The What, Why and How of an Agile BA

PMI Southern Alberta Chapter

Mike Griffiths is a consultant and trainer who help organizations improve performance through shared leadership, agility and (un)common sense. He maintains the blog LeadingAnswers.com.

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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