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Business Analyst(BA) vs Product Manager – Which is Better [Survey]

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business analysis

According to Google search results, you can find 400 million pages devoted to the issue “business analyst vs product manager”. It became very apparent that there is a lot of confusion in the community on that topic. It’s caused by the similar pack of responsibilities and skills required for these two positions. 

However, these positions are not completely similar. Growing and well-established businesses should distinguish them. It’s not a simple task because a lot of companies don’t feature a wide infrastructure to isolate these roles, and a Product Manager handles the role of a Business Analyst as a part of the job. However, large companies prefer hiring a specialist for each position which is definitely the correct approach if an organization plans to build an enterprise application

To clarify the topic, we decided to get in touch with experts, so we asked CEOs from several companies to explain these roles in their companies, and then we picked the best answer to include them in the article. We also conducted our own research and prepared a comparison of their skills, responsibilities, and salary. 

Enjoy reading! 

Expert Opinion: Business Analyst vs Product Manager

Shiv Gupta
Chief Executive Officer at Incrementors

“Product managers look outwards/externally as they research the market and interact with customers one-on-one in order to access product potential. The ultimate purpose of a PM’s job is to improve the product. Aside from understanding why customers use a product, product managers are also responsible for determining how customers should use it as they design, improve, and monitor product usage while keeping an eye on success metrics. Because they focus on ongoing operations within the corporation, business analysts are inward-looking. Internal systems, procedures, and practices are examined to determine the best way for designing and supporting the PM’s request on behalf of end-users and the market. BAs are entrusted with recognizing opportunities in IT infrastructures.”

Bio:  Incrementors is a Digital Marketing agency that provides a wide range of services from SEO, Web Development, Web Design, E-commerce, UX Design, SEM Services, Dedicated Resource Hiring & Digital Marketing Needs!

Marliis Reinkort:

Chief Executive Officer at Code Galaxy

“Product Manager Always Organizing and Motivating. A project manager also helps organize team members and resources and motivates their team to execute the project on schedule. Ordering resources, providing proper tools, and developing a communication platform for their team are all examples of this. They also frequently offer help and solutions to team members when problems emerge.”

Bio: Code Galaxy is an online kid’s coding platform where we teach virtual classes and camps about coding, design, and technology for kids at all ages and levels.

Charles Edge:

Chief Technology Officer at Bootstrappers.mn

“I’ve sat in several of these chairs at points earlier in my career. 

We typically use a Business Analyst to help with the analysis of business requirements for internal software projects at companies and develop a project plan that gets taken on by a Product Manager to see through completion. Business Analysts often get embedded with different teams within an organization and might be focused on aspects of the business that don’t include software, like re-engineering workflows. We use Product Manager to refer to people who interface with external organizations or end users with software. Many (but not most) are dedicated to a software product or a smaller portfolio of products. If we’re doing our jobs right, this usually involves stakeholders from a lot of different organizations rather than just one. Product Management also includes many of the tasks a Project Manager does, at least until we get a large enough organization to have Product Owners and User Experience Researchers. Software companies can grow to the point where we have Business Analysts as well, but that’s usually in later stages and they are used differently than for internal product teams.”

Bio: Bootstrappers is a company with founders that have made successful exits and now work with others to build businesses with integrity that are sustainable, profitable and meaningful.

Yulia Kamotskaja:

Head of Project Management Office at SumatoSoft

Yulia Kamotskaya

Shortly, I would say the main difference between a Product Manager and a Business Analyst is that the former is focused on the product, and BA is oriented to business processes digitalization
In more detail:
A Product Manager has strategic goals:

– To write a product marketing strategy,

– To maximize product value,

– Development strategy should be aligned with product business goals (we can call it a roadmap, answer the question “What should be done next to get quick and valuable result)

– Align product development with business goals and strategy

– Coordinate the development team so that every step and decision they make will contribute to the product 

– Answer the question “Why use the product?”


Business analyst has the following goals:


– digitizing business processes (I won’t mention any general activities such as requirements gathering, documentation, etc.)

– Transfer offline business processes to the online world

– Answer the question “How to use the product?” (unlike the question of the Product Manager“Why?”)

– Improving the efficiency of the product”

Bio: SumatoSoft builds complex custom software to help companies to apply the best IT innovations to meet their goals through business digitalization.

We are grateful to all experts who found time to answer our question. Thank you! 

Next, we want to present the results of our research on that topic.

Business Analyst vs Product Manager: Roles Definitions

Let’s start with clarifying the definitions. 

A Product Manager is a professional accountable for the project’s success. This specialist discovers what users need, sets business objectives, formulates a long-term strategy and vision, articulates qualitative and quantitative metrics. Part of daily activities also includes managing the product release, deciding the scope of features to release next, and controlling functions. This specialist chooses a direction for product growth and manages all risks and uncertainties. 

A Business Analyst (BA) mostly engages in requirements elicitation activity that begin with the start of the discovery phase. BA works on the precise picture of a solution that is supposed to facilitate businesses to reach their goals.

This specialist jumps deep into the requirements and needs of the users as well as business requirements and does its best to describe a solution that meets them. The contribution of a BA is hard to overestimate.  

These two types of specialists cooperate closely in their work, but they are not similar in their activities. 

Business Analyst vs Product Manager: Responsibilities  

They both aim to reach the high quality of the product, but their activities are not similar. We prepared a simplified table to compare these roles. The table includes two columns that contain information about their duties. Majority of the duties differ, but some duties are common for both roles.

Business Analyst Product Manager

Is an executor

Is a manager

Manages his/her own time

Manages and coordinates all resources of a project (budget, time, people)

Proposes

Makes final decision based on proposals

Follows the direction of development

Determines the direction of development of the product

Responsible for product viability

Defines the most effective way the product can meet user needs

Defines the exact set of user needs that needs be met

Responsible for his/her work and deadlines

Responsible for the work of the whole team (development, sales, marketing, etc.) and its deadlines

Prioritizes tasks of the whole team

Prepares the following documents: software requirements specification, project vision and scope, prototypes, mind maps

Prepare the following documents: business strategy, implementation plan, budget, forecasts, reports to superior people.

Ensures that business objectives are reflected in the documents and functionality

Ensures sure that business objectives are reflected in the functionality

An interpreter of business goals for the development team

A mediator between the businesses and the development team

Business Analyst vs Product Manager: Required skills 

Once you decide on what specialist you need, check out the short table below to identify the set of skills your candidate should possess. The table contains three columns, where the first one defines the group of skills or the exact skill and two other columns reveal whether a specialist should possess it.

Skill / Group of skills Business Analyst Product Manager

Industry Knowledge

Required

Required

Strategic Thinking

Not Required

Required

Marketing Expertise

Optional. Works with user requirements, competitor analysis, and strives to provide the best user experience.

Required. Extensive knowledge of marketing, the recent trends, market shares of competitors, customer pain points.

Analytics Skills

Required

Required

Finance Skills

Not required

Required

Soft Skills

Required to work effectively within a team

Required to lead a team

Hard Skills

Excel, Databases (like MySQL, Oracle DB), Documentation, BPML and UML, prototyping software (like Axure, Balsamiq)

Excel, Presentation creation, data visualization software (like Tableau, SAS)

Creative thinking

Required

Optional

Business Analyst vs Product Manager: Salaries

We have already studied the rates of the software development team, so here we only describe two of them. 

According to Glassdoor, the worldwide leader on insights about jobs and companies, in 2022 the median of the estimated total pay for a Business Analyst is $90,424 / year in the US, while a Product Manager earns $109,347 per year in the United States area. So a Product Manager’s salary is higher than a BA one, however, we see a little gap. The salary ratio will probably remain the same across all countries. 

Business Analyst vs Product Manager: Which is Better 

As we have found out, there is no right answer to that issue since the choice depends on the situation, the project, the company size, and the team. Summarizing all of the above, we can say that those roles go with various packs of skills and responsibilities, even though they seem similar at first sight. The same person can handle both roles but it’s better to isolate these roles in huge companies to facilitate the efficiency of their activities.

SumatoSoft Business Analysts and Product Managers At Your Service! 

We have a talented software development team that is ready to bring your application to a new level! After more than 8 years on the market, we managed to become a reliable technical partner to our clients. That speaks volumes! Among more than 100 projects we undertook, 98% of our clients were satisfied with the quality of custom software development services we provide. 

At SumatoSoft, we help companies to digitalize their businesses by providing relevant software solutions. Contact us, and we will tackle your projects in days! 

Conclusion

In summary, we can say that the question “Business Analyst vs Product Manager: Which is Better?” has no right answer. We found out that CEOs from various companies distinguish them and understand the benefits of isolating these two roles. The responsibilities of these roles differ indeed as well as required skills. In the last chapter we detected a slight difference in their salaries in the US. Our main conclusion: both positions are essential. If a company has enough budget and you see an evident reason to isolate these roles, it should probably do that. 

Thanks for reading!