Analysis of business needs have been around for over three decades. Through time it has been known by different names and done distinctively. Recently, we have seen standards developed to discover the necessities of the client, these activities are referred as business analysis. For that reason, commercial analysis is the process where the business needs are identified, the requirements are understood and therefore high impact solutions are recommended to organizations.
Business analysis might be slightly different depending on which standards are used. For this specific scenario, this article will focus on the role of a Business Analyst, also known as BA, in an Agile Project.
What is a business analyst?
An organization can’t be imagined without customers, neither it can be imagined an Agile project without analysis. Being an Agile BA is about:
- Facilitating dialogue about customer value with the team.
- Making the product owner’s decisions more efficient.
- Analyzing gaps and impacts.
An agile approach for projects is all about ensuring what is developed is valuable and effective. A great team can build a solution really well and really fast, but if it doesn’t provide value to the users, it doesn’t matter. And that’s where BA’s come in. The work of a BA is crucial to find agile value in the projects. Business analysts on Agile teams recognize and protect value throughout the lifecycle of the project, and they do this by producing dialogue, not documents.
A BA on an Agile team generates dialogue to facilitate value driven decision making and priority setting. Consequently, a BA in first instance analyzes the product owner priorities and works to decompose them into small pieces. Each piece delivers value to the customer and is small enough for the team to accurately estimate.
Does a Business Analyst need to document something? Isn’t that the question?
Well, this is a normal question for BA’s who’ve been practicing business analysis for a while and are accustom that the acquire role is about a written business requirements document and sign it. The focus of an Agile BA is not documenting something that can be handed off, but rather it’s getting the right conversations happening so the team has a shared understanding of what they’re building. This does not mean that documentation doesn’t happen or exist, but it does mean that is different. Agile documentation serves the team as a memory or a conversation igniter.
Agile BAs get work done by using high impact collaboration and communication techniques, rather than using documents to define the process. They work partially supporting the project that is currently in progress, and partially preparing for the future work. It can be said that they are in the current work, the upcoming job, and looking at the longer term. Agile BA’s are looking at the big picture of where the solution is headed!
Does a Business Analyst work separately? Or, is it necessary the collaboration with other actors?
Product Owner and Business Analyst collaboration is key
Many wonders if one person can be both the Product Owner (PO), and the business analyst (BA) on a project. It’s an important question to be asked, and there are many factors that can influence the answer. There are times when this can work but also situations where is not recommended. For that reason, is important to understand the essence of what each role does at first:
A Product Owner is responsible for delivering the work of the project. This often includes defining the work and delivering the work within a budget and schedule with agreed quality levels.
A business analyst is responsible for ensuring what the project delivers is valuable and meets the needs of the business and customers.
Without one of these roles, chaos can break out, lackluster results can ensue or simply the project fails. The larger the project, the more a PO and/or multiple BAs are needed. Having both roles represented is important and hopefully, can lead to some good discussion if what needs to be done conflicts with the budget and schedule needs. This is a healthy conflict where both roles can balance the decision-making process and help business leaders make critical decisions.
The duo of a PO and a BA is awesome to provide projects with the balance necessary to succeed. When they work together in project management, communications, risk, and scope, it builds trust, reduces risk and engages stakeholders. This leads to better quality products and great relationships that ultimately leads to getting the project done on time, within budget, meeting the needs of stakeholders and delivering value.
Many factors play a role in making projects successful and there is no doubt that collaboration is at the top of the list.