Why do Business Analysts need to be Agile?
The Agile paradigm has recently become the most popular software development approach used in the IT world. It is known that Agile methodologies cover certain roles such as those of the stakeholder, product owner and the scrum master, but there is no mention of the business analyst’s role. Therefore, the question must be asked: Why do business analysts need to be Agile?
There are three important considerations to keep in mind that will help us to answer this question.
- The differences between Agile and the traditional paradigm.
- The new business analyst role as a business advisor.
- The opportunity to coach team members.
1. The differences between Agile and the traditional paradigm
Agile doesn’t stipulate any specific documentation, however, of course, it does not mean that none is required. Rather, the business analyst along with the team decide what information needs to be documented and to what degree.
The appearance of the sprints which are short, time-boxed delivery cycles reduces the size of the result deliverables when compared to traditional projects. The team looks to adapt and adjust as the project develops, rather than sticking to one specific target.
All the team members can perform analysis. The business analyst has the opportunity to coach them on analysis techniques, this prevents the BA from becoming a bottleneck to the overall team progress, resulting in an overload of work.
2. The new business analyst role as a business advisor
Product owner advisor. The product owner has to determine the requirements’ priority. This is when the business analyst becomes indispensable by helping the product owner to analyse the business domain. This help will give the product owner the visibility they need to make the right decisions and thus also the ability to organise and maintain the product backlog.
Team supporter. The team will also require help in order to understand the business domain and the problems which need to be solved. The business analyst can give them vital support on matters of processes, the information needed, stakeholders or policies.
Stakeholders’ helper. Business analysts help the product owner, the team and stakeholders to create user stories in order to deliver some new functionality. This is when their knowledge of modelling methodologies is most appreciated. The user stories can be delivered using data models, process flows, workflow diagrams or use cases.
3. The opportunity to coach team members
Business analysis skills are crucial to ensure everything in the product backlog is completed. Therefore, there are two options, either the business analyst does it themselves or coaches the team on how to do it. The latter increases the probability of the task being completed on time by delegating out this responsibility to other members of the team.
Communication is another skill that other team members and stakeholders can be mentored in by the business analyst. Using their experience translating “business speak” into “technical speak” they can advise both parties on how to improve their interaction by helping them to “speak the same language”. Effectively becoming the middle man between the two parties.
Business analysts along with the product owner have the clearest vision of the project, the big picture and the organisational strategy. As a result, they are in the best position to share this knowledge with the rest of the team. This helps ensure that the right people are leading others in the correct direction.
The reason why business analysts need to be Agile is that Agile enables improvement in methodologies and practices whilst also representing an opportunity for them to share what they know best using their most precious skill: communication. By enabling this, the Agile paradigm can show just why it can become of vital importance to how your project will inevitably be run.