Ekipa.co – We are all familiar with the role of a Business Analyst (BA) and are aware of his/her key responsibilities in software development. The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA), a nonprofit professional association, calls Business Analysts “an agent of change”. It says, “Business Analysis is a disciplined approach for introducing and managing change to organizations, whether they are for-profit businesses, governments, or non-profits.”
When we think about the role of a BA, the main duties that come to our mind are requirements gathering and documentation, conveying those requirements to the team, being a conduit between the stakeholders and developers, etc.
Though these are the core duties of a BA, he/she can help in various other areas like coordinating the pre-sales process, preparing user guides, coordinating of UATs, etc.
I’ve heard people saying that these are some simple tasks. But this opinion stems from their inadequate understanding of what actually goes inside the so-called ‘simple tasks’. It requires an inside-out comprehension of the business and its clients, and the capacity to break down. It also requests various perspectives of concerned stakeholders. The responsibility involves effectively encouraging the communication between the stakeholders and the development team about what to make.
Read More: The Urgency of The Role of An Agile Coach
Now, What About an Agile Business Analyst?
I wanted to bring some insights into the normal tasks a BA does in a traditional way of software development. When the world moved to an agile way of working that advocates cross-functional teams, BAs will obviously be confused as to where will they actually fit in? I would like to take you through some amazing ways a BA can add value in an agile software development scenario. In other words, what’s the significance of an Agile Business Analyst in an Agile software development environment.
There are debates as to if the role of a BA is that of a “Proxy Product Owner”, implying the role of helping the actual Product Owner, who is busy with a lot of other things like Product Management and ensuring profitability, etc. Let’s explore what are the best ways in which BA can help agile teams to stay creatively productive.
1. An Agile Business Analyst Contributes to Product Vision
Companies can leverage BA’s expertise in the product vision phase itself. The BA will be able to dig deep into the domain and specifications for product requirements such as identifying appropriate stakeholders and timelines. The BA can act as a Business Guide to help the Product Owner make the right decisions, the BA can also step in whenever the Product Owner is stuck due to a time conflict on other priorities.
2. Assist in Backlog Creation and Grooming
Business Analysts can help the Product Owner get stories from the models made during the needs and requirements analysis. This is practically equivalent to distinguishing the business necessities of the tasks and setting up the underlying extensions of the tasks. Backlog grooming can be a real pain for the PO. Total ‘as is’ and ‘to be’ analysis is BA’s specialty. By advising the PO, this professional can set the right priority for the backlog
A Business Analyst can add just the right amount of detail to a user story prior to sprint planning. This will enable the team to save a lot of time while discussing the stories in sprint planning. This will make it easy for the team to come up with the right estimation. A Business Analyst can also help with writing proper acceptance criteria and Definition of Done (DoD).
3. Act as a Subject Matter Expert
BA being the right person in every business comes in the shoes of subject matter experts (SMEs). BA can help clarify the doubts and concerns of the team. In instances of domain-specific help, BA can guide the team on the whys and hows.
4. Serve as the Knowledge Hub
Though agile doesn’t talk much about documentation, my take on it is that there has to be someone documenting things on the go. We cannot waste developers’ time on this. Here, a BA can help the team with the necessary documentation. This will be very handy when we shuffle team members after some sprints and when a new member is in. We all know the pain it takes to explain back and forth about the project/product. If there is a central hub that can distribute all this information for a newbie, it is the BA. If this is happening we can see a lot of productivity hikes.
I have seen BAs contributing in a much broader way. This differs from organization to organization. I have seen BAs excelling as Scrum Masters since they have the business grip. BAs can easily ensure team outputs align with broader business strategies. These professionals can contribute to helping scrum masters and product owners are able to run an action-oriented retrospective for team improvement.