6 Tips to Become a Great Agile Business Analyst

Becoming a business analyst in an agile environment is different to a traditional business analyst. An agile business analyst works in a different kind of team with different kinds of roles. Learn how to become a great agile business analyst with the tips in this article.

1. Know The Process

The agile process is different from the traditional or waterfall process for developing software. It’s not just slightly different. There are parts that are completely different.

Depending on which kind of agile you are implementing, the process may vary. However, there’s usually a list of work items known as “stories” which are scoped, analysed, developed, and tested independently of each other. There is a team that works closely with each other – business analysts work with developers and testers. Business representatives are more involved. An iteration manager is used in place of a project manager.

To become a great agile business analyst, it’s good to know what the process is so you can be more effective at your role within the team and the project.

2. Get Used To Smaller Increments

In traditional projects, the analysis phase is where the business analyst does most of their work. They gather requirements, put them into a document and get them approved by the team. This is done early on in the project, and this document is used as the basis for design and development.

In agile developed projects, the requirements are done differently. There are smaller increments, which means requirements are gathered for smaller features and the work is done faster. Business analysts in agile projects are involved throughout the project. Sure, they still gather requirements for the rest of the team, but it’s done in smaller increments.

This is something that you should get used to if you’re learning about becoming an agile business analyst. Working in smaller increments is a big part of the agile process, and it can take some time to adjust to, especially if you’ve been doing traditional business analysis for some time.

3. Keep Your Cards Up To Date

Agile projects use things known as “cards”, which is a representation of a feature or a requirement to be developed. Depending on the size of the project and the complexity, there may be a lot of cards. Project teams run better when this information is kept up to date.

Just like you would keep a normal requirements document up to date as you gather information, the agile cards should be kept up to date. In some ways, this is harder, because there are more cards and therefore more things to keep updated. However, it’s important to the team that this is done.

It helps you remember what you’ve discovered and recorded. It also helps the developers when they are working on the cards. It helps the iteration manager and other managers to get an overview of the project and what is involved.

Updating the cards mainly involve adding in the requirements and clarifications that you get from the people you talk to, but it can also include any status updates or progression through the agile development process.

4. Communicate With The Team

Working within a team is a big part of the agile process. As with any kind of project work, it’s important to communicate to other team members. In agile projects, the agile business analyst should be communicating with the developers and business users.

This is mainly to keep the others up to date. It is also a good idea to keep your manager informed, both your team or area manager as well as the project/iteration manager. This will help them with their planning and running the project.

You can improve your team communication by:

  • Ask questions about areas you’re not sure of within the team.
  • Letting key people know about progress milestones about some items
  • Let the iteration manager know if you’re having trouble with a certain task.

5. Write Things Down

Just because it’s an agile project, it doesn’t mean you should abandon all documentation.

As an agile business analyst, you still need to gather requirements and write them down somewhere. It’s not a good idea to keep them all in your head or just in emails. This is what the cards are for.

Sure, you can use whatever note-taking process you like (such as Evernote), and whatever works for you. The agile cards, as mentioned above, should include the information you gather from other people.

Depending on your project, and whether you’re using an electronic tool (such as Mingle or Jira) or physical cards, your process of writing things down may be different. It’s still a good idea to keep them recorded though.

6. Speak To Another Agile Business Analyst

If you have any other questions about your role as an agile business analyst, you can always speak to those who are more experienced than you. These people can be of great assistance to you if you’re having trouble with something. Agile is fast becoming the preferred development process in many organisations, so there may not be many people in the organisation that have more experience, but there should be business analysts with some experience.

If not, you could always find others by getting online and searching for them – the Internet should give you access to many more agile business analysts!

Well, there’s a few of my tips on how to become an agile business analyst. Hopefully they help you in your role on the project.