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Business Analyst in Agile World …

01 Dec 2011

Today companies require shorter delivery cycles in order to adapt to changing market conditions and be more responsive to customer needs and expectations. Agile development methodologies help development teams deliver software in cycles.

These methodologies are having a significant impact on business analysts. Agile requires business analysts to change how they gather information and move from a requirement push to a needs pull and as such analysts are increasingly involved throughout the life of a project.

The nature of agile projects places a tremendous amount of responsibility and accountability on these analysts. To understand the scope of a project, they need to consider two aspects: breadth and depth. It is crucial to understand the breadth of that which is to be delivered as it helps teams understand the long term goals and vision. This in turn helps with the release planning and breaking deliveries.

Business analysts are also responsible for ensuring the full scope of requirements has been defined; once the breadth of a solution is defined, they can look at the depth for each increment. Dealing with depth after breadth ensures resources and time are allocated to the items of most value to the business. It also considers and deals with the most recent market conditions.

In agile methodologies, collaboration and interaction between business and technology is crucial so the business analyst may enhance and facilitate communication. Although agile systems are famous for less documentation, business analysts need to make sure significant information is captured and retained throughout the life of the project and beyond if needed.

In fact the owner of an agile project is often a business analyst who provides the team with a clear road map and keeps it aligned with strategic company goals.

Some of the other values delivered by business analysts on agile projects are:

  • Review, refine and re-prioritise the release/product backlog
  • Negotiate feature delivery
  • Design flexible release plans
  • Track project progress by delivery and not tasks completed
  • Mentor and coach teams to honour commitment over estimates
  • Produce acceptance tests from acceptance criteria

Business analysts with these skills and these ways of looking at development process will become critical to the success of agile team.