Role of Agile Analysis

Planning

There are multiple ways you can look at planning, and each may apply to each Horizon. Here are a few that have been applied over the years. I’m sure there are others.

Types of Planning
Agile Extension to the BABOK®  Guide – pg. 3

First, there’s Iterative Planning. Any discussion about Agile has to mention Iterations as part of its structure. And in planning, it’s no different. On a recurring basis, the Agile Business Analyst reviews, refines, and prioritizes the work based on the latest insights.

Then there’s Adaptive Planning. The very word “Agile” implies change or flexibility. Priorities change. Needs change. So we have to Adapt. Agile will continuously be looking at what is going to deliver the highest value and striving to work on that next.

Then there’s the combination of Both. In this type, Iterative and Adaptive planning are combined. Priorities are repeatedly set, based on the latest available information.

Prioritization

So, How do we know what is the Priority? How do we know what to Adapt? The answer is, “Feedback.”

To get feedback, the Agile Business Analyst forms communication between a lot of different folks within or external to the organization.

Sources of Feedback
Agile Extension to the BABOK®  Guide – pg. 3

Identify the customer. Most often, of course, this is the primary individual or group who needs to be consulted. They may be internal – associated with some support process within the organization. Or External, classically represented in retail as the buyer of a product. It may be a group too broad to handle, especially for retail. This is often performed by a lead person or a group that serves as the voice of the customer.

The Analyst may observe or get information from sources, some of which might not be included in the organization chart, such as Competitors. These may be hostile witnesses, as they don’t want to give up a competitive advantage. But there are ways to know what a competitor is doing. In retail, all you have to do is walk into their store. Or maybe read their Advertisements. 

Partners are groups that, for one reason or another, are on your side. Because they deal with things that your organization may not directly see, they can be a great source of information that can inform some of your initiatives.

Investors are often self-appointed experts. They can be for you, or they can turn against you. Managing their expectations in specific environments can be the difference between the success and failure of the initiatives.

Subject Matter Experts are your internal sources. These should know the issues better than anyone. It is essential to see them embracing the changes, as often they are the customer. Other times, they are responsible for some of the technical requirements necessary for success.

Regulators, or the legal environment, is often the motivation for change. They may force an artificial priority. For example, if the IRS comes up with some new regulations concerning one of your company’s business practices, it becomes crucial to meet those demands. Your Board does not want the embarrassment of an IRS adverse finding.

Agile Analyst Activities

So, looking at a High level, how can you group the functions that an Agile Business Analyst performs?

Activities Enabled by Agile Business Analysis
Agile Extension to the BABOK®  Guide – pg. 4
  • Linking of Strategy to Initiatives to Resources
  • Elicitation – discovering, communicating (two-way), and interpreting the findings.
  • Clarifying – ensuring that the understanding of the Analyst is correct. Communicating who this is for, who this is by, and determining impact.
  • Helps Decide – priority of initiatives, features, and development work Items. Also, help decide approaches and providing information on trade-offs from one path to another.

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