What is an Agile Business Analyst?
The role of an Agile Business Analyst is not well defined, but for certain he has an important role in the team. Sometimes, the role is under the hat of Product Owner, but for sure in big or enterprise projects it is hard to maintain the requirements under the same hat. In the first place the Agile BA needs to be the role responsible with the requirements of the project/product that is build. But are there other skills & mindsets that such a role must have?
What is the mindset of an Agile Business Analyst?
The essence of being agile is adaptability. Our challenges are dictating if we need to use an agile approach or if we could use waterfall. Everybody loves waterfall - it is very clear, smoothly and would love to apply it all the time. The challenges appear when uncertainty comes into place and you need to adapt to the new situation. This is why adaptability is a very strong concept in our agile world.
Business and goal orientation
Through goal orientation, an agile BA understands and brings value in solving business problems. The goal orientation helps them in the necessity of system thinking, in order not to lose the big picture in the current sprints.
This role is looking for new approaches in terms of solving the business problem and improvements to the business processes in which the problem exists. Also, it is imperative to hold interviews with possible clients that are not bias and to interpret the outcome.
The leader' s role is achieved with facilitation, communication, influence and not through authority. Usually they should assure that they understand the big challenges in their organisation in order to be perceived and maintain their leadership position.
Agile BAs should have the ZEN attitude towards all the business roles implicated at the organisation level: business sponsors, customers (internal, but external as well) and they should become some sort of a mediator between these roles in order to achieve what is needed towards success.
Agile Business Analyst - which are the skills needed?
Business Domain Knowledge
Knowledgable person in the domain that they activate in order to understand processes, metrics and of course the business
Identify the "what-is" versus "will-be", in order to improve and innovate the process level.
Writing individual stories
This is the tool that all the agile business analysts need to relate to in order to bring value on the table, but this is not the only thing that they should do. They can start with EPICS in order to have an overview of the system. They need to discuss on the stories with all the team members and be clear and concise on the input/output of stories.
Integration with related projects
This is why, from my perspective, a great agile BA has a good understanding of the projects and products at the organisation level to find better ways to obtain the unfair advantage of the company into the market.
Let's see some challenges that business analysts have?
Level of the uncertainty at the business level
The traditional role of the business analyst is trying to get all the requirements from the beginning, which could lead to some delays. The agile BA is more focused on addressing the business risks from the beginning and to engage more, being into the same team with developers, testers and so on.
Emphasis on Documentation - Requirements document
The traditional role of the business analyst is putting a lot of efforts to have from the beginning a great set of functionalities for the entire system. The agile BA is focussed on innovation and advantages of the solution that they offer instead of writing a lot of documentation that can easily become obsolete because of the rapid changes that happen nowadays.
Some (final) thoughts
In the small projects maybe an agile business analyst is not needed as in big/enterprise projects. Even so, he/she can bring a lot of value on the table as they have the characteristics described below.
Sometimes, the role of an agile BA could be overlapped with the role of an Agile Project Manager. But this subject will be taking care in another topic.
Please check some differences between Agile Business Analyst and Agile Product Owner, here.