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How to perform as a Business Analyst in an Agile environment

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The business analyst plays key roles in a very multitude of contexts: ranging from the business side down to more and more technical ones, intending to decrypt businesses, understanding stakeholders and customer needs. Nowadays, this role has become even more critical in the age of digital transformation. Although there is still some confusion in defining its sphere of action and capabilities. Ambiguity is even greater, once we talk about Agile: since the role of BA is not even covered within this framework, does it mean that there is no room for it?



The answer is NO.

Market evidence shows that the focus on this specific role is booming in the recent past. Let’s have a glance at how BAs play a crucial role within Agile teams. Putting at disposal its knowledge and expertise to integrate and complement the role of the product owner. However, while BAs have no formally defined role in the Agile Scrum framework, some important traits and qualities can be emphasized.


Be adaptive

This is one of Agile’s key concepts, and every role presented in this context must be adaptable. In this regard, the BA is devoted to helping and resolving all sorts of business issues, wherever they arise. As a result, it needs to adapt to different processes, management strategies and be prepared to use several frameworks. 


Deliver requirements iteratively

Requirement Elicitations for Agile projects are made iteratively. The system is therefore distributed slowly (or parts thereof). When members of the project team develop the system, more information is made available about what is feasible, which fuel the system’s design. Therefore, before every iteration, Agile BAs need to gather and modify requirements without trying to define everything in advance.


Be Innovative

The Agile BA is responsible for challenging the stakeholders, sponsor and the rest of its team to clarify the business problem behind the desired needs. This has absolute importance with the aim of ensuring that the team is solving the right business problem.


Collaborate

The Agile process begins each implementation with intensive collaboration aimed at eliciting requirements, offering suggestions and findings answers that will get each team leader at full capacity on what the method is indented to do. When requirements grow and are fully understood, there will be more ad hoc interaction. Requirement definition is no longer the BA’s sole responsibility. The Agile BA is expected to cooperate with developers and product owner to elicit requirements.


Techniques

The Agile BA is mainly prompted to support and implement requirements through use cases and user stories. Nevertheless, the knowledge and the mastering of a wide range of other techniques (as of Backlog Refinement, Purpose alignment model and Value modelling) will certainly help to tackle all kind of business scenarios.


Technologies and Business domains

Beyond doubt, the Agile team relies upon the Agile BA to bring a lot of business knowledge and have, therefore, the ability to decode business requirements into useful deliverables. The essential job of Agile BAs is to encourage communication and comprehension between the business and the project group. To do that, they will know how system components communicate with each other and bearing in mind all the internal and external dependencies.


Results-oriented

The Agile BA is a key role in determining the orientation of the project, having always the project goal in mind, so it is capable of understanding whether the project is on the right track. This characteristic is a mix of capabilities as system thinking, see the big picture and have an eye for details.


Take leadership 

It is important to emphasize that this aspect is not achieved by enforcing control or authority, but rather with a mixture of other factors such as communication and facilitation. The leadership of the BA focuses on the team and the project, instead of personal leadership. To have an impact on the project, the Agile BA has to consider various factors like the culture, the overall strategy and coping with politics. Such a combination makes an Agile BA an invaluable asset for its Agile team.


Be Empathetic

Given all the various stakeholders with which Agile BA needs to collaborate, it needs to display sympathy and understanding and gives a middle person who is an arbiter, a quieting focus amidst the storm of debate and showdown that typically accompanied by hierarchical change. The Agile BA is thinking relationship across hierarchical limits, sympathizing with clients who incorporate a wide scope of characters and dispositions.



In closing, business analysis as a discipline has a lot of value to bring to the Agile teams. The business analyst adds several different skills to the team that no other team member possesses. Ultimately, Agile BAs will add value to a project team in many different ways.


Written by Adriano Fratantonio

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