This is the mind of an Agile coach – enjoy the reading
An Agile Business Analyst and the Corporate Goal
Competition, to banks and bankers has become so popular that the paradigm has changed from using Information Technology to deliver corporate goals to tying the corporate goal itself to Information Technology deliverable, so that they can remain relevant.
The need to consider the technological requirements is now paramount in the process of decision making. In other words, competition has become part of banking and being able to compete means being able to survive.
The measure of progress in banking today can be directly linked to technological advancements and capabilities, because technology enables banks to respond to market demands in the ever changing competitive environments. While the conversion of requirements to technology is the vehicle that delivers the corporate goal, an Agile Business Analyst is the ‘Driver’ of the vehicle.
A Treasury report on competition in New Zealand banking, used by Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Paul Goldsmith, concludes that the Banking sector appears to be delivering outcomes that are generally consistent with those we would expect in a workably competitive market. This includes profit levels that are not obviously excessive.
The banking sector that is now delivering outcomes that hinge on competition can be traced to (among other factors) the evolving role of an Agile Business Analyst, whose role can be directly linked to the corporate technological advancement, ability to meet market demands and frequently changing government policies. No bank will be competitive without being able to roll out products as quickly as possible, also no bank will be able to compete in the market if its development team is not flexible to changing business requirements that are driven by the Agile Business Analyst . And most importantly, a development team will not be focused to develop and test a product if there is no Agile Business Analyst that elicits the business requirements to both the stakeholders and the development team
Let’s look at how this is possible
For a bank to be competitive it must be able to respond proactively to the market demand and government policies. Being Agile in its approach means the response will be quicker. The ability to respond is ultimately dependant on the optimisation of the evolving role of the Agile Business Analyst who drives the conversion of business requirements into technology.
The Agile Business Analyst must be able to identify and clarify the corporate goal, translate the goal into business requirements, break down the requirements into stories, and help the high performing development team to focus on tasks that will ultimately deliver the shippable products that meets the market demand. This is a sharp shift from the Traditional Business Analyst role, but a huge welcome to the Agile Business Analyst who also needs to catch up with his evolving role.
To do this and to help an Agile development team become high performing the team must be allowed to be self-organising, self-managing and collaborative so they can take ownership. When a development team takes ownership, they become committed and accountable. When the team becomes accountable the responsibility is now on them to deliver their commitments.
A team that is responsible has on its shoulder the successful delivery of a working software that drives its competition engine. But this will not be possible if the Business Analyst is not embracing its evolving roles.
Crucial to achieving the corporate goal and market competitiveness is the role of an Agile Business Analyst. This is crucial because;
- Developers can elicit requirements but an Agile Business Analyst has intimate knowledge of the product
- Stakeholders can model and document their own requirements …. but an Agile Business Analyst makes developing and testing easier.
- An Agile Developer (i.e. any team member) is a generalist …. but an Agile Business Analyst has the specialist skills
Who is a business Analyst
It is quite easy to undermine the role of an Agile Business Analyst. Let us be reminded that;
- She is a Key member of an Agile development team before anything else
- She gathers and analyses the business and stakeholder information
- She enables collaboration within and outside the development team
- She sees that business needs are converted into technology requirements
- She fills a multi-faceted and a highly demanding role
- She shares the model/goal with the development team so that everyone is:
- Asking questions
- Moving towards the goal (sprint and corporate)
Key Attributes required in the evolving Agile Business Analyst Role
To be able to optimise the evolving Agile Business Analyst role there are some key attributes that must be desired. If these attributes are missing in a BA it is highly likely that the BA has inadvertently returned to her traditional role and it might be difficult for the business to be competitive as they will not be able to deliver iterative shippable products into the market.
What the are these attributes?
BRIDGE – She is the bridge between the stories, the requirements definitions and the tasks list.
ROADMAP – She is the custodian of the roadmap that helps to set priority, designs the overall work plan, and calibrates the timing of specific work within the development team.
COMMUNICATION BROKER – She’s the connection within the business community that helps development teams find the right people to work with.
FACILITATOR - On Scrum projects she facilitates the team-product owner discussions.
POLITICAL MENTOR - Aristotle says every man is a political animal – she helps teams through political minefield within their organization.
SCRUM MASTER ROLE - She may act as the Scrum Master and help to facilitate and remove impediments as the development team sprints to achieve the sprint goal.
PRODUCT OWNER – She may sometime end up as a Product Owner that works with chief product owners.
TESTING – She may get her hands dirty by helping with testing and reviewing of test scripts.
BUSINESS CHANGE AGENT – She is the business change agent and may not be popular because of this but change must happen anyway.
COMPASS – she is the compass when the roadmap is set, the Agile Business Analyst keeps the team [managers, developers, Testers, etc] focused on the end-game.
TRANSLATOR - She is a translator that;
- works with the chief product owner to translate the vision into product backlogs
- translates technical issues into what is understandable to the development team and stakeholders.
- explains technical or architectural complexities to project stakeholders and the development team.
I believe strongly that in today’s competitive environment the ultimate would have been achieved when an Enterprise Agile Coach is able to understand the corporate goal, devise a roadmap for it, and gear the entire enterprise and its development team toward actualising the corporate goal in its entirety through motivation, mentoring, and training.
Working with Agile Business Analysts with the aforementioned attributes, and being able to get the development team(s) to fire on all cylinders is an icing on the cake for an Enterprise Agile Coach.
Thanks for reading