Software development is a sector that has revolutionized and shaped itself extensively over the decades. We are at a point in the times where smart work is prioritized over hard work. This is what drove the sector’s shift towards the AGILE approach from the traditional waterfall model.
A management approach which was initially confined to software development, is now slowly expanding to different parts of all types of businesses. With the IT industry steadily developing a preference towards the AGILE methodology, one of the roles that take the center stage is that of the business analyst.
Business Analyst in the waterfall model
Playing a powerful role in software development for quite some time, business analysts had initially been given the responsibility of evoking requirements from the consumers and subject matter experts and for making documents regarding business requirements when the waterfall model was followed.
In addition, Business Analysts also partook in informal or formal testing following the completion of the development phase. Yet when it comes to AGILE, there’s not really a defined role for the business analyst. This approach drives organizations to pursue consistent change, allowing them to prosper in a perpetually revolutionizing world.
Yet precisely summing up the role a business analyst plays in an AGILE context is complicated with most frameworks doubting the specific formulation approach of a team.
Firstly let’s start by getting a coherent idea regarding what AGILE exactly is.
What is AGILE?
AGILE is a ceaseless approach towards software development and project management aiding teams in satisfying their customers in a swifter manner and with minimal hassle.
Rather than the team putting all its eggs in one basket and preparing for that final big launch, AGILE teams deliver work in small, yet valuable additions. The requirements, results and plans are assessed constantly to enable teams to maintain a natural mechanism for coping with change swiftly.
(Must read: What is Agile software development?)
Role of a business analyst
In order to understand how an AGILE business analyst differs from the conventional one, we will firstly throw light on the general role of a business analyst.
The Business analyst generally essays the role of the owner, making the decisions in relation to the business. Through their analytical ability they grasp the system and the product being operated on.
The business analyst instructs the business requirements prior to them being operated on by the team.
The process flow and interaction diagram, etc is mapped by the business analyst.
The concluding decision making regarding the development of the product is taken by the business analyst handling the back and forth interaction with the stakeholders and the customers.
Now let’s focus on the role of a business analyst in AGILE.
What is an AGILE business analyst?
AGILE business analyst or we can say an AGILE BA is a business analyst that handles projects through AGILE approaches. These approaches are characterized by adaptive planning, prompt and faster delivery, responding to change swiftly and smoothly, suitable empowerment of people, constant enhancement.
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Skills of an AGILE Business Analyst
From adaptability, goal orientation, innovation, leadership, empathy, business orientation to anticipation there are many skills an AGILE Business analyst possesses, which have been elaborated before.
With the focus not being merely on developing the software and stating the development team requirements, AGILE business analysts state the enhancements to business procedures, aid decision-makers in accumulating data for making decisions, aiding in designing user interfaces and in shaping the quality assurance test products and solutions as well as in stepping in to play the role of a project manager, product owner, or a scrum master whenever required.
An AGILE business analyst aims at offering an advantage to an organization by resolving business issues. As the developers prioritize updating the software every two weeks, the business analyst in AGILE prioritizes focusing on the overall problem that the completion of the project will resolve.
By having an idea of the ultimate goal or solution placed at their behest, the analyst keeps track of the project and deciphers if the issue can be resolved or not.
With the solution development team intent on prioritising the backlog items completion in a rigid manner, abiding by the instructions of the product owner as provided by the product backlog in focus, to ensure that the software is updated every 2 weeks, the AGILE business analyst meanwhile is on the lookout for fresh methods to resolve the business issue and offer enhancements to the business procedure where the issue prevails.
Skills of a Business Analyst
The AGILE Business Analyst essays the role of a leader in enabling constant enhancement to the business and in offering solutions to business issues. Here, the skill of leadership is not accomplished solely with authority but also through interaction and facilitation.
By dealing with upper level management, technical personnel, sponsors, consumers and solution team, the AGILE Business analyst displays empathy and essays the role of a mediator, being calm in the face of a storm.
The business analyst in AGILE is focused strictly on planning the ideas for enhancing the organization and the business procedures propelled by the business. Being highly business oriented, the analyst is not just focused on what actions the solution team needs to undertake but also on what the business should do for resolving business issues.
Having knowledge regarding the issue and the particular business aspect where the issue is prevalent, the AGILE business analyst is able to anticipate the good and bad outcomes to the remaining organization areas. Yet the solution needs to be suitable for the entire organization rather than only helping a certain area.
The AGILE business analyst has to hold enough freedom for assessing potential solutions on the basis of the overall effect to the company instead of the impact of the specific business field and its managers.
(Must read: Top Business analytics tools)
Role of an AGILE Business Analyst
The business analyst prepares the product backlog. The backlog is arranged by the product owner and then passed on to the business analyst to be licked into shape.
They communicate with the customer to interpret their requirements and figure out solutions.
They develop user stories while ensuring that they abide by the acceptance criteria.
The stories created by the product owner are reviewed by the business analyst to affirm if they are in accordance with the business rules.
They interact with all the involved parties, from the technical team to the customers and the product owner to ensure that there is no breach at any point.
Ultimately formulates documents like wireframes.
The business analyst can play the role of both a product owner and even work as a team member. We have analyzed the role of a business analyst as a product owner and a team member ahead.
(Referred blog: Business Analytics Framework)
Business Analyst as Product Owner
The business analyst takes charge of all the doubts regarding product, business or documentation.
The business analyst handles both the team as well as the stakeholders.
The analyst coordinates with the customer comprehend what they require and then documents it.
The user story is then created and later arranged.
The user story is then elaborated by the business analyst, who is required to be physically present, to the team who is instructed regarding the starting point and how they are required to begin.
The business analyst is required to have detailed knowledge regarding the product. This in turn would result in the proper development and product delivery.
Role of Business Analyst as a Team Member
The business analyst has knowledge of what is required and formulates the documentation accordingly while also preparing the backlog alongside the team.
Thorough explanations are offered by the business analyst to the team, in case of any acceptance criteria that is obscurely drafted.
Flow documents and wireframes are prepared by the analyst to provide detailed information.
The business analyst takes part in sprint discussions as well as meetings with the customers.
Being a part of the technical team they aid the team in properly writing stories.
User stories can be broken down swiftly by the analyst for aiding the team in completing an assigned task, allowing the product to be prepared in advance while being in accordance with the quality standards.
(Also read: Real-world applications of business analytics)
It’s not just when it comes to playing a proxy for product owners or for handling some of the product owner duties where AGILE Business Analysts steps in, there are many additional areas they offer plenty of advantages in, ranging aiding or leading product discovery activities like quantitative and qualitative data analysis, or preparing product experiments.
It would be interesting to observe how the role of the AGILE business analyst is revolutionized and shaped further over the years.