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As more and more businesses adopt Scrum to handle Agile projects, the need to minutely analyse the business needs has taken preference. This is why Business Analysts in Agile Scrum have entered the game. Business Analysts in an Agile Scrum Team ensure that the product meets Stakeholders’ needs and that the development team works efficiently to deliver high-quality features.
However, many organisations still rely on either the Scrum Master, the Scrum Teams, or the Product Owners to give insights on essential business requirements. Therefore, they are trapped in the vicious cycle of collecting requirements and setting business goals.
But it’s time to break out of that cycle. Read this blog to understand the Role of a Business Analyst in Agile Scrum. Also, learn how they can be helpful in improving product delivery using the Scrum Framework.
Table of Contents
1) How is Agile Business Analyst important to Scrum?
2) What is the role of a Business Analyst in Agile Scrum?
a) As a member of the Scrum Team
b) As a Product Owner
c) As a communication agent
3) Are Agile Business Analysts Proxy Product Owners?
How is Agile Business Analyst important to Scrum?
Scrum Teams are often expected to fulfil the Stakeholder’s requirements instantly during Sprints. But there are times when requirements do not align with the current business needs, and the team has to work inevitably. But this results in poor customer satisfaction and degradation of business value.
So, the question arises, can’t the Scrum Teams just ask the business Stakeholders to change the requirements? The answer is no. So, whom should the developers seek? How should they integrate the varied Stakeholders’ requirements to create value for the business?
This is why Agile Business Analysts become crucial for Scrum Team. They ensure that the needs of both the business and customers are met. Their involvement in planning and backlog grooming activities is essential to achieve this goal. Therefore, they become the primary point of contact for both Scrum Teams and Stakeholders to direct their issues and needs.
What is the role of a Business Analyst in Agile Scrum?
You just read that Agile Business Analyst is an integral and important part of the Scrum Team. But what makes them important to Scrum? What important roles do they play during the project lifecycle? What are their responsibilities in Scrum? Let’s have a look at the roles of an Agile Business Analyst in Scrum:
As a member of the Scrum Team
Business Analysts working in an Agile environment deal with the product features and prioritise user stories. They also have knowledge of the technical aspects of the product development. This gives them an upper hand to understand and analyse the product in a better way. Therefore, they act as a part of the Scrum Team, assisting the Developers in understanding the features in detail and acceptance criteria and exploring new ideas to create the Product Increment.
They also work closely with the Quality Assurance (QA) Team to facilitate thorough testing of the analysis and coverage. They examine if all use cases are appropriately addressed and bring forth the hidden requirements and dependencies that otherwise would have been overlooked. As a result, they help ensure that high-quality products are developed that align with the end goal of the project.
As a Product Owner
Product Owner and Agile Business Analyst are two separate roles in Agile Project Management with values and responsibilities of their own. However, in many business environments, Agile Business Analysts also play the role of Product Owners.
As a Product Owner, they usually take care of the product on behalf of the Stakeholders and customers. They are responsible for the following:
1) Making timely decisions during product development
2) Acquiring skills to understand the product requirements
3) Developing technical knowledge about the product being developed
4) Prioritising the features of the product
5) Being in the vicinity of the Development Team to make them understand the product and its requirements
6) Mediating between Stakeholders and the team when they raise queries related to the product
As a communication agent
In Agile, Scrum Teams and Stakeholders largely depend upon the Agile Business Analyst to facilitate, mediate and encourage communication. Not only as members of the Scrum Team but as Product owners, they also have a crucial role in enabling communication. Let’s have a look at how they do that:
Since an Agile Business Analyst is integral to the Scrum Team, members are free to approach the Agile BA if they face difficulties during the development cycle. The team can also discuss and seek clarifications about the technical aspects of the product while also getting insights into what is expected from them.
Further, the Agile BA develops wireframe documents and flow documents to deliver detailed product requirements. Additionally, Agile BA has become a point of contact for multiple Scrum Teams. They explain to the team about the interoperability of modules and how new features affect them.
While acting as a Product Owner, Agile BA is more of a mediator between the Scrum Team and Stakeholders. They first understand the requirements of the Stakeholders. Then, translate the information derived from those requirements into User Stories, and prepare a document of priorities for the Scrum Team to plan their work accordingly.
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Are Agile Business Analysts Proxy Product Owners?
As you have read above, Agile BAs act as Product Owners in many business scenarios during the product development phase to take care of the product. This act of being a Product Owner misleads many organisations as they neglect the Product Owner’s role and importance in the project lifecycle entirely.
As a result, the Agile Business Analyst neither becomes an Agile BA nor a Product Owner, hanging between two roles. Thus, they are often called Proxy Product Owners— an intermediary between the real decision maker, i.e., Stakeholders or Product Owners and the Development Teams.
It often occurs when the decision-makers want to levy some of their responsibilities but cannot find a suitable candidate to rely on. Therefore, Agile Business Analysts have to be involved in marketing or product/Project Management duties.
While an Agile BA might have the skills, expertise and knowledge to make decisions as a Product Owner, the ultimate decision still lies in the hands of the original Product Owner. This results in a longer decision-making process and gives rise to miscommunication. So, what can be the solution to this problem?
Although Agile BA has dynamic roles and responsibilities and adjusts to the changing business environment, it would be better if they work collaboratively rather than in place of each other. Rather than considering an Agile Business Analyst as a Proxy Product Owner, organisations need to understand the individuality and value of both roles.
Agile BA identifies business requirements and outlines user stories, while the Product Owner understands the product’s features and maximises product value. Understanding this distinction would help not only Product Owners Agile BAs, Stakeholders and Development Teams but the project as a whole to progress without any misunderstandings. Therefore, the organisation completes each project successfully, adding to customer satisfaction and business value
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A Business Analyst in Agile Scrum plays a crucial role in bringing best out of the product developed and enhance business value. They not only act as a part of the Scrum Team, but also takes the role of Product Owner when required. Moreover, they are crucial in facilitating and promoting communication during the entire project lifecycle to avoid misunderstanding and ensure that everyone is clear regarding the objectives of the project.
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