What is Agile Analysis?

Agile Business Analysis begins with a basic concept of the simple feedback loop shown here. No matter what flavor of Agile you are using, everything you do in Agile can be boiled down to an application of this feedback loop.

Inspecting and Adapting

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

In Agile, you are either inspecting or adapting. Either you are gathering information based on data, interviews, research, or other sources, or you are taking the information and determining what to do about it. This simple feedback loop is applied to all levels of planning in the organization.

Planning Horizons

When we talk about levels of planning – that is what the Agile Extension® calls a Horizon. IIBA breaks it down into 3 Horizons

Three Planning Horizons
Agile Extension to the BABOK®  Guide – pg. 3
  • Strategy – Looking long-range to determine opportunities and risks and come up with potential needs or opportunities.
  • Initiative – Reviewing the opportunities and needs identified by Strategy, and determining a broad approach to meet that challenge
  • Delivery – Actually performing the work defined in the Initiative horizon.

Commonalities

Each Agile framework has certain things in common.

Commonalities of All Agile Frameworks

There is a heavy emphasis on incremental delivery.  In this case, I don’t just mean the final product from the Delivery Horizon, but incremental delivery of whatever outputs are appropriate for each of the horizons.  Whether that is potential initiatives at the Strategy Horizon, Product Plans for the Initiative Horizon, or Working Software at the Delivery Horizon, all of them are delivering something.  And they do this in recurring periods – at a cadence.

All Agile approaches prioritize effort based on value. They may disagree on who and how value is determined, but whatever the value proposition is, that is the basis for prioritized work. For example, a manufacturer might view value as Quality Control. Another might see it as Time to Delivery. A third might view it as Revenue. And there can be a debate on which of those is right. But whatever comes out must be meeting an agreed-upon priority.

All employ an iterative approach. So what is produced in each iteration?  The answer is just a little more than you had the previous iteration.  All flavors of Agile deal with Small Slices of the solution.  And they all have the idea that at the end of each iteration, that work is ready to go.

All agile frameworks promote rapid delivery. In Agile, there’s no more of this waiting until the entire thing is finished and testing it then, finding errors at the end, and having to rebuild large sections. You build a small chunk, check it, and roll it out. And it works when it is built.

It has been tested and approved, which allows rapid feedback.  If it isn’t accepted, you find out almost immediately, before building more on top of something that doesn’t work.

And again, adapting to change.  This goes back to iterative and adaptive planning.  All flavors of Agile have some form of this built into them.

Agile Analysis understands the value of feedback because of its effect on several important aspects of work.

  • Feedback guides the discussion of value. There are many ways that value can be determined. The first thing we need to know as an Agile Analyst is what determines value in the context of your work, company, and customers.
  • Feedback guides Prioritization.  I include this as a separate item because the value equation may change over time. The only way the Analyst will know is from feedback about the change.
  • Feedback informs about Opportunities. But even then, having the information is one thing. Knowing what to do with it is something else.
  • Change is revealed through feedback. It’s important to understand that the change might be because of data. Often when we think of feedback, we are meaning Human Interactions. But often, it’s not people that tell us of the need for change; it is data or other information.
  • Feedback minimizes Uncertainty and Waste.  If we build a means to monitor and tie results to possible responses into all of our business processes, including our development cycles, our time to perform corrections will be lessened.

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