What an Agile BA must do differently to succeed

This post was originally written for the Agile Australia blog

Stepping into a BA role in an Agile team can be quite confronting when you consider how much Agile downplays and minimizes the BA role. But be assured, you have an important part to play, and it’s actually way more fun to be an Agile BA.

To successfully make the transition into Agility, there are four key things a BA must do differently.

Embrace your role in the cross-functional team

Testing

YOU are the person who best understands the business problem, right? So you’re the best person to know when the problem has been solved. Help the team understand what the 80% business scenarios are for targeted automation testing. Write test conditions to ensure that the team have a shared understanding of the solution.

Documentation

Apply your understanding of users and stakeholders to ensure that documentation is written for appropriate audiences – users have simple workflow information and administrative users have the detail they need.

Conquer the cone of uncertainty

The feedback loop is your friend. The pressure is no longer on to get everything scoped and signed off at the very start with 100% perfect requirements. Start with the big picture, break down chunks, and only delve into the detail for specific areas as the need arises, or you gain further insight into problems.

Inspect and Adapt

One of the great things about Agile is that you’re not expected to build the perfect solution right away. The framework allows you to try the easiest and simplest solutions, understand where and why the solution is inadequate, and what needs to be done next.

Enjoy the ongoing engagement with stakeholders

Because you are delivering solutions in slices, it’s easier to run demos and workshops by iteratively demonstrating progress, and looking for the point when a solution is good enough. This is a great way to build confidence and trust with users and stakeholders, and to collaboratively look for usability data to drive decisions of what to build next.

Agile makes it easier to build the right thing, and achieve maximum customer value whilst minimizing effort. The process of uncovering the right requirements becomes much easier, with less frustration over work that didn’t achieve the desired outcome – and ultimately, far greater satisfaction with a job well done.