The BA, or Business Analyst. This is a role often used on software teams and in systems development. There are those that state the Agile Business Analyst does not fit with the Agile model and team anymore. Has the role gone the way of the dinosaur? Quite the opposite. I don’t think the role has seen its last leg.
The Agile Business Analyst is still relevant to the Agile project team. Business Analyst and Business Systems Analyst roles can still be hugely beneficial. The Business Analyst role and responsibilities complement Agile practices and the rest of the team. Combining for more effective Agile development. Let’s get into them.
In conjunction with the team, the Agile Business Analyst role can power up your delivery.
In the Age of Agile, the Business Analyst can play an important part. Agile teams are made up of varying roles, skillsets and experience. So why should you use a Business Analyst on your team? Because the analyst role can help bring together all that varied skill and experience. It can be a primary part of this analyst role to help combine the skills and experience of the team.
Leverage the BA, to help be the glue of the team. In conjunction with the team, the role can power up your delivery. Therefore, use the role to enable the success of the team and enable business value. Allow the analyst role to be relevant on the Agile team.
Table of Contents
What is the Agile Business Analyst?
The Business Analyst role, or BA, is a role that comes from more traditional software development processes. Also known as Business Systems Analyst, or BSA. The business analyst job role is a software project job role born of Waterfall development processes.
Created to be an interface between software engineers and the user or stakeholder. For the purpose of getting the information needed to do work. I’m not diving into the history of it here. Nobody wants to go through that! But, it is important to know the start of the role. The role came to be as the Waterfall model required a link between the system and software development team and the business team. Creating the role to be responsible for “translating” the needs of the business to the system/software team. IE, providing the requirements the team works from.
The role has evolved over time. Morphing to take on other responsibilities as well. Another example is that sometimes that role owns testing. In order to exist in the age of Agile, the role morphs yet again. Now that we have seen a bit about the past, let’s continue, shall we?
What the Agile Business Analyst role can be
Ultimately, the role is what you make it. Here are some aspects of the role that are valuable to the Agile team. Leveraging these in the role will keep it useful to the team. Prioritize these types of things for the role and your team, and you will see tremendous gains in how the team functions.
Agile Business Analyst as Facilitator
An additional person on the team that can help facilitate for team members. Take ownership of day to day tasks. Help the team self organize around the work to be done. Promoting the self organization of the team goes a long ways towards team success. The team feels ownership and takes things upon themselves to improve. As opposed to having it directed to them by any leadership. The BA can help promote this.
The Agile BA can also help facilitate good feedback loops with users and stakeholders. Helping to get the quality feedback that the team needs. This is the feedback that the team will use to learn and make decisions to better the product and meet needs and goals.
Another person on the team that can help remove impediments. Helping to keep work moving, to help the team meet goals. They rove around to address needs. Above all, make sure to lend a hand where needed, to keep valuable work moving forward.
The BA can collaborate with team members in ways leadership and those outside of the team cannot. Because they are a member of the Agile team. Leverage that to get an impediment out of the way. Or use it to help promote simplicity in the work.
A role in helping drive solution and responsibility for that solution. More so than the share that each team member has, just by being on the team. Some teams have lead roles with this responsibility. Which, it never hurts to have another perspective, to help to add to the solution. However, as an Agile BA, you should help prepare work for the team by having at least high-level solution ideas prepared. Solution ideas that you can refine with the team. Or at least rough ideas that you then work on with the team to get to the best solution to move forward with.
The BA can’t be expected to have all the how-to details. But they can have some direction figured out and help the team move quickly on software product work. The can be a leader in helping to move solutions forward and enabling the team to deliver.
Promotes Work Readiness
The BA can boost the Agile process by taking a leading role in getting work ready for the team. The BA has a traditional role in requirement gathering. Leverage that experience to help refine user-stories for the team.
The Agile BA can enhance the quality of the user story in the product backlog or the active iteration. Helping to build acceptance criteria and clarify details. Also helping to organize work into iterative pieces that the team can complete in the sprint. They don’t need to do in a silo and can do this collaboratively with the team. But still, they can be a leading force to help this part of the process.
Some team’s use the BA as a tester. This can be a good use, helping to build quality software. Good experience as testers is hard to replace. Any team member should be able to jump in and help validate functionality. However, having team members with more test planning and test execution experience can’t hurt.
Agile testing practices require quick reactions to ever-changing software and user needs, and that experience with building test cases and executing testing is invaluable. Especially to help build software quality in from the beginning of the lifecycle.
More so than testing. Helping the team to improve and achieve quality in all things. This could be in solutions. This could be in how they organize and communicate. Promoting new ideas for continuous improvement of the team. The possibilities are limitless. Remember there is a great opportunity for the role to own this important item. Prioritizing quality in the ways in which the team works is always a huge benefit to the team.
Agile Business Analyst as Process Champion
The BA role can help grow and improve the team. Individual team members can do this, anyone can on the team. However, the BA can take a leading role in fostering the Agile mindset and process improvement. The BA can play an important part in the team self-directing themselves on process improvement. Evolving the team naturally and at a pace that makes sense for the team. The BA can and should be part of the Agile leadership of the team. Business Analyst skills described here can help any Agile development team.
The best teams have varying sets of skills
Final thoughts on the role
How can these things all fit onto the Agile team? Why do they help boost your software development methodologies? They do by adding to the collective skills of the team. The best teams have varying sets of skills, to be truly cross-functional. They have team members with skills sets that complement and supplement each other. This enhances the team’s abilities. It makes the team more flexible. The role is not done and gone. The BA is a great complement to other Agile roles, like Product Owner and Scrum Master. The skills above are needed in any business analyst job description.
Additional reading and books to help learn and grow the agile business analyst role
Like all things Agile, adapt. Adapt the team and adapt the role. Consider the Agile Manifesto, especially its values around individuals and interactions. And how the BA can be a part of that and help the team. As part of Agile coaching and growth, look to leverage and grow the roles. Maximize what you can do, by leveraging the BA skills on your team. Adopting ideas here and other Agile best practices will only help you meet your deliverables. They will let you succeed in Agile, with this role, or as another member of the team.