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MBA versus CBAP

MBA versus CBAP. What does it take to become rehired as a Project Manager?  What skills, qualities and experience is needed to be the go-to guy (or gal) for EPC projects?  Well, one part of it is the requirement of having general business and management understanding. To achieve this, one could go for an MBA and get the necessary knowledge but this takes up time, which is a PM’s most valuable asset.  In most cases, the PM is quite busy in ongoing projects and will have no time or will not get the approval from the management to attend the required classes to receive a MBA.

Currently I am going through the training to become a Certified Business Analyst Professional by IIBA, and I must say, there is a lot of common understanding if you have done your MBA already.  If you haven’t, perhaps getting your CBAP will be easier as it isn’t as time-consuming as getting a MBA. However, if I compare the roles and work-scope of a business analyst, we find that there are a lot of parallels between a business analyst and a PM.  Here it is in summary (but not limited to):

  • Define business problems,
  • Manage release schedules,
  • Communicate to key stakeholders,
  • Organize and run meetings,
  • Define procedures for business/operation,
  • Write requirements,
  • Write test plans,
  • Document everything,
  • Manage risks,
  • React to change in scope or direction,
  • Find holes in requirements,
  • Create use cases,
  • Evaluate RFP’s,
  • Create documentation that the users will understand,
  • Coordinate testing efforts,
  • Estimate project work and
  • Manage change to name a few, we can see that a lot of this parallels PM job scope and work.

This short list exhibit a fair bit of general management tools and skills a BA should acquire which is similar to what a Project Manager is doing on a daily basis.  Most or all of the above-mentioned is needed to manage and deliver a project or a project portfolio. For me, the daily bread and butter is through being a project consultant for EPC projects.

If a project manager is a CBAP (certified business analyst professional), it is very helpful to manage more projects.  It is a very handy certification to have!  The bigger and more complex the project gets, the more likely companies may search for a person with this certification.

I evolved from a project engineer into the role of a project manager, and the business knowledge as outlined is of tremendous importance. If that isn’t enough, Self Leadership and Team Management is essential to run the projects, and it is then delegating the work on the above topics to the team. Delegation is part of leadership and is required especially in large scale projects when, say, the drafting of test plans or performing systems integration can not be performed by the Project Manager him/herself. However, in order to effectively lead a project, the Project Manager has to know all of this in order to delegate these jobs properly.  How do you get started working on your business analyst certification?  Easy, one bite at a time (you know, like general project management work).

The real challenge occurs when the project team is not on the level required to deliver the required or expected results. That’s the time when the Project Manager has to act fast and either get skilled project team members for specific jobs or a consultant for specific work packages. It is possible for some key staff to learn some of the topics online and get the skills and ideas how to implement it for the ongoing project. However, the decision to do so should not be postponed because in projects, time is of essence and can not be recovered. From my experience, the later such activities are performed, the higher the cost.

In summary, attaining a CBAP can really help a PM get rehired on a project-by-project basis and can also provide the necessary skills to taking on bigger and more complex projects.  And lucky for us PM’s, studying for a business analyst certification parallels what we already do in projects!  For more information on receiving your CBAP, check out these FAQs here.

 Cheers,

 Peter Wyss