Understanding What Business Analysts and Product Managers Do
By Arijit Banerjee
To succeed, a company has to design, build, test and market its product well. The product development process is intricate and requires attention in all areas, so every member of a team will have an impact on the outcome of a product. Two positions with similar skills but distinguishing roles are Business Analysts (BA) and Product Mangers (PM). It is believed that a Product Manager comes from the ranks of a Business Analyst. Similarly behind every great PM lies a BA.
Both roles identify and understand the vision of a company, marketing requirements, customer needs and work together with a team to cultivate a cost effective and user-friendly product. Product Managers handle the product roadmap, making sure everyone on the team comprehends the intent of a new product and will meticulously work with the engineering team to build it. In the same way, a Business Analyst translates business requirements into functional system specifications, further developed by the technical team.
The PM has deep product expertise, curating news ideas and directing relevant ones into product features making them solely responsible for every product decision. Similarly, Business Analysts are also closely associated with the product by leading team members to refine product backlog, assisting product testing, etc.
Overall, Business Analysts and Product Managers are agile and work alongside each other becoming a part of a cross functional team, encouraging team members to meet customer requirements within a tight deadline.
Product Managers focus on developing products and look more at the ‘who, what and why’ elements of a product. Business Analysts focuses more on developing capabilities and look at ‘how’ people use a product.
Product Mangers are more outward facing; they define a product for market understanding, track competitors’ products and look at multiple independent customers. Business Analysts are inward; they deal more with assessing a company’s business model or its integration with technology.
Product Mangers are concerned with product planning, market knowledge and business practices of their customers while Business Analysts deal with product functioning and user workflows. Product managers lead the entire planning stage and ensure a value based market product.
Their responsibilities include product strategising, product marketing, overseeing product line budgets, creating performance reports and client management. A Business Analyst may analyze the requirements of a business process, gather product specification, track down answers to product features, collaborate with developers and document the functioning and design of new solutions.
Product Managers do not necessarily need technical knowledge but have some financial and marketing sense whereas Business Analysts need technical knowledge to solve business problems.
Apart from guiding a team, a PM can train new employees regarding rules or using certain equipment. A Product Manager’s overall performance is reported to the Product Director. On the other hand, a BA can assign tasks to a team but is not in charge of training them. Based on their data calculations, their performance is reported to a supervisor.
The critical thinking of a Business Analyst and leadership qualities of a Product Manager bridges the gap between every department and connects the team towards attaining a common objective. The effective work balance between the two ensures the smooth functioning of a company and a thriving product.