Who Runs a Software Project?

Author: Geri Schneider Winters

I work on a lot of really large software projects.  Over the years, it has become clear to me that three roles, and the interactions between people in those roles, are really vital for the success of a software project. These three roles are the Project Manager, Business Analyst, and Project Architect. This article discusses these three roles and their interactions.

The Project Manager is responsible for interactions with the Project Sponsor, and for managing the people, budget, and schedules of the project. The Business Analyst is responsible for determining the goals and business requirements of the project, communicating that information to the project team and project stakeholders, and verifying that the goals and business requirements are met. The Project Architect is responsible for determining the technical requirements of the project, interacting with Enterprise Groups to determine Enterprise level technical requirements for the project, and for guiding the technical team in the implementation. Decisions made by one of these people will impact the work of the others, so all three people work closely together throughout the project to accomplish the goals of the project.

In a very small project, the three roles may be filled by one person. In very large projects, each role may be a lead over a team of people who fill the role.  There could be a Project Manager managing a group of  assistant Project Managers, a Lead Business Analyst managing a team of Business Analysts, and a Project Architect managing a team of Software Architects and Designers.  This is not theory – I have often worked on projects large enough to require teams of people to fill these roles.

In this approach of sharing the project leadership between three roles, the Project Manager is ultimately responsible for the success of the project. The Business Analyst and the Project Architect report to the Project Manager, but being senior members of the team, they will often interact with the Project Manager as peers, each bringing a particular viewpoint and set of concerns to their meetings about the project.

The Project Manager, Business Analyst, and Project Architect meet regularly (at least weekly) to talk about the project and any issues that need to be addressed. Some issues will be resolved by one role, while others may require the collaboration of all three roles to resolve. It is important to the project that the three people in these roles respect each other’s expertise and talents. A smooth working relationship between the three roles leads to a smoothly running project.

Some projects may require additional leadership roles, such as a Deployment Manager or Test Manager.  So the leadership team may be larger for those projects.  I focus on the roles of Project Manager, Business Analyst, and Project Architect because every project I have seen needs leadership in those areas. The larger the project, the more work there is to do, and the more need there is to divide these roles among multiple people all of whom have leadership responsibilities.

 

Think about projects you have worked on.  How did the relationships between the Project Manager, Business Analyst, and Project Architect affect your project?  What other leadership roles have you seen on a project team?

 

This entry was posted in Tips for Business Analysts, Tips for Business Analysts and tagged , , on by .

About Geri Schneider Winters

Geri Schneider Winters is the primary author of the popular Use Case book "Applying Use Cases: A Practical Guide" and the founder of Wyyzzk, Inc. She has over 25 years experience spanning the software development lifecycle. Geri has learned her craft working with folks such as Grady Booch, Jim Rumbaugh, Ivar Jacobson, Walker Royce, Scott Ambler, Warren Woodford, Philippe Kruchten, and Kendall Scott, along with many less well known, but equally talented, people. Geri has worked in many companies in many industries, including IBM, Boeing, Lockheed, Adobe, Intuit, Delta Dental, United Healthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield, The Money Store, Charles Schwab, The Federal Reserve Bank, Visa International, USAA, Stanford University, University of California, Carnegie Mellon University, HiLCoE College, Agilent, Knights Technology, Deloitte and Touche, Safeway, and Coca-Cola Enterprises.

2 thoughts on “Who Runs a Software Project?

  1. Chandrima

    Hi Geri,

    Well said. This Trio combinedly gives direction to the whole team. But ultimately it is Business Analyst’s responsibility to ensure that the solution provided is what the customer had asked for

    I follow your tips regularly and would like to tell you that they have been really helpful. I work as a business analyst in the IT industry for Insurance domain. Use cases form a vital part of our documentation.

    keep those ideas and tips flowing! you are doing a good job really

    Regards,
    Chandrima

  2. Hanuma

    Hi Geri,

    Might be a late comment!

    I’ve been working as a Business Analyst for SCM Domain and have been regularly following your tips.

    This has been is very nice information; even though all the three roles are well aware of this, usually the regular communication is not followed, often independent decisions are taken which effect the Project on the whole.

    We often the three face issue in taking the final decision agreed by the three. Couple of projects i’ve been involved, there has been these kind of circumstances.

    And now i realize, how things could have been handled better!

    It would be the Project Manager’s responsibility to make sure project is successful.

    Thank You Geri for all the tips and support for Business Analysts.

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