When people talk about Agile teams, the role of a business analyst is rarely mentioned. As the usage of Agile methods grows, business analysts must determine how their function fits into the new strategy and how it differs from previous development processes.
However, it doesn’t mean that business analysis doesn’t occur. On the contrary, for Agile teams to deliver value to customers, it is necessary for the entire team to perform business analysis regularly.
What is the exact role of a business analyst in an Agile team, and why is this specialist one of the keys to success?
Keep reading to find out the basics of an Agile team, the role of a business analyst, and the key functions of this position.
What Is Agile Software Development?
Agile software development is a set of methodologies based on iterative delivery with an active engagement and collaboration of cross-functional, self-organizing teams. The most popular frameworks used are Scrum and Kanban. Scrum is used for projects with well-defined tasks for the Sprint, while Kanban is generally applied for projects with many incoming tasks without a set out of scope.
Agile vs. a Classical Approach: What Is the Difference?
Agile is an iterative approach in which projects are broken into shorter Sprints. Because Agile is more adaptable with changes and developments in specification than the traditional approach, less time is spent on upfront planning and prioritizing.
In addition, applying the iteration approach for releases means that the delivery will be done in much smaller parts, but the result will be visible much faster than in classic projects.
Agile Team Structure
The Agile team is usually made up of people with several roles needed to deliver the product. The main aim of Agile teams is to be cross-functional and provide value to the project. Usually, the Agile team consists of up to nine people.
The three most commonly mentioned roles on an Agile team are product owner, team lead (Scrum master), and developer. Each of these roles has clearly defined responsibilities. Let’s check them out.
The product owner represents the client’s needs, and their job is to clearly outline the customer’s requirements and ensure they are met throughout the Agile project life cycle.
The role of the product owner is to pass on user stories and the product vision to the team. The main responsibility of a product owner is to communicate regularly with the team members, offering guidance on features to include and informing them of what needs to be prioritized.
Team Lead (Scrum Master)
A team lead is in charge of coordinating the team and ensuring that processes are carried out efficiently. The team lead is in charge of organizing incoming requests, managing tasks, monitoring workflows, and hosting meetings. They also make sure the team is adhering to the principles outlined in the Agile manifesto. A team lead is referred to as a Scrum master in Scrum.
Developers are team members that create the software based on user stories communicated by the product owner. Each developer takes responsibility for estimating, planning, and managing their tasks and reporting their progress.
Agile in Outsourcing
The Agile team structure described in the previous section is how the team should look ideally. However, in the real world, the client most often takes the role of the product owner.
Having an Agile-minded development team is a great benefit to the client, as such a team is usually quite flexible and capable of completing the tasks and proposing multiple solution options to solve a problem efficiently and with lower costs.
Now that we covered the structure of an Agile team and the roles of each team member, it’s time to discover the role of a business analyst in an Agile work environment.
What Is an Agile Business Analyst?
An Agile business analyst’s role includes multiple tasks. A business analyst defines the business’s needs and proposes solutions, drives changes, and manages requirements. In addition, the key accountability of Agile business analysts is to support the product owner with decision making. They do this by deep-diving into problems and providing options on ways to progress the product’s evolution.
What Is a Business Analyst’s Role in Agile?
Agile teams tend to function much better with a BA because they write user stories and acceptance criteria.
Here are the most common tasks an Agile business analyst is in charge of:
Defining the scope of the project. By providing well-documented requirements for the project before the development begins, a business analyst helps decrease unexpected costs and the risk of rollback during the development stage.
Identifying business needs. A business analyst helps the company understand the market better. By doing so, the company can identify useful product features and launch products customers actually want.
Prioritizing features. Business analysts on Agile teams are responsible for identifying the most critical features of a project and prioritizing them. This allows the project to be completed as efficiently as possible.
Representing the business owner and handling communication. A business analyst can quickly clarify the issues that arise during the development phase, which is helpful when the business owner and development team cannot communicate often.
Researching. From research on markets and competitors to potential customers and vendors, the information a business analyst provides is essential for successfully completing the project.
Ensuring easy onboarding. When a new team member joins the development process, it is important to make this stage as smooth and quick as possible. A business analyst provides operational support for people to understand how things are expected to work.
The role of a business analyst is especially valuable for outsourced projects where the product owner defines the needs, and an Agile business analyst helps team members understand these needs and provide the best solutions.
Agile Business Analyst and Other Roles
An Agile business analyst cooperates with all people involved in a project. Keep reading to see how a business analyst supports the entire Agile team.
Here are the most common tasks an Agile business analyst is in charge of:
Business Analyst and the Product Owner (or Client)
The BA supports the product owner in making decisions. A business analyst can help ensure that new ideas are aligned with needs and the product goal.
This is how an Agile business analyst helps the product owner:
Makes decisions more easily
Defines user stories and acceptance criteria
Provides communication within the team
Manages product backlog
Finds dependencies in user stories
Works breakdown structure
Reduces gaps in requirements
Checks new requirements
Helps conduct risk analysis
Business Analyst and the Dev Team
An Agile business analyst is often a mediator between the development team and the product owner. A business analyst ensures they are on the same page with the requirements and end goal of the project.
In addition, Agile business analysts help developers:
Find dependencies between user stories and conduct gap analysis
Identify a solution to the problem that will satisfy the client’s needs
Business Analyst and Team Lead
Through proper documentation, research, and business needs identification, a business analyst helps the team lead:
Conduct proper prioritization
Keep backlog up to date
Agile Business Analyst Within a Scrum Team
A business analyst also plays a significant role within a Scrum team, especially for Sprint planning.
Here are the key responsibilities of Agile business analysts within a Scrum team:
Sprint planning. A business analyst takes charge of reviewing the estimate. They also help prioritize stories depending on their business value.
Daily Scrum meetings. An Agile business analyst provides everyday requirements and solutions support to the Scrum team during meetings.
Sprint review. A business analyst is involved in reviewing and summarizing work based on the acceptance criteria.
Sprint retrospective. Also, a BA is involved in identifying and reviewing the issues that occurred during the Sprint.
Reviewing the backlog. A business analyst is in charge of: removing user stories that are no longer relevant, creating new user stories, re-assessing the relative priority of stories, assigning estimates to stories, and correcting estimates in light of newly discovered information.
We’ve reviewed the main tasks and responsibilities of a business analyst, so let’s move on to the tools used for analysis.
The Key Techniques and Tools of a Business Analyst
An Agile business analyst uses various techniques and tools to analyze business needs and ensure everything runs properly during a project.
Most Common Business Analytics Techniques
Here are the most popular business analytics techniques:
Business model analysis
In addition, Agile business analysts often rely on tools to help them manage their tasks more efficiently.
Software Solutions by Geniusee
There are various business analyst solutions that include software systems development.
The business analyst software solutions by Geniusee can increase the average on-time delivery, improve on-budget performance, and deliver more projects with the right functionality for your particular business.
How does the magic happen?
First, the team gathers your requirements and chooses the solution that will suit your team and needs. Then the software is designed, developed, and introduced or discussed before being fully accepted.
With Geniusee you can be sure that your Agile business analyst’s work is successful and efficient so that the whole company can benefit from it.
It’s time to explore the difficulties a business analysis typically faces and ways to eliminate them.
Agile Methodologies Challenges and How a BA Fixes Them
Agile teams often run into numerous challenges during their projects. Here are the most common Agile methodologies challenges and how a BA can easily solve them.
Choosing the right Agile methodology.
The first step in an Agile software development project is choosing the proper methodology. Not all Agile methodologies are suitable for every project.
Thanks to the extensive research an Agile business analyst does, they can easily decide if a methodology is the right match for a project and if the team is technically ready to accept the project.
Handling improper communication.
What makes Agile project management different from the traditional one is the focus on building a collaborative environment. Improper communication can cause a lack of understanding of project requirements.
A business analyst ensures strong communication between team members to keep the project on track.
Assessing external and internal dependency.
Sometimes, multiple teams are involved in an Agile project. And, it is common that teams may have internal or external dependencies.
An Agile BA analyzes dependencies upfront to ensure they don’t affect the delivery timeline. In addition, the BA makes sure communication between all teams remains strong.
Setting Agile values and principles.
During an Agile project, it is necessary to set values and principles upfront. Otherwise, it may become challenging to align with the changes and timeline later on.
An Agile business analyst ensures that values and principles are properly communicated between team members. Also, it is up to the BA to evaluate and communicate any changes during the project to ensure all tasks are carried out properly.
Assessing interdependency between Scrum teams.
Large Agile projects consist of multiple Scrum teams that depend on each other’s work. So, it is essential for teams to be properly coordinated to avoid any gaps in Agile methodology.
A business analyst handles coordinating multiple teams to prevent project failure or scope creep.
Prioritizing the problems.
When multiple teams work together on an Agile project, it is common that a top priority for one team may not be as important to other teams.
An Agile business analyst is in charge of feature prioritization to ensure all teams clearly understand their priorities and those of other teams. By doing so, a BA guarantees all tasks are taken care of appropriately and on time.
An Agile business analyst plays an important role in a team. Let’s look at a case study to understand the difference this role can make.
I joined the company as a BA. The team utilized traditional management methods at that time.
So, I ran into multiple problems:
It was difficult to understand the full scope of work without having proper analysis and destructuring the scope into epics and user stories.
It was challenging to calculate the actual cost of development.
Conducting a value cost analysis for management to make decisions and prioritize features was troubling.
To improve the situation, I implemented the following changes:
Started with learning documentation
Learned how to use the existing platform
Conducted interviews with stakeholders to understand business needs
Prepared work breakdown structure for new features
Carried out gap analysis and identified dependencies
Scheduled kick-off meetings for the development team so that they understand the scope of work and the features
Documented requirements so that expectations can be met
Used PERT (Project Evaluation Review Technique) for estimates
Created wireframes for new ideas to visualize them
Analyzed the market and competitors to see the bigger picture and suggest new features
After completing these tasks, the team members noticed significant improvements in planning, task prioritization, and communication.
Why Does an Agile Team Need a Business Analyst?
The business analyst role in Agile is essential, as this person makes positive changes by understanding the business problems, recommending the solution, and increasing the return on investment for projects.
If you want to include a BA in your team and ensure their work is efficient, try a software solution by Geniusee. From market analysis to backlog management, Geniusee offers a solution for every problem an Agile business analyst may come across.