The Business Analyst: How To Be More Than a Proxy

As a business analyst on an agile team, do you spend your time gathering decisions from Product Owners (or stakeholders) and passing them on to development teams? Are you tired of simply being a “proxy without power?” What can you do to boost your impact and become invaluable to your team?

In this workshop, Diane Zajac-Woodie demonstrates how any team can benefit from the communication and facilitation skills of an experienced BA. Through some experiential exercises, you will learn what impact collaboration has on results and why requirements are just as important as ever. Diane also teaches you how to document requirements so people will actually read them. Using Acceptance Test Driven Development (ATDD), you will practice writing requirements that describe the exact behaviors that you expect in a format that everyone understands.

Be inspired to embrace your role in an agile environment and leave with new techniques that encourage more cohesive teams and ultimately lead to higher quality software.

 
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Outline/structure of the Session

Outline for Workshop

Intro & Agenda    

Self-reflection Exercise

-WHAT STAYS THE SAME-

Still Need Requirements                              

Software cannot be built (not well anyways) without some specifics about what is desired in the end product. The first part of the exercise shows what happens when you are asked to build something without any details. The second part shows that instructions or “requirements” are crucial. The third part shows how getting help from a skilled communicator (aka BA) makes all the difference in building things right.

Origami Exercise Part 1                       

Origami Exercise Part 2                     

Origami Exercise Part 3                

Exercise wrap up                           

The business has a need: “We want our customers to be able to pay their bills online.” It’s a good BA that asks all the detailed questions about which customers, which bills, what browsers, etc. They provide our IT teams with the insight needed to actually build something meaningful. This includes the oft forgotten non-functional requirements. (Did anyone consider any performance requirements for your origami?) BAs can do this most effectively when they are collaborating throughout development and can provide frequent feedback & course correction.

-WHAT CHANGES-                              

Documentation Becomes Less Formal

Just because you’re agile doesn’t mean you don’t write anything down. Discuss some traditional deliverables and what they’ve been replaced with in an agile environment.

Use of Story Maps

Many people think agile methods lack thorough planning. A Story Map, or Feature Mapping, is one tool that debunks that myth. It provides a visual depiction of the features of an application, both existing and planned. Other benefits include focusing on the customer’s experience, release planning and easily collaborating with multiple stakeholders to build them.

When = Just In Time

We cringe when the business changes their mind because we’ve spent a lot of time perfecting detailed requirements documents. But trying to plan every detail ahead of time doesn’t work. We need to accept that requirements will change and embrace practices that allow us to elaborate them as we go.

Writing Requirements as Executable Tests

One of the agile principles is to maximize the amount of work not done. That means that requirement documents that no one reads are a thing of the past. Using Acceptance Test Driven Development (ATDD) allows us to describe the exact behaviors that we expect in a format that everyone understands. These gherkin tests are written by BAs, collaborating with QA or devs, and the diverse perspectives are invaluable in creating a thorough regression suite. Attendees write their own test scenarios in this exercise, based on the Story Map they created earlier.

Executable Requirements Exercise                    

Exercise Wrap Up

 

-WHAT SKILLS ARE EVEN MORE VALUABLE-

Review What BA Skills Are Even More Valuable in Agile

In most organizations, agile is introduced by IT and the business side knows little about it. A good BA brings the facilitation skills that are needed to educate the business and enhance collaboration. This facilitation is also needed at the team level to make sure all the different roles and personalities are being heard and understanding is achieved. A skilled BA is naturally curious and asks many questions. These questions serve to change the mindset a little bit at a time and to encourage the team to find the best solutions to their challenges. The most important BA skill is communication. It is woven into everything that we do.

- Workshop Wrap Up -

Q & A 

Learning Outcome

  • Experience the positive impact that collaboration has on results
  • Learn that having a skilled facilitator enhances the execution of requirements
  • Understand some of the shifts that take place for a BA when transitioning to a more agile environment
  • Write requirements in a format that encourages collaboration

Target Audience

Business Analysts, Product Owners, Project Managers

schedule Submitted 2 years ago

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