Project Management

The What, Why and How of an Agile BA

Mike Griffiths is an experienced project manager, author and consultant who works for PMI as a subject matter expert. Before joining PMI, Mike consulted and managed innovation and technology projects throughout Europe, North and South America for 30+ years. He was co-lead for the PMBOK Guideā€”Seventh Edition, lead for the Agile Practice Guide, and contributor to the PMI-ACP and PMP exam content outlines. Outside of PMI, Mike maintains the websites about leading teams and, which teaches project management for visual learners.

The role of the business analyst (BA) in agile projects in some ways parallels the role of the project manager (PM)…in that some people believe these roles are not needed at all! The Scrum Guide, for instance, that outlines the Scrum methodology describes only three roles: ScrumMaster, product owner, and development team. Even when you look deeper into the Guide’s description for the development team role, it does not mention analysts or analysis work. However, most organizations agree that good BAs are great assets for any team, be it plan driven, agile or hybrid.

This article examines what BAs really do, looking at what stays the same on an agile project and what changes. The quick version is that the what and the why fundamentals stay the same, but all the how, when, where and with whom details change dramatically.

Let’s start with what business analysts are supposed to do (I say “supposed to do” rather than actually do because yours might watch cat videos most of their time, and that is not what they are supposed to do!). Business analysts elicit, analyze, communicate, manage and validate requirements. They also help understand the business and make sure the solutions fit the business. In addition, they help translate technical issues to the business and facilitate stakeholder communications.

Why they do these things should be fairly …

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