Let’s get rid of Business Analysts and ScrumMasters.”  In this episode, we’re joined by John Sextro.  John recently gave a provocative lightening talk at a conference about removing Business Analysts and ScrumMasters from agile teams.  We’ll discuss what this would mean for the BA role.

John Sextro has been in the software industry for 21 years and  coaches agile teams.  John is also the host of This Agile Life – a podcast that has a group of developers and agile coaches discuss real world issues they’re seeing in agile software development.  He is a frequent speaker at agile conferences.

After listening to this episode, you will understand:

  • Why John made the provocative statement about getting rid of Business Analysts
  • The value that ScrumMasters and Business Analysts bring to agile teams
  • What it would mean to the organization to be able to move Business Analysts and ScrumMasters off agile teams
  • How to allow teams to use a whole team approach for Business Analysis activities
  • What the Business Analyst can do for the organization if moved out of an agile team

Key Takeaways

Are Business Analysts and ScrumMasters mostly overhead to the company?

The skills are sometimes seen as something anyone on the team can have and do.  When you have a highly efficient and effective team, then may be able to move away from having a dedicated Business Analyst or ScrumMaster.

The ScrumMaster may shift from having one team to having two or three teams as the teams mature.  Business Analysts may be moved off agile teams to other roles.


What does an agile Business Analyst do?

  • Talk to users and stakeholders to discover what is currently done and what needs to change
  • Understand how people use the system and what their goals are when they interact with the system.
  • Help transition that information to the team, usually in user stories
  • Ensure that the team is focused on value and delivering the most valuable thing
  • Help the Product Owner prioritize the backlog
  • Bridge the gap between business and technology

Business Analysts help teams avoid the mistake of working on lower priority items by helping them to understand priorities and the value of their backlog items.

Once teams are mature, they may begin shifting the need for a dedicated Business Analyst and adopt a whole team approach.  This means that the team takes the tasks and responsibilities of the Business Analyst and spreads them throughout the team so that everyone is capable of speaking with users, writing user stories, understanding value, etc.


Why would an organization want to move Business Analysts off of agile teams?

Perhaps it would be more efficient for developers to speak directly with business representatives instead of going through someone like a Business Analyst.  Have developers and the Product Owner work directly with users without working to translate those interactions and collaboration into documentation.

This would remove some cost overhead for operating the team.  The organization can also add more developers to the team based on the openings created by removing the ScrumMaster and Business Analyst to increase throughput.

Business Analysts may be able to move to a higher role on the organization such as at a PMO level to provide value for more strategic or enterprise initiatives while still being available to coach and support teams when needed.

Bonus Tip: For effective stand-up meetings, focus on the value you delivered and not the tasks in which you’ve participated.  Use the same approach for your meetings.  Make sure there’s an agenda for any meeting to which you’re invited.  Also, find out why you’re invited and the value you’re expected to bring to the meeting.


Links mentioned in this episode

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