The Fine Art of a Perfect Match
Why Agile Loves Business Analysts
A random conversation with a business analyst
“Oh, you are a business analyst! That’s great! So you are a requirements engineer?” Nope. “Ah. But what do you do then?” I analyse business. “Oh I see, that’s cool. What business do you analyse?” Well, I analyse business problems and opportunities to figure out the business needs and try to find solutions which cover the business need. “But needs are requirements, right?” Yes, and requirements are a central aspect of business analysis. “So why are you not a requirements engineer?”. Because business analysis includes more areas of knowledge then requirements engineering. “But you do requirements engineering?” Yes. “Sorry, I don’t get it”. Never mind, let’s go for lunch.
Where does the business analyst fit in?
The role of the business analyst is a challenging one to make sense of, as it is just not quite as straight forward as “project management” or “process management” or “requirements engineering” or “program management”. It seems to float across and in between them all, making it seem a bit elusive.
Over the past few years the IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis) as well as other national and international organisations have made big efforts to create a global understanding of what business analysis is about and how the role of the business analyst adds value to an organisation. However, with many organisations embracing the “magic” of agile, trying to find a space for business analysts can seem even more confusing, because many agile approaches simply don’t acknowledge the specific role in their philosophy.
Added value and customer focus Despite the lack of a specific role, all agile approaches refer to business analysis expertise as a key factor for success. They even allow for a clearer and specific description of business analysis, which I think has a lot to do with the following two notions about agile:
focus on the customer
only do it if it ads value for the customer
That is very much what business analysis is about. Adding value to an organisation by making sure the organisation can offer products and services the customers want in an effective and efficient manner.
In agile, the business side of organisations is very strongly recognised as the part of the organisation which knows the customer, serves the customer, takes care of the customer, and therefore “is” the customer. The business representative is given an extremely important role within an agile team. By helping the development team gain insight into the customer’s needs, problems and delights, the business representative and the development team work together as one agile team with a clear focus to produce increments which add proper value to the respective product.
The value of business analysts in an agile environment
The main responsibility for business analysts is to focus on adding value to an organisation and enable the organisation to manufacture services and products which meet the needs of their customers. Business analysts support the alignment of product roadmaps to the organisation’s visions and strategy. They also foster a common understanding within the agile teams about the organisation’s goals and objectives.
The outcome of business analysis supports the coordination of prioritising the organisation’s product development. It supports product managers and product owners to align their product roadmap with the organisation’s desired future state, therefore enabling effective product development.
Business analysts work closely with agile teams, supporting and facilitating the conversation between the business representatives and the development teams to ensure the common understanding of the organisation’s goals, objectives and priorities based on the organisation’s strategy to reach the desired future state.
Want to find out more about agile business analysis? Would you like to know how the business analyst fits into your organisation? Are you a business analyst trying to find your place in an agile environment? Or do you simply learn about agile business analysis? Why not visit my 2-day seminar “Certified Agile Business Analysis (CABA)”, which is part of the Glenfis Academy’s agile course portfolio, which provides you with helpful insights into how you can take advantage of the versatile expertise of the business analysis role in agile environments.