In this episode, Bob Woods helps us understand how a Business Analyst can complete an agile team and dispels some of the myths and misconceptions about agile.


Bob Woods

Bob Woods

Agile Coach & Delivery Manager at MATRIX Resources

Bob Woods is an Agile Coach and Delivery Manager at MATRIX. He has been in IT for over 18 years serving in such roles as Sr. Systems and Networking Engineer, Project Manager, Program Manager, and Agile Coach.  Bob has spent years working with organizations on collaborative lean development, Agile testing techniques, requirements analysis, project envisioning, relationship management, and Agile leadership.

After listening to this episode, you'll understand:

  • The myths about the role of a business analyst in agile
  • The realities of being an Agile BA and how a BA can support an agile transition
  • How a BA can complete an agile team

Show Notes

In many organizations transitioning to agile, the Business Analysts feels like either they have no place or are unsure what their role should be.  As a result, some myths about the role of a Business Analyst on an agile team are common.

The reality is that organizations that are embracing the agile concepts are finding that the Business Analyst is a critical role on agile teams.  There are types of Business Analysts with the right mindset to go from a strict waterfall environment to an agile environment and really help the team to be successful.  A strong Business Analyst with the right mindset can also help dispel some of those myths about agile that are holding organizations back from transitioning or seeing the benefits of agile.


Myth: There’s No Documentation in Agile

This is a common misconception.  Documentation is needed in agile, especially in regulated environments.  However, it’s not the same type of documentation in traditional (waterfall) approaches.

The focus is on Lean documentation.  Business Analysts can help by understanding documentation needs and prune it down and create lean, valuable documentation in the right ways so we can still be compliant and do the right thing.  Think of documentation as the simplest thing that will work done just in time.


Myth: There’s No Role for a BA on an Agile Team

The fact that the Business Analyst is quickly becoming a critical role for agile teams.  There are strong parallels between what a great agile team does (adapt quickly, work with the business daily, deliver business value, collaborate, continuously improve, etc.) and the role of a great Business Analyst.  The Business Analyst can use their skills in these areas to create a high performing agile team.

What about the Product Owner?  There seems to be a lot of overlap between the role of the Product Owner and the Business Analyst.

While there can be some overlap between roles, the Product Owner is often more outward (customer) facing while the Business Analyst is often more inward (team) facing or right in the middle.  Product Owners can focus on product vision, ordering the backlog to achieve the highest value, and even marketing and other operational aspects of delivery.  Business Analysts often create models to develop a shared understanding of customer needs and  other approaches to help decompose and refine small pieces of value (via User Stories or Use Cases) that the team can deliver.

Product Owner / Business Analyst Relationship

Image from Bob Woods’ Agile 2015 Presentation


Where overlap in the roles exist, there’s an opportunity for the Product Owner and Business Analyst to collaborate and work together to help the team deliver superior value to the customer.  Each can be both inward and outward facing, just to different degrees.


The Mindset Shift

The change in mindset that needs to take place for a Business Analyst to be successful in an agile environment includes a shift towards lean, simplicity, and transparency.  This also requires maximizing the amount of time spent on the right things.

Remember . . . It’s not about you, it’s about the team.  A great Business Analyst will use their skills to set the team up for success.  In agile, you either succeed as a team or you fail as a team.


Agile BA, You Complete Me

A great agile Business Analyst can complete a team.  A BA can help the team to collaborate better, create a shared understanding, be a final set of eyes on quality, and help the team focus on delivering the right value to the customer.

“Having a BA on the team is not a Get Out of Engagement Free card for the Product Owner.”

However, it’s important to note that just because you have a Business Analyst on the team, that doesn’t mean you can drop some of the activities important to each agile team member’s role.



Your Homework

  1. Read the book, Discover to Deliver and learn about the Seven Product Dimensions and structured conversations.  Help individuals focus on the seven dimensions that make up a great product.
  2. Continue to provide a leadership role for your team.  Help them to apply the principles of agility.  Go back to the 12 principles of the Agile Manifesto and think about how your role can be defined in each principle.  That will help you become an Agile BA.

What’s your take?

Have you experienced and myths or misconceptions about agile or the role of the BA?  Please share your experience and comments in the section below.


Links mentioned in this episode:

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