I have run a few agile projects with no BA’s on them and been pretty happy with how things turned out. So … does that mean we don’t need a BA on an agile project? Hmmm … I actually think there are sometimes non-agile projects which have a BA roaming around not doing much more than producing documents that the developers ignore. But I would not say we never need a BA – just that sometimes we don’t.
In fact I think it is fair to say that “we always need to do analysis, but sometimes the tester, the developer, the business person or the spare IT graduate can do it. But there are other times I would cancel a project rather than running it with no BA.
So – why have a specialist BA on a project when you developers can do decent analysis?
Some will claim developers can’t do good analysis nor good testing because they “just write code”. This is true of some specialist developers but to be honest I have found that many good developers are actually great testers and great at analysing problems.
So I have to try a little harder to find a reason to have a specialist BA on an agile project and fortunately I just came out of a course with agile BA’s and I asked them (http://softed.com/Courses/The-Agile-Business-Analyst.aspx)
Here are the top 10 roles that a good BA can bring to an agile project – that maybe they can actually do better than the rest of the team – and that definitely add value.
Plus … there aren’t really that many requirements documents to write anymore so BA’s could really do with the work J
But rather than having them just write out your cards for you, document questions for you or manage your “story repository” why not use them to really push the boundaries between delivery code, delivering integrated products and services and even delivering organisational knowledge and learning?
And – why not take the chance to have them share their kitbag of analysis and gathering techniques with the team. I promise you will get better results if you use fishbone and Pareto analysis or if you start doing some anthropology than if you keep just running “Story elaboration workshops” with a single product owner.
OK – you don’t always need all of this. If I had a mobile application that was a stand-alone product then I would lose a BA or two happily to get a really good UX guru … in fact I would cut my testers, developers and even scrum master if I had to. Similarly if I am deep inside a mainframe strangling the legacy code and wrapping it in automated tests then maybe I am in techo land. But often a project really does need some or all of the roles listed above to be truly successful.
And honestly – this is what you will find BA’s capable of doing if you let them allocate time to these adventures.