In this episode, I answer questions submitted from listeners. Questions about Agile, DevOps, and remote elicitation are answered.

Listeners and conference attendees often send me questions.  Today, I’ll share my answers to the most common questions I receive.


Q: I’m early in my BA career.  Where should I focus to build my skills?

A: Where to focus depends on your current skill level and the skills that Business Analysts in your organization need to be successful (assuming you are looking to stay at your organization).  With that in mind, I have a few suggestions.

I recommend talking to successful business analyst in your organization (or their managers) to understand the skills and characteristics of high-performing business analyst. With that information, you can see if you have those same skills or where to focus.  Think of this as your personal SWOT analysis.

Of course, you can always benefit from strong facilitation and communication skills regardless of your role or organization.


Q: Do you have any thoughts about how DevOps affects Business Analysts?

A: It really depends on the context.  For a traditional BA who focuses only on upfront opportunity identification and requirements, there’s not that much impact.

For a BA who is either on an Agile team delivering software using a DevOps approach or even a BA in a waterfall environment who sees a solution through implementation, they may have a few impacts to their process.

It’s important that the intent (requirements, solutions, user stories, etc.) to be delivered is created in small increments and they may be called upon to help testers or software engineers develop appropriate tests.  Without small increments and a solid test suite, DevOps doesn’t work very well.


Q: What advice do you have for being successful with remote requirements elicitation?

A: If your only option for eliciting requirements is a virtual meeting (via Skype or WebEx), the biggest challenge is stakeholder engagement.  There’s a tendency for people to multitask and disengage in virtual meetings.  To be successful, you need some upfront preparation work and use a few tactics to minimize multitasking.

Prior to the meeting, work to discover the needs and context of your stakeholders.  If you have an explicit set of questions, send them to your stakeholder a few days before the meeting.  That will allow them to come prepared with answers or bring subject matter experts who can answer your questions.

Also, be sure to share the logistics, expectations, goal, and desired outcome of the meeting in advance.

During the meeting, use video.  That will help minimize multitasking.  Even if your stakeholders can’t use video, use video on your end.  You should also use a shared whiteboard or document to display the information you’ve captured.

After the meeting, send attendees a recap of key decisions made and any follow up items.


Listen to the full episode to get more answers, including where a BA fits in an Agile organization, what certifications are most valuable, and more.



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