Understanding the role of a business analyst and a project manager using a simple analogy
By Oswin Newton Kakumanu
Often, in most of the workshops that I conduct, one of the frequently asked question is about the roles of a business analyst and that of a project manager. I usually give the analogy of a consultant physician at a hospital.
A patient who walks into a hospital is usually referred to a consultant physician who
examines the patient thoroughly. At times, the patient would not know where the
problem lies, and it is the responsibility of the consultant physician to
conduct the needed examinations to determine the problem of the patient. Once
the problem has been identified and the needed results are obtained, the consultant
physician suggests a solution to the problem and refers the patient to a
specialist consultant who tries to resolve the problem by either conducting a
surgical or non-surgical procedure. Once the correction has been made, the
consultant physician checks the patient post correction to see if everything is
In the analogy that we talked about, the patient is an enterprise or a subset of an
enterprise. The consultant physician is the business analyst and the specialist
consultant is the project manager.
The business analysis is the one who helps identify the business problem or an opportunity. Once the problem/opportunity has been identified, the business analysis would undertake the needed analysis to determine the as-is state of the problem/opportunity. He then suggests a solution or a set of solutions in order to resolve the problem or to exploit the opportunity. Once the recommended solution has been approved, the responsibility of building the solution would be handed over to the project manager. The project manager along with his/her team would build the solution and the business analyst is involved throughout the process in order to make sure the business requirements along with the other requirements are taken care of. Once the solution has been built, the business analysis is usually involved in solution evaluation in order to further improve the solution.