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How Portfolio Managers and Business Analysts Can and Should Collaborate

Portfolio managers should get to know business analysts because, in a realistic and practical sense, the two roles were made for each other. As Jen Skrabak describes in a post for Voices on Project Management, business analysts are as much guardians of value and champions of business alignment as they are experts at solving problems.

“B” is for Beginnings

A business analyst (BA) is someone who identifies the needs of a business in addition to documenting and managing requirements based on those needs. They may also recommend relevant solutions. To further elaborate, the BA fulfills at least four basic roles:

  • Developing pipeline opportunities
  • Defining business capabilities
  • Developing business cases
  • Performing solutions analysis

The BA is for beginnings, as they are typically involved in developing pipelines. They often aid in developing project or technology roadmaps and can vouch for a project’s scope, its overall business case, and validity. They are experts at identifying future opportunities as well. Every business case is essentially a “needs assessment” and a BA is your best ally in identifying current needs based on effective benchmarking and current capabilities. Through end-to-end process flows and functional diagrams, they can pinpoint all relevant justifications for your initiative.

Everything the BA does is driven towards fortifying the business case, which includes a thorough understanding of ROI:

With their high-level understanding of the goals, objectives and needs of the enterprise, business analysts can assist in defining the justification for the proposed solution. The basis of a business case is the needs assessment. This process seeks to understand the underlying business problem, assess the current state and perform a gap analysis against the future state.

Bridging past and future, the BA can provide context to support long or short-term planning, such as with process change or with systems implementation. They can create short-term wins by working directly with stakeholders to solve immediate problems, or can support the ongoing formation of competitive new ideas and strategies.

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About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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