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  • Writer's picturePaul Gravina

Agile Business Analysis and Agile Project Managers

Some of the differences I have experienced between Business Analysis and Project Management. As you can see (below) when you are using one of the agile frameworks there are things that the ScrumMaster will do that in traditional frameworks (waterfall, RUP) the business analyst does, like define issues to product owners, maintain product owner contacts and develop plans to implement solutions just to name a few examples.

It is very important early on in whatever framework you have decided to use for the development of the application that the Agile Business Analysis is distinguished from Project Management. I found that this is best to do early and I mean as EARLY as possible in the SDLC lifecycle. Agile Business analysts provide investigative insights to business needs and Project Managers provide ongoing resource management of a project. If you are using an agile framework you will be working as a small team with the product owner more closely aligned than legacy frameworks. Your business analyst in an agile framework MUST be the advocate for the customer which many times is overlooked in all types of IT frameworks. By having the BA reporting to the product owner and not reporting to the ScrumMaster or the technical team he can recommend changes that directly impact the project for improvement to the business. BAs can bring a perspective and an “outside the box” (dev team) approach that will benefit the product owner/business/stakeholders so they can translate the business needs to the development team. Sometimes as we all know developers develop, and sometimes they forget the original needs of the business and focus on the technical aspects of the application being delivered. That is why agile frameworks were created so the team can work as one using cross-functional teams, test-driven development, and pair programming. Agile Business analysts can define their role and responsibilities on the team if they ask themselves three questions: • What is my role in this project? •What is my level of responsibility? • What will be the reporting relationships PM/ScrumMaster/Product owner/Business/Stakeholders? Do these roles Business Analysis, Project Management have anything in common? Business Analysis and Project Management have skills and knowledge areas that, when used together, can produce quality products or services. I have found in my career that one employee is often asked to play both roles. If you have implemented an agile framework both job functions can fall on the ScrumMaster because organizations believe once they have implemented an agile framework that there is not a need for a business analyst. They believe that since agile uses smaller teams that are filled with developers, QA, and technical skill sets that the product owner will only be needed. Companies say that the product owner in an agile framework is the direct conduit to the business, this might work sometimes but I still think you need a business analyst full-time on the team to negotiate sometimes politically with the owner/business/stakeholders and not with the development team. His job is to constantly convey the reason this project was kicked off in the first place and what is supposed to accomplish for the business enterprise. The two roles have two major things in common: • They both want the project to be successful. • They both understand the goal to meet the organization's goals.

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