18 March 2009

Requirements management as Agency

The blog post "Where have all the agents gone" by Seth Godin prompted recurring questions for me;

How is it that there are requirements managers still out there when all they do is transport requirments from users/stakeholders to the development team?

What value do these peple add beyond saving you the pain of filling in corporate templates?

How should a business analyst (or product owner or customer advocate) contribute to the reqirements management process?

Where is the value you are adding?

Picture by timlewisnm CC @ Flickr


  1. Anonymous3:48 am

    I think business analyst is person who doesn't simply transfer dreams of business to nightmares of IT. Business analyst needed when somebody has a problem and doesn't have a solution for that problem, that's where business analysts really needed. BA should analyse problem, stakeholders, get requirements if they exists or define them if they aren't exist. And then design solution which solve customer's problem.
    This is how we adding value. In case when customer/business has requirements and clearly knows what the problem is and how solution of problem look like, BA needed only to transfer business ideas to IT peoples.

    My 5 cents.

  2. Anonymous8:26 pm

    The role of people standing between client and internal IT team is more about being a translator than an agent.

    Developers don't want to listen to business people from the customer. Most of them find it hard to talk on that level. They need translators who can understand all this business blah blah and translate it to pure beauty of technical design.

    On the other side these middlemen should help to improve business case with the customer. Since it's possible that the customer implements this kind of solution for the first time and you did it a dozen times already you have better judgement what will work and what will not. You know what your product can do and what won't be possible even in a version you plan for the last quarter of 2011. It's a bit like bringing customers more to reality but it doesn't automatically mean you have to change the business case for worse.

  3. To Kostya... great first line, should TM it!

    To Pawel... yes. 'translator' is a great analogy, one I use all the time.

    Overall... a business person filling out a template to hand to developers, now that's really a nightmare scenario.

    What is needed is problem/opportunity definition, scoping, and the facilitation/elicitation of Requirements, then analysis and review. The result can then be used as input to a Business Case. ...all of this is BA 'work'.

    Could we be automated out of our role? Never say never. Code generation is a possible replacement for programmers, and if/when that takes off, then Requirements would be next.

    There is a similar discussion going on elsewhere, about the role of Project Managers, are they needed and such. One post noted how the writer/PM had gone on vacation, and how screwed up their project was when they got back. Should be the same for BAs.