The Agile Business Analyst

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The Agile Business Analyst
By: Mike Cottmeyer, V. Lee Henson
Executive Summary
Contents Rapidly changing market conditions are requiring companies to shorten delivery cycles and become more responsive to customer expectations. Agile development methodologies are leading the way, helping software development teams adjust to the new economy. Agile challenges our notion of software engineering best practices, project management methodology, and how we lead our teams. The Agile movement impacts every role on a project team differently and creates opportunities to learn new skills and develop new ways of working together. Agile development is having a significant impact on the Business Analyst community. Agile introduces a significant shift in how teams look at requirements and when they are defined in the process. Agile Business Analysts are an integrated part of the team throughout the life of the project and facilitate collaboration across a broader cross section of the project team and the business. Collaboration, facilitation, leadership, coaching, and team building become significant new skills required for Business Analysts on Agile projects. Leadership and collaboration are key components critical to their success. With these new skills and new ways of looking at the development process, Business Analysts are well positioned to become critical to the success of Agile teams. Executive Summary .............................. 1 Introduction ......................................... 1 Traditional Requirements Definition ...... 2 Agile Project Management Explained .... 2 Collaborative Requirements .................. 2 Agile Requirements Defined ................. 3 Managing Agile Requirements .............. 4 New Skills for the Agile BA ................... 4 The BA and the Team ........................... 4 Agile on a Traditional Project ................ 5 Conclusion ........................................... 5

Introduction
Moving from traditional project work to agile project work will impact each functional role on a project team differently: • For Business Analysts (BA), successfully managing an agile project depends on defining requirements in smaller increments and working more collaboratively with the team through the life of the project. • For Project Managers, success moving to Agile development methodologies depends on acquiring the skills necessary to progressively plan a project through its lifecycle rather than at the onset. Project Managers will also need to adopt new ways of understanding project control and risk. 1 • For Quality Testers, evolving to an agile framework will mean developing the skills necessary to write tests and validate code in parallel with development. This paper will explore the impact agile development methodologies are having on the BA community, what new skills are required, and what BAs can do to ease the transition.

Traditional Requirements Definition Business Analysts are conditioned to believe that they can and should define detailed requirements at the beginning of a project. Inherent in this philosophy are several challenging assumptions. Traditional requirements analysis: • Assumes that the customer can definitively know, articulate, and functionally define what the system or software should do at the end of the project • Assumes that, once documented, the requirements will not change – at least not without potential project delays, budget overruns, or stunted feature sets • Assumes that the requirements process is confined to a single product owner who sits apart from the development team envisioning the product • Does not acknowledge the inherent uncertainty in software development that Agile methodologies seek to embrace Experience tells us that these assumptions are faulty. As we learn more about the evolving system, our knowledge will influence the system we want to build. The process of building the system helps the team learn more about what is...
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