Implementing technology automation in financial services firms is a human effort intensive process. Much relies on the feelings, motivations and choices of the real people involved. Major automation initiatives can fail or stall if the wrong people are assigned to the wrong tasks.
Businesses do try and make sure they have the right people performing the right tasks when it comes to transformation projects, says Afilash Azeez, Head of the PMO at JIFFY.ai, an intelligent automation platform that enables wealth management firms to achieve enterprise autonomy.
But they often confuse between the roles of a project manager and a business analyst, says Azeez.
“These are both critical roles and the lines between them should not be blurred,” he adds.
Project Manager: The champion of honesty
The project manager is the watchdog that keeps people honest. They get the automation done to achieve the business’s goals. They come up with checks and balances among people and deliver project reports at regular intervals. That keeps everyone honest. If anyone in the project group is lagging behind or not delivering as expected, they call it out.
In short, the project manager’s job is to manage projects – no surprises there. But on a deeper level, they build communication structures between businesses. Between partners. Between solution providers and their clients. Like, for example, JIFFY.ai and our clients. They’re also responsible for scheduling execution of the project, team building, coordinating and managing tasks, and establishing a budget.
The project manager makes sure tasks are finished on time and they meet the requirements of the client. If something is misaligned, they are responsible for seeing through a change request.
“In our case, the project manager works between JIFFY.ai and the client’s stakeholders to make sure that the needs of the client and their customers are understood,” says Azeez. “They make sure that the client’s needs are in-line with what our organization is planning to do. If the requirements are misaligned, they make sure we mitigate them.”
Right from the initiation phase, the project manager makes sure that the project is being completed in line with expectations.
“Client organizations may have their own managers, but JIFFY.ai assigns a manager to each of our projects,” says Azeez. “When we start our journey with a client, the manager assigns a team for the project. The team communicates with people from the client’s side through the project manager.”
Project managers have a close understanding of the people who handle different roles on JIFFY.ai’s product team, and also have good domain knowledge.
“In fact, project managers are people who understands change and adapt quickly,” Azeez says.
Business Analyst: The evaluation expert
“Typically, for these businesses, automation is a new area. We’re helping them to move into the future of enterprise autonomy, where every organization wants to be,” says Azeez. “We help them understand through use cases that these are the areas where we can help them to be more efficient.”
The business analyst gathers all the required elements to understand the scope of a project, and also for evaluating the project when it is completed.
Success in automation projects is directly connected to the understanding of the client’s business and also its relation with technology. The business analyst accomplishes this by analyzing and documenting the client’s business processes and systems.
“In some cases, we may be limited by certain factors and are not able to see the business end,” says Azeez. “We need someone who can help the client’s tech team understand that this is what they need as an outcome.”
The business analyst, along with members of the engineering and product teams, is responsible for the creation of a solution design document and a product definition document.
The solution design document describes the specific processes, step by step, that are to be automated, captures the systems used for the processes and issues like assumptions, exceptions and security.
The process definition document outlines the business process to be developed within automation. The document is then used by solution provider’s product team as the basis on which automation solutions are designed.
“Based on these two documents, project stakeholders can come up with how much automation they need, and the effort and resources it will require,” says Azeez.
The business analyst’s primary responsibility is to assist organizations with the improvement of operational efficiency, productivity, and profitability. They achieve these using investigative research skills as well as innovative data analysis tools and solutions.
The analyst may also review the project and assist in bug-checking.
“After completing a project, a group of analysts work to understand the client’s experience and accomplishments, and also how to eliminate the pain points,” Azeez says. “Based on this understanding, they make changes in their procedures so shortfalls don’t happen the next time.”
Which of these roles is inevitable?
An enterprise embarking on an end-to-end automation project needs both the project manager and the business analyst. The business analyst provides the information that defines the work of a project manager. The business analyst’s role is most impactful in discovery, when a process automation is being initiated, while the project manager steps in for design and implementation itself, and both come together for the successful completion of the final stages of the project.
“As an industry-agnostic automation platform, at JIFFY.ai, we have product and engineering teams working on projects spanning multiple industries,” says Azeez. “Both the business analysts and the project managers make sure those teams have roadmaps that align with the customers’ needs, and also that their deliverables match the expectations of the customers.”
“Most of our teams work on bespoke projects for our clients, so we depend on the information and expertise of both the project managers and business analysts. Both make sure that the project gets completed on time with zero errors. They both have essential and complementary roles,” Azeez adds.