Project Manager and Business Analyst: the evolution of the relationship to manage complexity

Considerations on the ‘PM&BA – the dynamic duo’ event of 04/28/2023 organized by IIBA Italy Chapter

PM&BA 2023, the event on the dynamic duo made up of Project Managers and Business Analysts

The relationship between the roles of Project Manager (PM) and Business Analyst (BA) in projects has been the topic of many events organized over the years by IIBA Italy Chapter, you will remember the references to the dynamic duo composed of PM&BA. In fact, it has been noted by authoritative associations (PMI, IIBA) that, if PM and BA operate in symbiosis, project performance benefits. And so is the value realized for the organization.

Project Manager & Business Analyst – the dynamic duo

In the events organized by IIBA Italy Chapter dedicated to the theme ‘PM&BA – The dynamic duo’, we shared some examples of organizations structured to strengthen the relationship between PM and BA.

We have presented, for example, models that include the definition of distinct roles and responsibilities for the PM and the BA in a non-hierarchical equal relationship (PM and BA as ‘peers’). Or development models for specific Business Analysis skills for PMs and Project Management for BAs. And again models in which innovative roles have been introduced such as that of the ‘Project Business Manager’, a figure with high Project Management and Business Analysis skills, capable of operating both as a BA specialist and as a PM specialist depending on the phase of the project.

The need to strengthen the relationship between PM and BA for the success of projects is strong and evident, and the solutions are different.

The increase in complexity is the novelty of recent years

Recent years have been characterized by a significant increase in the complexity of the context in which organizations operate and carry out projects. On the occasion of the 04/28/2023 event ‘PM&BA – the dynamic duo’, we wanted to delve deeper into the topic of the relationship between PM and BA. We asked ourselves if this relationship is still important, and how much and how it has changed. To help us understand this evolution, we talked about it together with important Italian companies and associations, such as Leonardo Spa, PMI Northern Italy Chapter and DI.GI. Academy SrL.

Some considerations that emerged from the event.

1. Complexity and dynamism, THE IMPACT on companies and projects

The complexity and dynamism of the context are automatically reflected on companies and consequently on projects. The impact is all the stronger the more ‘complex’ the organizations are internally, as happens in systems with high added value. It is noted that in these cases the relationship between the PMs and the BAs turns out to be a vital element for the success of the project.

BAs help companies position themselves and organize themselves to manage the complexity and dynamism of the context, acting as a ‘bridge’ to transfer information to projects. It is essential for PMs to understand and manage the context to define the most appropriate project governance mechanisms. Furthermore, it is vital that the BAs are directly involved in the project in understanding needs, defining solutions and managing change. It is essential that BAs have consolidated and certified Business Analysis skills, in particular Strategy Analysis and Context Analysis.

2. the relationship between Project Manager and Business Analyst according to PMI

PMI places emphasis on the effectiveness of the project in creating value for the organization, underlining the responsibility of all project stakeholders, PM and BA first and foremost.

According to PMI, the symbiotic relationship between PMs and BAs is built first and foremost by following the PMI reference values: ‘Together We Can’, ‘Make it Easy’, ‘Aim Higher’, ‘Be Welcoming’, ‘Embrace Curiosity’. PM and BA must therefore both maintain focus on ‘Meeting Stakeholder Expectations’ with distinct roles and responsibilities. Thus, BAs focus on understanding the context and needs of stakeholders and defining solutions. PMs instead create the conditions for the realization of value. The emphasis on skills according to the PMI ‘talent triangle’ principle is also important. The ‘talent triangle’ divides the competences of the PM (by translation also of the BA) into:

  • ‘Ways of Working’: different and complementary technical skills for the PM and the BA – for the PM the focus is on project delivery, for the BA the focus is on eliciting, modeling and managing requirements and solutions
  • ‘Power Skills’: different and complementary Leadership skills for the PM and the BA – both require the ability to engage stakeholders on the project and the change
  • ‘Business Acumen’: more ‘horizontal’ for the PM and more ‘vertical’ and specialized for the BA.


In recent times there has been an exponential increase in the complexity and dynamism of the context due to the increase in the amount of interconnections between devices and the amount of data generated. This has led to a growth in risks related to cybersecurity and highlighted that the human factor was the determining cause of cyber attacks in at least 80% of cases.

The topic of cybersecurity in the digital world takes on a multilateral character. In particular, it appears that cyber security:

  • must be integrated into the project from design (security by design);
  • must follow regulatory stakeholder guidelines;
  • it must be understandable by all project stakeholders (and by stakeholders of stakeholders);
  • it must be sustainable in terms of costs, time and skills required;
  • must evolve in line with the evolution of the organization.

Security cannot and should not prevent an organization from achieving its business objectives. In this context, collaboration between PMs and BAs is essential for the definition and implementation of multilateral security systems. These systems must provide control over the business and project domains, with particular attention to understanding the needs and engagement of all stakeholders. This is true from the very first moments of the project’s life. To date, prevention actions seem to be the only truly effective weapon. In fact, it is known that organizations’ reaction times in the event of cyberattacks are far greater than the execution times of the attacks themselves.

4, New skills for Project Managers and Business Analysts

Attention to this complexity related to cybersecurity has required the development of new specific skills for PMs and BAs. See also what has been written about the new standard and the skills of the future).

For some years now, in addition to the classic Business Analysis certifications (ECBA®, CCBA®, CBAP®), IIBA has also offered the Cybersecurity Analysis Certification (IIBA®- CCA), designed together with IEEE, and the Certification in Business Data Analytics (IIBA ®- CBDA). Both of these certifications are destined, in the writer’s opinion, to become fundamental for the BAs of the future.

Furthermore, in some organizations overseas, new BA roles are starting to emerge, such as the ‘BISO – Business Information Security Officer’. This figure has the responsibility of guaranteeing cybersecurity objectives by creating a bridge between business and security first and then between business and market. In this way, investments in cybersecurity are transformed from a mere business cost to a source for the development of new levers of competitive advantage. BAs will be increasingly called upon to evaluate the opportunities and threats of each solution.

Project Manager and Business Analyst together to face the risks and opportunities of the future

The complexity and dynamism of the context in which companies operate are destined to increase in the coming years. Which is why collaboration between PMs and BAs in projects and organizations will be increasingly important and indispensable. The relationship between PM and BA will naturally evolve from understanding the needs and definition of stakeholder solutions towards more specialized topics (cyber security, data analysis, algorithms, etc.). Think for example of the current topic of sustainability and ecological transition. A transition that will have to take place at the same time as the transition towards digital and the use of new technologies (e.g. Artificial Intelligence). In fact, it will be an occasion of extraordinary opportunities and notable risks for Italian companies.

The task of IIBA and IIBA Italy Chapter will be to continue developing and disseminating the discipline of Business Analysis. All this for the benefit of managing complexity, as well as for the training of BAs of the future who will have to be increasingly expert, competent and updated to face new challenges.

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