5. Initiative Horizon
5.6 Applying the Principles of Agile Business Analysis
Agile Extension to the BABOK® Guide
At the Initiative Horizon, the agile principle of See the Whole is applied when decisions to satisfy needs are made. Continuous feedback from both the Strategy and Delivery Horizon inform all the decisions made around solution options, solution components, prioritizing, sequencing, and the viability of the solution.
Business analysis practitioners See the Whole when analyzing which solution components to deliver next because they continually consider the overall strategic need they are trying to satisfy.
The principle of seeing the whole also guides the determination if a need has been satisfied, even if all the solution components have not been delivered. Business analysis practitioners make this assessment based on the identified strategic need, not the output of solution components delivered.
At the Initiative Horizon, the agile principle of Think as a Customer is applied when the priority and sequencing of solution components are assessed. Business analysis practitioners consider the need from the customer perspective by asking questions such as:
- What would be most valuable to the customer?
- Is there a sequence that would be better for the customer?
- Do I have more than one customer for this solution component?
- Do the answers to any of these questions impact the learning from the other questions?
By thinking as a customer, business analysis practitioners support creating a viable solution with the least amount of output possible.
Thinking as a customer provides a clarity and a greater understanding of the need.
Continuous feedback from customers helps to inform decisions around solution options, solution components, prioritizing, sequencing, and the viability of the solution.
The agile practice of rapid and frequent delivery aligns with the principle of Think as a Customer. By delivering early and often, agile teams quickly obtain real-world feedback from real-world customers of the solution. This learning enhances their understanding of the need and assists with prioritizing and sequencing solution components.
At the Initiative Horizon, the agile principle of Analyze to Determine What is Valuable is applied when business analysis practitioners use the shared understanding of the need to identify solution options and prioritize and sequence solution components.
By keeping the concept of valuable outcomes clearly in mind, business analysis practitioners are able to make faster decisions about what solution components to create.
Understanding what is valuable also helps to identify solution components that do not contribute directly to the desired outcome.
At the Initiative Horizon, the agile principle of Get Real Using Examples is applied when establishing a shared understanding of the need, investigating possible solution options, and deciding on the solution to deliver.
Business analysis practitioners start with examples that represent the most common scenarios that customers face. These examples are expanded and refined as the solution is developed. Examples help to verify and validate that the solution still meets the need.
Get Real Using Examples is also valuable when making decisions around solution options, solution components, prioritizing, sequencing, and the viability of the solution.
At the Initiative Horizon, the agile principle of Understand What is Doable is applied when prioritizing and sequencing solution components. Understanding what is doable ensures that agile teams do not attempt to deliver solution components that are not possible to deliver within existing constraints.
Business analysis practitioners use feedback from the Delivery Horizon to refine their understanding about what is doable. What was initially thought of as doable may end up to be very difficult, or not worth the effort once the Delivery Horizon starts implementing those ideas.
Understanding what is doable increases efficiency and reduces waste by reducing efforts spent on solution options and solution components that will not satisfy the need because they cannot be delivered.
At the Initiative Horizon, the agile principle of Stimulate Collaboration and Continuous Improvement is applied when decisions are made based on information provided by a cross-functional team who collaborates to provide the decision maker with timely information relevant to the decision at hand.
In the Initiative Horizon, there is generally a decision maker who is responsible for each decision. Agile teams share the responsibility to provide that decision maker with the appropriate information to make an informed decision.
The agile principle of Stimulate Collaboration and Continuous Improvement is evident when agile teams:
- collaborate to determine whether enough value has been delivered to satisfy the outcome,
- consider whether a solution should continue, change, or be cancelled, and
- conduct retrospectives to discuss how decisions were made, whether all the necessary information informed those decisions, and how to refine the process of making future decisions.
At the Initiative Horizon, the agile principle of Avoid Waste is applied when business analysis practitioners apply the learning from the agile principle of Understand What is Doable.
Informed decision making is central to the principle of Avoid Waste. When decisions are informed by feedback rather than opinion, they are likely to be more accurate.
Waste is avoided when there is a shared understanding about what outputs will not be delivered because they are not necessary for delivering the desired outcome. Waste is also avoided when initiatives are cancelled when it becomes clear that the solution will not satisfy the need, or when the solution has provided sufficient value to satisfy the need.