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

formerly of Professional Project Services, LCC

Rescue the Problem Project Book and Study Guide Reviews

I am pleased to announce that I have published reviews for both Rescue the Problem Project: A Complete Guide to Identifying, Preventing, and Recovering from Project Failure
by Todd C. Williams and A Learning Guide For “Rescue The Problem Project” (pduOTD Primer Series) by Martin Chernenkoff.

Click the links above to find full reviews and purchase your own copies!

Do Not Miss This Critical Piece of Information for Project Success

I have a new appreciation for a specific project need after teaching a Mastering Requirements course earlier this week. I had asked the participants to come up with examples of goals or requirements for a situational software product. However, I did not offer them the two most important pieces of information, the project vision and objectives. It was an oversight on my part. I erroneously thought that they would automatically have the same vision as I if I provided a clear project title such as Classes Registration System. Two things happened.

They had a hard time getting started on who the users and their goals would be for the system. There wasn’t a clear place to start without knowing whose problem they were trying to solve or what the objectives of the project were. Instead they would tentatively put an idea out and look for clues that they were on the right track. The ideas were rolling once I said “the project is…” and “the objectives are …” You could see the light bulb turn on, “oh, so that’s what we’re doing.”

Another exercise was to take a stakeholder statement “I want full details on students” and interview me to get to the real need. I inadvertently tripled the size of the project by adding requirements related to a Customer Relations Management (CRM) system. Lucky for all of us, one clever participant spoke up, “I thought this was a class registration system. It sounds like you want a CRM solution for marketing.”  Oops…busted! Yes, I was the scope creep.

It is much easier to call “creep” on an instructor in a classroom setting then it is an executive manager within your organization. You are likely to run into “just do it” even if you do say something. Your best defense…a clear, documented vision and objectives for the project to serve as a guide and negotiation tool.

Vision – a description of how the world looks after project implementation.

Students will be able to sign up for designated classes and the organization will have a record of who has attended what classes.

Objectives – expected measurable results from project implementation.

  • Reduce overall staff time required per student registration by 75%
  • Time to complete inquiry of student participation is not more than 10 minutes (from opened to responded)

Responding to ideas outside of the vision and objectives become much easier with this context. Now the BA can respond with “how will that help us meet the objectives of the project?” when the business owner says “I want the student’s home address so that I can send a Christmas card”. While having other features may be nice and add value, it clearly does not fit into the intent of the funded, schedule project. Scope creep diverted – schedule and budget saved.

How many “quick, little projects” have you worked on where the vision and objectives were assumed rather than documented? I’ll admit it, I’ve seen a few. It won’t happen on my projects, or in my class, after seeing the difference that simply documenting and agreeing to these makes. That doesn’t mean I won’t try to trick students so that we can practice scope negotiation in the future.

More information on this class is available at Contact me to bring this class to your area.

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

Project Managers vs. Business Analysts

Event Announcement

Friday 6/1/2012 – PMChat Topic is Project Managers vs. Business Analysts 

I will participating in this event at the invitation of Robert Kelly and Rob Prinzo, PM Chat hosts. This is a great forum to share information and ideas with project peers. Find more information and archives to past topics at
I am thrilled to announce that Elizabeth Larson will be co-guesting with me. The supporting article from Elizabeth is now online at…tnership/.

2012 – Year of the Business Analyst…Almost

Chinese astrology says 2012 is the year of the dragon. In technology, it is the year of the Business Analyst. Unlike the dragon, growth of the business analyst will be subtle and take some time. Organizations will first begin to understand the role and value of the business analyst.

Current economic struggles require organizations today need to do more with less. 2012 predictions for technology brings a shift in project success defined as simply on schedule, on budget, and within scope to projects that give the business value. This is a clear opening for growth in the business analysis profession. It is up to business analysts to prove their value on projects and to the organization.

Business analysts will offer the greatest value when they collaborate with project managers and executives responsible for the initiatives. We have the key in providing the information that supports decisions that bring greatest value to projects. This includes providing information that supports making the best decisions on project scope. We must also provide project managers the detail, support, and customer interaction that supports developing that scope to bring value to the business and the users. This means breaking past documenting user “wants” and conducting analysis that help us understand the “needs” that will bring business value, and convincing decision makers of the best course of action.

There is good news as we face this challenge in that there are many resources to guide us as we move in this new direction. The International Institute of Business Analysis ® has been around since 2003 providing guidance and best practices in business analysis. This goes far beyond project requirements and includes study in knowledge areas of Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring, Elicitation, Requirements Management and Communication, Enterprise Analysis, Requirements Analysis, and Solution Assessment and Validation. Visit for more information. The Guide to Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK®) is just one benefit of membership. Membership also gains you access to thousands of books and articles online to help the business analyst navigate through this exciting profession.

Learn more about the role of the business analyst, project sponsor, and project manager in bringing business value with projects at the IPMA Forum on May 23, 2012 at 2:30 pm at Worthington Center, Lacey, Washington.

Secrets to More Subscribers, Readers, and Referrals from Your Email Marketing Campaign

“Social media is the word-of-mouth on steroids.” Dana Pethia

Yesterday I attended a Small Business Event hosted by Constant Contact and the Thurston Chamber. I had signed up specifically to hear Dana Pethia and to learn more about Constant Contact as an email service for Professional Project Services and a couple of professional organizations that I support. What I came away with was also a wealth of best practices in email and social media marketing to share with my consultant and small business friends.

Having an email list allows you to send information to those that have indicated an interest. Email is a way to establish a relationship with the customer and let them know your services, accomplishments, and ways you can help them. It keeps you visible so that they remember you and your services. Email has an added benefit of being easy to forward making it easier for subscribers to refer you to their friends. An email service makes establishing, maintaining, and distributing to your email subscribers easy and efficient.

Get subscribers

  • Ask! 57% of customers will fill out a card for email alerts
  • Offer information in exchange for subscription (an article, presentation, coupon)
  • Use a QR code to point smart phone users to an email sign-up form
  • Provide a “text to join” option
  • Include a link to sign up in your business email signature
  • Add an email sign-up link to your social media account profiles
  • Establish email segments to allow customers to sign up for specific topics that interest them
  • Do not ask for more than five bits of information on the sign-up form
  • Establish and share a privacy policy indicating you will not share or sell email addresses
  • Let people know what they will get and how often
  • Provide a previous sample to show potential customer what they will receive

Get Readers

  • The From line should show that the email is from you or your business, not an email service
  • The Subject line should provide incentive to open email. Not summarize all that is in the newsletter
  • Use links to point to online content. Do not fill the email body up with too much information
  • Use formatting, pictures, and white spaces (how about a relevant cartoon or video) to make your email visually appealing and easy to read

Get Referrals

  • Share your email online archive across all of your social media sites so to make it easy for your connections broadcast
  • Include a share bar (tool for the reader to share your information) in your emails to make it easy for readers to forward
  • Ask subscribers to share your content
  • Offer discounts or incentives for customers that provide referrals

This is timely information as I start thinking about my next monthly newsletter. I now have some improvements and changes to make. In the meantime, please join my email list to get my monthly newsletter, discounts, and goodies. Thank you!

See the event flyer for more information on sponsors and speakers of this great event.


Disclaimer: The workshop was hosted by Constant Contact. There are other services available that provide similar functionality including MailChimp, AWeber, Your Mailing List Provider, and more. This is not intended to be a specific endorsement of Constant Contact.

The Complete Project Manager

Find out what The Complete Project Manager (Englund and Bucero) and Strategies for Sponsorship (James, Rosenhead, and Taylor) have in common at

Poll Results: Who is responsible for ensuring project value?

I recently cross-posted a poll in a couple of different locations. The majority of responses came from this LinkedIn poll. The biggest value of the poll is in the comments. They are worth a good read. I will be writing an article based on the information collected and my thoughts. Here are the raw results in the meantime.

A few notes:

  • Many commented that they did not like having to select a single role, that it is the team’s responsibility to ensure project value.
  • The wording of the poll was questioned. I agree! A better question would have been “Who is responsible for ensuring the project delivers business value?”
  • In a different context, the use of “business owner” was questioned. In the article I will be referring to this role as the Customer/SME.

Here is a preview of what is to come in the article.

Thank you for your participation and comments. Keep them coming!

Project Management Communication Posts: Best of the Best

I often think back to three specific posts when talking to project managers about the role of communication in successful projects. In fact, I have taken concepts of each of these to create my Unlock Your Project’s Potential with Great Communication presentation. This presentation was a great success and I look forward to additional presentations.

Now available – 1-Day workshop based on this collection of articles

Communication Secrets for Project Success

Here are my “best of the best” from PPS for project communication.


  1. Do you have the Key to Success for Your Projects?
  2. A Case for Communicating Project Challenges
  3. What Makes for Good Communication?
  4. (Oops – let’s make that 4) It Starts with You: Explore Team Communication Breakdown

Enjoy and share!

IIBA and PMI Chapters, I will speak at your chapter for only the cost of travel plus a $25 honorarium. This offer is available first come, first serve at two presentations per month. Only one presentation per chapter please. The honorarium helps  me to qualify as a professional member of the National Speakers Association.

Mastering Requirements with Use Cases, User Stories and More (2-Day Class)

Read any article on the challenges that projects face today and you will find “requirements” in the top two. Many of us have taken various courses on one tool or another, yet find the techniques hard to apply in our real work on a consistent basis. The problem is that there is not a one-size-fits-all method to elicit requirements that will bring the most value to your project. Great requirements call for changing how you elicit, communicate, organize, and prioritize requirements based on the specific project and organizational culture.

This comprehensive two-day class will provide business analysts with the information they need to develop great requirements. Participants will learn how to develop use cases and user stories to support their projects. The class will also provide information on modeling, organizing, prioritizing, and communicating requirements. Students will gain an understanding that helps them decide when to use each practice and how much effort is required to get the most out of them. Included is a demonstration of a requirements management tool to help participants understand the value and benefits of purchasing a solution.


This class is for anybody who has responsibility for delivering quality requirements.

What you will learn

  • Confidently write and evaluate use cases, user stories, and detailed requirements
  • Know when to use each tool to maximize your time in developing high value requirements
  • Manage, prioritize, and communicate requirements
  • Understand requirements management systems

About Vicki James

Vicki James has been involved in project development since 1999, serving as both business analyst and project manager. She is both PMP and CBAP certified. She is a skilled trainer, presenter, and facilitator with a passion to share best practices to make the lives of her others easier and more productive. Vicki is a known expert in her field, having provided guest blog posts for Karl Wiegers,, Ah Ha Moments, and PM Chat post and web radio program. Her blend of expertise in project management and business analysis gives her insight to set the stage for a project environment that fosters success.

Included with course 

  • Wiegers, K. E. Software Requirements, Second Edition. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Press, 2003.
  • Cohn, M. User Stories Applied, for Agile Software Development. Boston, MA: Addison-Wesley Professional, 2004.

Contact me at or 360.951.1873 to schedule this training for your organization.

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