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Understand The Background Of Agile Business Analysis - BA In Agile, Role & Responsibility

Introduction

Business Analysts and their analysis have come up to a long journey with various project management framework. The time when waterfall models were in use, it was the business analyst who used to finalize the requirement by talking to customers and subject matter experts. But then with the evolution of Agile in the industry, the role of business analysts has been in some confusion and see variations in the form of Product Owners and Product Managers. But still, business analysis in agile is very crucial, as its the BA who can define that all the dynamic and iterative changes that are happening are feasible or not. 

Aspects of business analysis in Agile

  • Its Significance in the life of Business Analyst
  • A holistic overview towards it
  • Agile Manifesto and Philosophy
  • Gaining Knowledge of this Methodology 
  • Agile Software Development Life Cycle
  • Various Frameworks, Key People Involved, And Activities performed. 

Importance of Agile for Business Analyst

The twelve principles on which Agile works are directly or indirectly associated with Agile. Business Analysis visualizes agile and its development from the eye of a business and organization’s business processes. 

For any solution which is being built as part of a software development task, its the business analyst who derive real business value, and its ROI from any product feature.

Any team in agile always focuses on the priority items which are being finalized by Product Owners from the backlog. The team must be well aware that which items would bring value to the organization and the roadmap should be aligned accordingly.

But what do you think?

Does that alone happen by the prioritization done by Product Owners and a check on technical feasibility done by the development team?

The answer is “NO”. It's the business analyst who plays a key role in this agile environment by assessing the value of those items to the business. 

How about seeing the prime task which analyst facilitates and has to be part of these revolving around people - 

  • A straight and continuous interconnection is expected to be maintained between the BA and the team involved. This maintains a sense of that everything is being tracked. 
  • Communication should always be in person, as it assists to dissolve many communication gaps. With diverse geographical work, teams are also dependent on multiple video conference methods.
  • Regular check to manage the behavior of the entire team.

An Overview of Agile Software Development

This famous and widely accepted fundamental has numerous ways to develop a product, with a co-operative and joined effort to bring out solutions for any customer or business needs. It can be said as a combination of a set of frameworks and proven good practice implied from agile principles. 

You know what is the key element that separates agile from all any other or primitive development process?

It focuses on everyone in the organization working collaboratively towards a common business goal. This aspect of Agile is the main goal of the agile community. 

So majorly, it focuses on three factors - 

  • Team which can manage and handle them on its own
  • Maintaining a culture of sharing knowledge among other business units as well. 
  • Always being aligned with the needs of end users. 

Agile software development technique has written many success stories with the organizations because of the following strong reasons behind it - 

Read: Why Finance Domains For Business Analysts Had Been So Popular Till Now?
  • Adaptive Planning 
  • Progressive Development
  • Early Delivery 
  • Open and flexible to Change
  • Iterative Mechanism
  • Believe in small victories

The diagram below gives a better picture of above explanation - 

Agile software development technique

Agile Manifesto - In the world of development

The agile manifesto behind which the entire agile framework works is a decree that communicates four values and twelve principles, that are believed to be followed for successful product development. 

The document which has all these details is known as “Manifesto for Agile Software Development”, which was announced in 2001, by a group of 17 developers. 

Agile Manifesto evolved as a result of enormous delay in the business requirements and teams trying an effort to meet all of them. This problem mostly used to occur in waterfall methodology where changes were not so easy to be incorporated. 

The values in the Agile Manifesto are - 

values in the Agile Manifesto

Now lets’ see the 12 principles behind it - 

  • Customer satisfaction can be achieved through early and continuous delivery.
  • Ready to incorporate change in requirements be it any phase of the development. 
  • Frequent deliverables of a working product. 
  • Business Analyst, All the business stakeholders, and development work together on a daily basis.
  • Always build projects around motivated people. 
  • Communication happens via face-to-face conversation.
  • The progress is always measured out of a working feature.
  • There should be a constant pace in the delivery.
  • While fulfilling the needs of the business, technical excellence should not be compromised.
  • The work not done should be presented in a simple format. 
  • Agile successfully works when there is a self-organized team.
  • Regular retrospective and checking on the team’s behavior.  

What do you understand by Agile Methodology?

So now after so much discussion about Agile, let’s perceive its methodology. So in simple words, agile methodology is a practice of continuous development and testing for software development. It is said to be an iterative approach to the development model. Currently, every organization is following agile for their software development, some of them customize it as per organization culture and structure.

Agile looks forward to an incremental and iterative approach, unlike the waterfall method. Agile accepts the change frequently and that’s why agile always believes in smaller deliveries. If I frame it more technically, agile proposes to have a minimum shippable product. And, that’s the sole reason why development and testing happen in a concurrent manner in agile. 

The best part about agile is that customers/clients or internal business stakeholders have an early look at what is being developed. This gives them a sense of transparency and they make decisions to change at a much earlier stage. That’s why agile delivery is always planned in phases to accept and implement the changes coming in between. 

Agile has proved quite successful for smaller projects, however, for larger projects it becomes difficult to estimate the timeline. That’s the reason any large project which needs to follow agile, is broken down in multiple phases and they are being aligned in the roadmaps.

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What do you understand about the Agile Software Development Lifecycle?

With the above context in the picture, we already have a fairly good view of agile. The lifecycle of agile is divided into multiple stages - 

  • Finalize the scope of the project
  • Add the requirements in form of user stories, wireframes, and design
  • Perform development and testing
  • After multiple iterations and sign-off, release it in production
  • Maintaining and Ongoing Support for Production Release
  • Retirement

Agile Software Development Lifecycle


All these now make me think about what are the frameworks over which agile functions in the organizations. Mostly there are three frameworks of Agile - 

  • Xtreme Programming 
  • Kanban
  • Scrum

Xtreme programming also focuses on the end result, but what makes it different is the excellent quality code and technical infrastructure that is being set up for software development. The development actually goes beyond their capability to perform extreme programming. 

Kanban is mostly associated with process improvements in the agile methodology. It is a very lean method and there are tasks assigned to a team on a daily basis. For companies who release everyday or work directly on the client end, prefers Kanban framework. 

Scrum is the framework which is used to solve complex problems and make a smooth delivery for any big feature and business needs. It takes its concepts from the rugby team which focuses on the big game while making teams to work together and achieve a common goal. 

The three important roles of any Scrum includes - 

Scrum Master - The scrum master acts as a facilitator as well as the leader for the scrum team. He/She manages the development team, maintains the scrum board and performs all scrum ceremonies. The interactions from any other team needs to pass through the eyes of the scrum master. 

Development Team - Coders, programmers who drive the requirement from a technical look and delivers a promising feature keeping all its technical feasibility intact formulates this team. 

Product Owners - They are the ones who proudly own the product, and states the expectation which needs to be put up to present a strong feature that adds up to commercial value. One of the authoritative and powerful stakeholders with a vision of forming a strong product to hold a grip in the market. 

Any Scrum has some driving elements which raise its value more than framework - 

Sprint Planning - A regular discussion planned prior to the start of newsprint with the analyst, owners and technical team in place. The discussion happens with the basis of aiming items that can be provided during the next sprint. A check is done on the backlog and accordingly, items are being picked and moved for the current week/month to be progressed. 

Read: How to Become a Successful Business Analyst in 2020 with No Experience

Daily Scrum - Well industry practices different terminologies for this, but it's basically a status call but happens on an everyday basis unlined waterfall.  Everyone set forth the task with which they would be occupied for the present day. 

Sprint Review - A discussion hosted at the end of running sprint and evaluation happens over the course of work done. This scrum event is organized to make sure the changes that got achieved as part of the current sprint.

Sprint Retrospective - This scrum activity takes place afterward once the review of the sprint has been concluded. The talks between everyone is about 

  • The success which team achieved for this sprint. 
  • The places we need to keep an eye upon and improve continuously. Also, the human errors that happened and actions to be taken not to repeat them. 
  • The changes to be inherited for the improvement process.

Sprint Burndown Charts - A comparison is done between the tasks assigned and the time left to fulfill it, which is then shown in a graphical format and that forms this chart. At the end of each sprint, it gives a detailed report how well the team performed based on their estimation they made for each development task. 

Product Backlog Grooming - This aspect refers to the main job role for which Product Owners are being aligned, and sometimes even the technical people impart their skills to analyze each and every task mentioned in the product backlog. Once all these activities are finalized they happily sit under backlog for Sprint. 

Preparation of User Stories - The larger requirements are broken down in granular ones by Product Owners and added as part of User Stories. This helps to describe the requirements much more precisely.

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Conclusion

Agile can be said to be a very dynamic way to look at the development of any software. It has gained so much popularity because of its iterative approach that it has built up many success stories. Apart from the technology industry, we have other industries where organizations are implementing agile for their business growth. 

I hope you had a great time learning basic concepts of agile and its importance in the life of business analysts. Happy Learning Learners !!




    Nidhi

    I believe in knowledge sharing and bringing change in people's lives. As a business analyst by profession, I love to explore everything about the way businesses should drive. I keep in touch with the latest business analysis updates.


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