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28 September 2009

Rethinking the role of a BA on Agile projects

Scott Ambler has a pretty solid library of tools and techniques on all sorts of agile practices. One particular essay he has written is on “Rethinking the role of the Business Analyst; Towards Agile Analysts?”
I read Scott’s basic view on the topic as two main points;
  • Analysis is critical to project success, analysts are not, and
  • The right degree of up front analysis is not none, but it is not as much as people expect
I buy both these propositions.

Scott has a third position;
  • The role of the BA is to overcome barriers such as competency and time
In his essay Scott calls the BA a “Band Aid” – highlighting the role as a patch for a more deeply ingrained problem.

I don’t buy that one. While he has some valid points, the BA in an enterprise also plays a legitimate & important role in balancing competing priorities. Scott will say that this is the role of a project sponsor, but in truth senior managers have to delegate.

A BA may – can – and in many cases – should - act as a product owner or sponsor/customer advocate. It’s a natural evolution of many Business Analysts roles.

This adoption of responsibility can be done with or without adopting agile processes and practices. It’s about taking responsibility for project/product outcomes and working with the team on achieving them.