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Scaling up to Agile Business Analyst

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Jomin Johnson,Business Analyst Lead

"Hey there, what is your job profile?

"I am a Business Analyst".

"Oh okay, That must be a lot of documentation".

For many, business analysis is all about a lot of documents, templates, and diagrams. Many who assume that he or she is doing the task of BA states that it would have been much better if we could have just followed the agile methodology. Let's just have a scrum master load the user stories, choose the priorities for the sprint and here we go. All we need is a project management tool.

Let's break this: 

If a candidate being interviewed for the role of a Business Analyst is asked a question, what is the role of business analyst, most of the candidates will have the three points capsuled in their confident reply, Communicate with stakeholders, Collect requirements and Document the requirements.

So it is a lot of documentation. If a BA defines his or her role limited to the above 3 points then there is the possibility of being themself a bad BA.

  1. You don't overload pre-defined processes into each project.

  2. You don't document everything formally. Forget about the predefined guidelines that you are supposed to follow and figure out the best document that the team needs.

  3. You don't just listen and write down the requirements. 

  4. You don't try to seek the help of the client's expertise.

The traditional and conventional approach to business analysis is of less help to the organizations and clients who want to lead the market in this swift changing economic conditions.

What the present and future industries demand is agile analysis, you don't need to stick to formal industry practices, methodologies, and guidelines. There are a wide variety of techniques, processes, and tools that can be applied to business analysis. There is no single approach that should be applied to every context. We have a lot of tools that help do business analysis that is easy to apply, but when you master how to customize those tools for the best and fast results you become an agile business analyst.

As per the Agile Extension to the BABOK Guide v2 by IIBA, Agile business analysis is the practice of business analysis in an agile context with an agile mindset. Agile business analysis can provide a competitive advantage in fast-paced and complex environments and has moved beyond software development initiatives to any business domain. Organizations have adopted agile practices at all levels of planning and in many diverse business areas. 

So how do your core activities get converted when you scale up to an agile business analyst?

  • You don't act as the communicating link between the stakeholder and the development team, instead, you provide the link between the stakeholder's strategy and the initiatives resourced to meet the goals of the strategy.

  • You don't listen to the requirement and write it down, but discover, interpret, and communicate information to increase understanding and clarity and create value.

  • Don’t take what the client says at face value, but help stakeholders make decisions on approaches, priorities, and tradeoffs to stay focused on creating value in the face of constraints, differing opinions, risks, and complexity. In short, analyze to determine what is valuable. To determine what is valuable involves understanding the purpose of requirements and ensuring options and solutions of components to continue to support the desired outcome. This includes avoiding waste by maximizing the amount of work. (One of the principles of Agile analysis as per the Agile Extension to the BABOK Guide v2 by IIBA).

  • Rather than loading more features to the product to fill the gap, a Business Analyst gives attention to feedback and analyze how well solutions satisfy the customer’s needs and the value they derive from the solution. The ongoing learning and feedback that is central to the agile mindset allow you to continually refine their understanding of the need and make changes to the solution to ensure the solution satisfies the need. 

  • Don't ask what they need, instead understand the context, solution, and stakeholders. You analyze the context of the big picture in which the need exists and how the context influences the solution. Shortly, See as a Whole. (One of the principles of Agile analysis as per the Agile Extension to the BABOK Guide v2 by IIBA).

  • Don't view the need from the organization's perspective instead, start thinking like an end customer. This will guide you in ensuring solutions that incorporate the voice of the customer through a clear understanding of the expected user experience. Start with a high-level view of customer needs and progressively disintegrate these viewpoints into increasing detail.

  • Understand the needs the solution must satisfy. (Think like a customer. One of the principles of Agile analysis as per the Agile Extension to the BABOK Guide v2 by IIBA)

  • You don’t assure that everything can be done instead, understand what is doable and then communicate to the customer. You need to analyze how you can deliver a solution within given constraints. Constraints can include the capabilities of the technology used to deliver the solution, the skills of the team, and the time in which you have to deliver a valuable solution.

  • You don’t facilitate the sign off instead, facilitate retrospectives and identify opportunities for improvement. Engage the team to have trust and safety necessary to transparently identify opportunities for improvement and implement them(Stimulate Collaboration and Continuous Improvement. One of the principles of Agile analysis as per the Agile Extension to the BABOK Guide v2 by IIBA).

Let's join the dots. You will be a bad Business Analyst if you just blindly create a lot of documents that are not going to do any value additions and end up gaining a lot of flacks. So scale up. BE an Analyst, Analyze your mode of work, figure out not-to-dos listed above in your mode of work and fix it. Deep dive into this exciting and prosperous domain. 

You will enjoy the change that you will bring to the organization and customer satisfaction.

Forget the “DON’T” and find what our Business Analyst can “DO” to make your Business better.

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