Agile Business Analysis – sprint or a marathon?


Recently I’ve been thinking about the BA role in relation to Agile delivery and how we position ourselves on Agile projects. As when I am in training for a marathon, the analogy of sprinting or being in it for the long haul rather appealed to me.

Sprint Involvement

We should all by now be familiar with the concept of a sprint – developing working software that adds value to the business within a short period of time. Skillful business analysis has an invaluable role to play in the development sprint. We collaborate on the fine detail of user stories, we help to prioritise the new user stories that emerge during development and we influence test quality.

Early Project

Development sprints don’t exist in isolation and the skills of the BA can be instrumental in other stages of the project. From articulating the business problem, to defining  measurable objectives – the analysis starts  even before a project becomes ‘official’. As we evolve our understanding of the project, the BA challenges the scope and the high level user stories. We have a responsibility to make sure that the solution will add value and meet the business needs. The BA is  critical in building the backlog of user stories (or Prioritised Requirements List) that ultimately feeds the development activity.

At the Sharp End

During deployment and implementation, the BA’s organisational and stakeholder management skills come to the forefront. Working directly with those who are most impacted by the changes to make the transition as smooth as possible – facilitating communication, training and the roll out of new operating models.

Key Competency

And all the way through, the BA’s cornerstone competency of communication is vital to upholding the key agile principles of collaboration and interaction.

So, the BA can add value all the way through project or programme delivery, not just during the development sprint. So it’s probably time we laced up our trainers, look to the likes of Paula Radcliffe for inspiration and got ourselves ready for the endurance challenge that projects can throw at us.



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