There are multiple ways you can look at planning, and each can be applied in one way or another, to each Horizon. Here are a few that have been applied over the years. I’m sure there are others.
First, there’s Iterative Planning. Any discussion about Agile has to mention Iterations as part of it’s 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 constantly 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 simultaneously. Priorities set repeatedly, based on the latest available information.
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.
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 really handle, especially for retail. So often, this is done through 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 the hostile witness, 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. But because they’re dealing with things which your organization may not directly see, they can be a great source of information that can inform some of your initiatives.
Investors are often the self appointed experts. They can be very much for you. Or they can turn against you. Managing their expectations in certain environments can be the difference between success and failure of the initiatives.
Subject Matter Experts – Often your internal sources. These should know the issues better than anyone. It is important 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 – The legal environment is often the motivation for change. And at times this forces an artificial priority. For example, if the IRS comes up with some new regulation concerning one of your company’s business practices, it becomes very important to meet those demands. Your Board does not want the embarrassment of an IRS negative finding.
Agile Analyst Activities
So, looking at a High level, how can you group the functions that an Agile Business Analyst performs?
- 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 what is impacted.
- Helps Decide – Priority of Initiatives, Features, and Development Work Items. Also help decide approaches, and providing information on trade offs from one approach to another.
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