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5 Tips for Seamless Collaboration Between Product Managers and Business Analysts

By Arpit Agarwal – Vice President – Analytics & Data Science at Khatabook

In product management, successful collaboration between product managers and business analysts is paramount for success. This partnership forms the backbone of any project, guiding it from inception of the project to its execution. But ensuring seamless collaboration between product managers and business analysts is not an easy task.

Key Takeaways:

  • First tip for seamless collaboration between product managers and business analysts is to define the goal together. Defining the goal individually from a product manager’s or analyst’s perspective should be avoided. 
  • Second tip is continuous communication with equal partnership.
  • Third tip is discussing problem statements and not tasks. 
  • The fourth tip is embracing a mindset of support and empathy which is essential for navigating challenges and overcoming setbacks. 
  • The fifth tip is utilizing the power of retrospectives which discusses three questions- what went well, what can we do differently, what caused problems.
In this article
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    1. Define the goal together

    First is to define the goal together. Defining the goal individually from a product manager’s or analyst’s perspective should be avoided. Unless the two teams do it together and take each other’s input into this process, the relationship interlock is not built. So, because the product managers are the primary owners of the product, it’s their job to figure out an analytics point of contact who will act like their alter ego through the complete product development life cycle

    Product Manager’s Role

      • For a product manager at this stage, it is important to prepare your core team and have it written in the PDTA . This core team includes one person from the product (you), second person from the design, third person from tech and fourth person from analytics. These are 4 people who would form your core team and they should know everything from day 1 to day N about what is going on in your product. This is your inner circle of trust.
      • Second is to talk to potential product users and do industry research to evaluate the requirement. This is very important when you are defining the product goal. Sometimes we go a lot on intuition because a competitor has already launched a product. You assume that you’ll also be successful in the same. You have to do your own primary research. It’s a big investment both from developers point of view and resources point of view. Hence, doing your research properly is very important.
      • Third is defining the success matrix. Of course, the product manager would know the larger objective of what they are trying to solve with this product so they have to define the success metric and take inputs and review it while writing the PRD.

    Business Analyst’s Role

      • For a business analyst, the role is defining the goal is you have to aid in consumer research, mostly from a quantitative angle because that is the data that you have. That validates the potential of this requirement of the product. You can get important insights from feedback analytics, you would have run some surveys, you would have done some calling or you would have seen a great drop off in your product funnels and you think this feature would be a potential solution for that.
      • The second role of the business analyst is to do the event instrumentation that will also be used to evaluate the performance later of the product feature.
      • The third role of the business analyst is to define the success metric. Success metric is something that the product manager and business analyst have to come together and define. They have to make sure that when they are defining it, they also have to look at the positive and negative aspects of the product and its overall impact. So once they both are aligned on this, they are set to do the analysis or even improve the product forward.

    2. Continuous communication with equal partnership

    Now product development is a long journey. It doesn’t just happen quickly. It takes several months to build a successful product with a product market fit from inception to defining a goal to writing PRD to developing the product. There is a need for continuous communication. Bad communication is one of the key reasons why interlock between product managers and business analysts fails.

    Product Manager’s Role

      • The role of product manager would be, they have to discuss the product development updates. Even if the product is not completed, it doesn’t matter. Keep sharing these updates continuously and this fosters equal ownership. One of the ways this could be done is by having a lot of slack channels where we put all people who are relevant to a product in the complete life cycle together and keep sharing updates whatever is happening. This could include a delay in the timeline, review process for a particular developed part of the product and so on. So this makes everyone feel very involved and have equal partnership. 
      • Once the product is launched, you have to keep the analyst involved in the user insights piece that you are doing. So mostly the product managers would ask the customers how they liked using the product and they would take that product post user feedback. Sometimes the feedback is kept with themselves. Because of this, there is an information disparity between the different teams so until this information is passed to the analytics team they would not be able to do a good job. 

    Business Analyst’s Role

      • The analyst’s role can be discussed by dividing it into two parts- before the product launch and after the product launch. Most of the companies involve analytics post launch. But it is not right. So to foster equal partnership, the first thing that they can do while the product is building is they can develop dashboard wireframes for performance measurement and align the wireframes with the product managers. This is required as the product is launched so that you don’t waste time in developing wireframes. Then you can utilize this time of development of the product to build your wireframes.
      • Second is whenever the product is launched, it generally goes through AB experimentation. So the analysts play a key role in deciding what AB experiment should look like. Generally they would pull out the right cohort of people, they would discuss with the product managers and decide whether they should target the product to power users or non power users or users of a particular state. So that kind of discussion should happen and they should design the experiment together. 
      • Now when we talk about the post launch, then of course it will be asked what is the performance of the product. So once the wireframe is developed in step one, then in step three they can track the daily funnels of the product, see what’s the adoption, retention and have a decision on further roll out. So this kind of structure will make sure that both of them feel equal ownership.

    3. Discuss problem statements and not tasks

    This is the third point of interlock between product managers and business analysts. Analysts are treated more like the data delivery mechanism and not seen as someone who can give insights. So there has to be a lot of trust between the two teams.

    Product Manager’s Role

      • It is crucial for product managers to have open ended discussions with business analysts. Sometimes what happens is that the product managers would come up with a lot of hypotheses on their product problems, but they would just give one hypothesis to the data team to pull out the data. So instead of that if they have open end conversations and they think out loud then analytics can be more involved in the process. As product managers, you can force the business analysts to think on unstructured problems.

    Business Analyst’s Role

      • It’s the analyst’s job to ask the right set of questions. Sometimes the team does not ask the right questions and take the requirements as it is. So it does not force the product managers to think much before giving the problems and they become people who just keep on doing adhocs one after the other, but the problem is never solved.
      • The second role is that the business analyst team has to proactively help the product management team with ideas for improvement. Most of the time analytics are reactive and it means that some problem will occur and you will try to figure it out and you will try to do the RCA why it has happened. You have to figure out from the feedback and early signals of funnels that what can be a potential problem, validate that with users. This can be done either through AB testing or user calling and then start working on it.

    There are 3 questions that can give clarity to any task:

    • Why do we want to do this? This clarifies the objective of what is there in the mind.
    • How will answering this add value to the product? This helps you understand what is the priority. Sometimes it is good to know, sometimes it is very important, sometimes very urgent. So it will help you decide whether it should be prioritized or not. 
    • What’s the desired state? If a person knows their desired state, they can come up with good recommendations and see the insights from a particular point of view.

    4. Emphasize and support

    This is more of an emotional intelligence quotient that should be there within the team. It involves embracing a mindset of support and empathy is essential for navigating challenges and overcoming setbacks. Mistakes will happen and it’s okay. Once we get that attitude of support and empathy, that is when the interlock will actually happen. 

    Product Manager’s Role

      • Product managers will miss some edge cases in the product requirement document. They will never be perfect. 
      • They will forget to involve you in some meetings where you feel that you should have been involved. 
      • They will miss to give you a full requirement to analyze at once. 

    Business Analyst’s Role

      • They will make data errors.
      • They will miss on promised timelines. 
      • They will forget to instrument some key events in the product that in retrospect they will think that this is missed out.

    5. Power of retrospectives

    Retrospect mainly discusses three questions- what went well, what can we do differently, what caused problems. The focus here is to improve each other. There can be biweekly retrospectives between the product and analytics team to discuss just these three questions. You will be amazed by the results, how openly people give feedback, and the type of exponential improvement you can see just in a month of doing these retrospectives. Open and continuous feedback is the key to building a strong team. If the team is not strong, the product can never be strong.  

    Hence, seamless collaboration between product managers and business analysts is crucial for driving product success. By defining goals together, continuous communication with equal partnership, discussing problem statements and not tasks, emphasizing and supporting and using the power of retrospectives both product management and business analyst teams can cultivate a culture of collaboration, innovation, and excellence.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Business analysts and product managers can work together by utilizing 5 main tips like defining goals together, continuous communication with equal partnership, discussing problem statements and not tasks, emphasizing and supporting and using the power of retrospectives.

    Business analysts handle the technical aspects of product development. On the other hand, product managers are involved in deciding what features to add in the product, conducting market research and so on.

    Yes you can transition from business analyst to product manager. This will require you to build skills like leadership, cross collaboration skills, prioritization, and market research.

    It is crucial for product managers to have open ended discussions with business analysts. If they have open end conversations and they think out loud then analytics can be more involved in the process. As product managers, you can force the business analysts to think on unstructured problems.

    Business analysts should aid in customer research that validates the potential of requirements. They should do event instrumentation that will be used to evaluate performance. They should be able to define success metrics.

    About the Author: 

    Arpit AgarwalVice President – Analytics & Data Science at Khatabook

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