Is Business Analyst a Project Management Role or Specialist Role?

In recent years, the Project Management Institute (PMI) has launched many certifications. These certifications were in addition to the PMP (Project Management Professional), CAPM and PgMP. The recent certifications (last 5 years or so) include:

  • PMI-RMP: Risk Management Professional
  • PMI-SP: Scheduling Professional


Although these certificates are core project management functions, they did not do well.

  • The PMI-SP possibly failing; reaching only about 2000 certificate holders in about 5 years.
  • The PMI-RMP surviving but barely; reaching about 4000 in the same period.
  • They also have the PgMP which is still less than 2000 in about six years.

The PgMP is a supposed to be a senior certifications and has higher standard so that might explain the low numbers. However, I do not know the reasons for the low numbers of PMI-SP and RMP, since they are core functions, although the next part of this article might give an indirect answer.


After these certificates, PMI also launched:

  • PMI-ACP: Agile Certified Practitioner (about 4 years ago), and
  • PMI-PBA: Project Business Analyst (a bit more than a year ago).

Although PMI-ACP was launched a year or two after the PMI-RMP, it turned out that it is much more popular with the number of PMI-ACP already many folds the number of RMP. PBA is showing similar popularity.

The following image reflects the data as of January 2015 so a year old and barely show the PBA since it was just started but the ACP trend is clear.

Comparison among various PMI certifications

Why the different performance?

That raise many questions:

Why these certificates are more popular than the other two? Noting that PMI-SP and PMI-RMP are core functions and have their respective knowledge areas in the PMBOK Guide.

ACP is about agile practices that are more dominant in technology related projects. Yes, one can agree that some aspects of agile can be used outside of IT but it is not a core function and knowledge area like scheduling and risk. Further, agile is an approach and not generic for most projects most of the time. Otherwise, why does not the PMBOK Guide dedicate more than one small section in one chapter for this topic?

PBA is even more questionable. Again, we realize that in technology projects a BA role is important but that is a technical project role – not a Project Management role. At least, not more than scheduling or cost or quality or risk. Further, in many projects’ domain this role does not exist. For example in petroleum industry we see facilities planners roles, or similar. We see engineering roles that are important to projects. We have cost estimator roles, we have project control roles, we have procurement administrator roles —- all of these are project management roles but we do not see them in PMI, as areas of focus or even deserve certification.

Again, no one is questioning the value of the Business Analyst or that is not required. No one is questioning the need for BA’s on some projects. The only questions here are:

  • Is it a project management function or general organizational and business function?
  • Is it more important for projects than cost, schedule, risk, quality and the other project management functions — OR — more important than a facilities planner, engineering analyst or similar technical roles that are also needed on certain projects?

PMI and Certifications

In other words, what we observe is that PMI launching – focusing – and promoting certifications that are not core project management functions while ignoring the other core functions.


We would love for PMI to answer and give us a logical answer. If we see a balanced approach, we would post this question. However, the absence of balance and focus on the other areas lead us to question motives.

Since we have gotten used for PMI not to answer, one can speculate.

Many project management practitioners can observe that PMI membership base is predominantly from IT. Yes, membership come from all types of organizations, financial, oil & gas, healthcare – but the functions that people come from are the IT departments of these sectors. Over the years, we have seen the PMBOK Guide and PMI certifications is shifting more and more into the IT side.

There is nothing wrong if PMI wants to be the PMI for IT or ITPMI. People like me can just walk away. The problem is all of those who are making a living out of PMI certifications trying to make it sound like BA is a core project management functions and that is required for ALL PROJECTS and ALL DOMAINS. Same for Agile.

Why PMI is going this way – because PMI is a follower not a leader.

PMI is following it is membership base ——- and revenues ——- even if that means diluting the value of project management or the value of its own brand. PMI priority is revenue not project management learning. The promotion of certifications on topics related to its membership base will secure more revenue but launching certifications that are critical for project success but are not popular in IT is not a good business. Roles like Cost Estimator, Cost Control Specialist, Planner, Scheduler, Project Control Specialist, Procurement Specialist — do not even exist on the project teams in IT where no capital projects can function without these skills.

Again, PMI, its chapters, volunteers, and vendors – can be IT PM – can promote IT functions and do what they like. Just do not insult our intelligence by saying everyone need a PMI-PBA!

Final Comments

What triggered this article is a recent discussion on LinkedIn. Where one of the PMI benefactors and holders of almost every PMI certification – trying to promote the PMI-PBA is showing a great deal of lack of understanding what a real project management is. The exchange got a bit blunt and I wrote – a blunt blog about it – on my personal blog (not this blog which is a company blog). However, that article led to this and we want to share with you the other post so you can see the level of understanding yourselves.

We truly love to hear from you – let us know what you think. You can be as direct and blunt as you like. Go for it

This is the link: