Friday, 13 September 2019 11:00

Business Analyst transformation under Agile

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It is a mandate that all organizations move towards agile methodologies given that waterfall methodology has been conclusively proved to be inefficient.

Under agile using scrum, there are three roles – scrum master, product owner and development team. The place of business analysts in the agile framework is needs considerations as there are myths and misunderstanding surrounding the same. This whitepaper addresses the vision and history of business analysis role and how it can be indispensable to the agile framework.

Myths Debunked

The role of business analysis work is misunderstood even at large institutions and more so under agile as there is less documentation and the role ‘development team’ is not intuitive. This myth is caused due to a bias of linking IT projects to programmers who build the software totally disregarding the need to understand business requirements.

  • Less documentation – As Agile emphasizes on lightweight documentation to be done is small iterations, there is no need for detailed requirements documents that need sign off across the board.
    Less documentation still means right requirements that fulfils the business case is critical.
  • Should development team include BA? – Development team creates an impression that it comprises only a group of programmers who can write requirements themselves.
    This approach can create communication gap, delays and a system that doesn’t evolve with business needs.
  • IT should add business value - What is more subtle and misunderstood is the fact that the software development is done to satisfy business needs that keep changing and needs clear expression and communication from business end users to the development team.

Business Analysis Redefined

The below diagram defines business analysis skills through the lens of Sidney Field’s skill matrix technique. The skill matrix of a business analyst is broken into Functional skills, Special knowledge and Self-management skills. 

Primary Business Analysis Skills

The following are the primary skills of a typical business analyst based on the above matrix.

Domain Knowledge

The business analyst educates the team with domain knowledge and how it translates into business value for the client.

Understanding the Big Picture

The business analyst is one of the early members to engage the client to define epic and user story list. The business analyst also maps the system requirements to business value.

Problem Solving

The business analyst has the important task of solving business problems by discussing feasibility of converting requirements that are sometimes conflicting into an IT solution.

Communication Skills

The business analyst is required to communicate length and breadth from development to client stakeholders.

Documentation and Presentation

Business analyst being a liaison between business stakeholders and development team must have good documentation and presentation skills to convey the requirements with clarity.

Estimation

The business analyst plays a key role in estimation of requirements by conveying the business complexity and priority often negotiating with the business stakeholders.


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Pi-shaped Skills or Comb-Shaped Skills for Business Analysts

The era of narrow specialization is over. Today, the demand is for every individual to be multi-disciplined and multi-faceted. It has been scientifically proved that multi-disciplinary skills enable deep insights and profound ideas.

The following are some of the complimentary skills that a business analyst can hone to be a true multi-functional resource.

Understanding the Tech Trends

It is crucial to understand the tech trends and how they shape business. New technology advancements like machine learning, big data, blockchain, AI, robotics are bringing a paradigm shift.

Data Analysis

In the era of big data, a business analyst is engaged to do data analysis and work closely with date scientists by story boarding and building a business case.

Quality Assurance

The business analyst closely partners with quality assurance team and sometimes does the bulk of testing to deliver a good product to the client. Another good opportunity is to engage in BDD (business driven development).

Process Management

Process management is integral to every project and business analyst can become an evangelist of agile process management.

Role Transformation

The role of Business Analyst needs transformation with changing tech trends. The business analyst can take up any of the below roles or part of the responsibilities to become a truly multi-functional.

Product Owner

The business analysts can act / represent the product owner for the development team. The business analyst can also be empowered to prioritize user stories.

Product Manager

This could be natural progression for a business analyst to expand into creating product vision supported by market research, execution till marketing the product.

Business Data Analyst

Data analysis is a great complimentary skill for a business analyst as it will be insightful to view data through the lens of a business user. The most common tools are EXCEL and R.

Process Manager / Operations

Understanding ‘As Is’ process flows and analyzing them for improvement is an area where business analysts can help address pain points of the project. This requires interactions with the end users to understand their day to day activities and mapping business stages and milestones.

Scrum Master

Scrum master is also a good role for a business analyst as this role primarily helps to keep the team motivated and focused while helping them to solve problems. As business analyst are problem solvers, they can leverage this transferable skill to be a Scrum master.

DevOps and Cloud Migration

These are great areas where business analysts can lend their inputs and can add great value to the project and organization.

Conclusion

The technology landscape is changing faster than ever and business analysts need to innovate and transform to adapt. We stand at a turning point in the evolution of information technology and this presents a unique and tremendous opportunity to innovate and evolve.\The objective of this whitepaper is to propose a framework where skills set of business analyst role can be analyzed scientifically and mapped to different opportunities.

 

References

Agile extension to the BABOK guide – IIBA
What color is your parachute 2019 – Richard N Bolles

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Balaji Angiya Nagarajan

Balaji Angiya Nagarajan is a Lead Business Analyst at Mphasis Corporation in the domain of capital markets and risk management. He has over 16 years of work experience in business analysis, quality assurance and project management. He is passionate about Agile methodology and is a certified CSPO from Scrum Alliance.

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