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5 Reasons Your Agile Team Needs A Business Analyst 

By Keren Sharlow, Product Manager, Ad & Agency Solution, Catalina 
 
Earlier in my career, I joined a high-performing Agile Team as their Business Analyst (BA). This team had it all - dedicated Product Owner, dedicated Scrum Master, and an extremely knowledgeable Development and Quality Assurance team. When I sat down with the Product Owner, he asked me, "What value do you think a Business Analyst can bring to our scrum team?"
 
Drawing on my own experience and reading the BABOK® Guide v3, as well as the Agile Extension to the BABOK® Guide, there are multiple benefits to having a BA role on even the most experienced scrum teams.
  
  1. Add Context Around The "Ask": Without a BA on the team, User Stories are often written by one person, left at a high level, and only briefly reviewed prior to beginning development. A BA implements processes where the entire team has input into requirements prior to Sprint Planning, which helps add context around the requirement and ensures there is right level of detail at the right time to satisfy the team’s needs.  
  1. Remove Roadblocks Prior to Sprint Start: Once a ticket has additional context, the BA identifies if the User Story is dependent on another team, project, or process and then ensures that all impacted teams are notified of the dependencies. Cross-team dependencies need to be identified before the Sprint Start so that the correlating work is scheduled in the other team(s)'s sprints at the same time or beforehand. Missing this step can easily derail multiple sprints and cause unnecessary frustration.   
  1. Enable Tickets To Be Sized Correctly: Once the team realizes all the components that need to be implemented to complete a feature, the original story will often be broken down into several smaller units of work that can be completed in one sprint. This allows multiple Development and Quality Assurance resources to work on a feature simultaneously.  It also helps the Product Owner to determine if there are any parts of the feature that could be postponed so that the team stays focused on just the minimal viable product.    
  1. Produce Relevant and Current Requirements: Instead of working multiple weeks or months ahead of the team (as seen in a waterfall environment), Agile BAs finalize user stories just in time to be brought into Sprint. This ensures that the requirements being worked on are the highest priority, it guarantees the requirements do not have time to go stale in the backlog, and it keeps the team focused on the work at hand. 
  1. Reduce Silos of Information: Throughout the process of requirement elicitation, one of the primary responsibilities of the BA is to bring people together and ensure that there is team unity around a unit of work and the effort needed by all team members to accomplish that work. With this enhanced communication and collaboration, silos of information are broken down and the entire team can more easily work together to accomplish the highest priority work at hand. 
Having a Business Analyst role on your scrum team enables additional collaboration and communication, and provides the team with clearly defined requirements just in time for the sprint to start. This benefit allows the team to size the requirements correctly and allows roadblocks and dependencies to be noted and acted upon ahead of time so the sprint isn’t derailed. From your experience, what other ways have you noticed that Business Analysts add value to your Agile teams?


Questions or comments? Please email brand@iiba.org.