)

  13. Pingback: Is this a sign that the PMI’s BA certification is of more value? | MarkjOwen's Blog

  14. Pingback: The BA is the least knowledgeable about Agile | MarkjOwen's Blog

  15. Pingback: The Power Project Team | Professional Project Services, LCC

  16. Pingback: The BA is the least knowledgeable about Agile – MarkJOwen

  17. Pingback: Business Analyst Vs Developer | Engine Health Care

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: