An Agile team has three main roles - development team, testing team, and product manager. In this typical team, the product owner is the ultimate decision-maker for the project. However, in order to be fully effective, the product owner needs to be well versed in many core business analysis techniques, which they rarely are. This is where an Agile Business Analyst comes in to contribute significantly to the project.
What is an Agile Business Analyst?
The main goal of an Agile Business Analyst is to solve business problems as and when they occur. While the rest of the Agile team is focused on producing new pieces of working software in every iteration or sprint, they are focused on the main goal of the entire project. Because they are not so focused on documenting all the requirements and rules for the project, they can spend more time on actual business analysis.
Role of an Agile Business Analyst
One of the key roles of an Agile Business Analyst is to support the product owner with the decision-making process so that they don’t go rogue during the project. Here are some more roles and responsibilities of an Agile Business Analyst:
1. Recognize the Business Needs
An Agile BA holds discussions with stakeholders to understand their requirements and their vision of the product. This is then translated into business needs and communicated to the team members to make them understand the expectations of the project.
2. Analyze the Business Domain
An Agile BA needs to analyze the whole system in detail - from the first iteration to the release phase of the project. They work closely with the development team to understand the initial requirement of the project, the scope of the project, and also identify automation areas of the project.
3. Stock and Groom the Product Catalog
Stocking the product backlog refers to establishing user stories that represent the overall scope of the project. Agile BA help the product owner establish user stories from the requirement models created during business analysis.
Grooming the product backlog refers to maintaining the product backlog so that it does not become a burden on the product owner and the team. Agile BA achieve this by considering purpose, organizing and prioritizing user stories, and splitting epics into user stories.
4. Helps Team Understand the Big Picture
An Agile BA helps the team to get a better grasp of the project and where it fits within the organizational strategy. This can be done by facilitating a number of discussions such as:
- What business processes should be created, eliminated, or revised?
- What stakeholders are involved in the project?
- What information should be tracked?
- What policies and rules should be followed that affect business behavior and decisions?
Skills Required to be an Agile Business Analyst
A high-performing Agile BA ensures that the product meets true business needs and fits in well with the current business environment. The key skills required to become one are:
Good Communication Skills
An Agile BA needs to communicate with nearly everyone and consider everybody’s needs and concerns. At the same time, they should ensure a shared understanding of the product vision and requirements. All of these require good communication skills to negotiate and influence both the team and the stakeholders.
In-Depth Business Knowledge
As an Agile BA is the “go-to” person for both the team and stakeholders, they need to have a thorough understanding of the business, product, and vision. In addition to having in-depth business and product knowledge, they must be able to recognize and prioritize business value as well.
Flexibility and Adaptability
As Agile teams are cross-functional and self-organizing, an Agile BA must learn to continuously self-reflect and think how best they can contribute to the team. They should be able to easily adapt to new and changing requirements by doing detailed analysis beforehand.
Knowledge of Different Tools and Techniques
Agile tools and techniques make the team more effective. They help to ease backlog management, provide real-time collaboration, make estimates and reports for sprints and releases, etc. A good grasp of the different tools and techniques available for Agile is a crucial skill in order to become an Agile BA.
How to Build a Career as an Agile Business Analyst?
The first step to becoming an Agile Business Analyst is to develop an Agile mindset. If you are already a business analyst starting out with Agile, here are some ways you can build a career as an Agile Business Analyst:
- Understand the Agile methodology and how it works
- Shadow the product owner for the first few projects to understand the role of the product owner in an Agile team
- Think in terms of “user stories”
- Understand the value of story points for product decisions
- Hone your communication and negotiation skills (you need to negotiate back and forth with the stakeholders and Agile teams)
An Agile BA isn’t that drastic of a change from the traditional business analyst role that we know of. However, Agile is a change-driven vs. plan-driven approach. This means that the main goal is to eliminate wasteful work and prioritize the highest-value work for the team.
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What Should You Do Next?
An Agile Business Analyst is highly critical in environments with changing scopes and requirements. As such, it is not an easy feat and anyone willing to venture into this space must be ready to step up to the challenge. There is no shortcut to becoming an Agile Business Analyst but certifications offered by premier educational institutions can boost your success in this field. Suppose you want to learn more, we have our Simplilearn’s Business Analyst Master’s Program which is launched in order to help professionals like you on all three aspects of Business Analysis - planning and monitoring, requirements elicitation, and requirements management and communication. This course contains all the latest tools and techniques for business analysis and you will get the opportunity to work on real-world projects and attend Masterclasses from IBM experts. Get started with this course today and get one step closer to achieving your dream career.