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In this situation an agile BSA should be just another one of the developers on the team, likely leading requirements and analysis modeling efforts as needed. They would actively work to facilitate communication within the team, mentoring developers in BSA skills and perhaps even mentor project stakeholders in development skills.
This change of focus leaves control in the hands of the customers, and makes all the difference.
A critical skill that an agile BSA brings to the table is the ability to investigate and understand how the business actually works, as opposed to how developers think it works or want it to work, an ability that they should be able to mentor developers in.
When co-located, Agile BSAs would also perform non-BSA activities as well, perhaps pair programming with one of the developers on some of the business code or working with users to develop acceptance tests. This way the agile BSA would grow his or her own skill set over time and would help others to do so as well.
An implication of this approach is that the "traditional BSA" is getting dropped in favor of a developer with very good communication skills. A business analyst BA is a poor substitute for developers who have both ready access to actual stakeholders and agile modeling skills.
Remember, BA is also the abbreviation for band-aid. Furthermore, the project stakeholders are typically not available on a full time basis to the project team.
Common scenarios include stakeholders that can co-locate one or two days a week and be available as needed on other days; stakeholders that can be available for physical and teleconference meetings several times a week; and stakeholders whose availability is severely limited and often can only give you an hour or two a week.
Clearly none of these scenarios are ideal, but unfortunately they are all too common. In particular, in situations where the stakeholders are not able to partially co-locate with the development team the BSA will need to work with them in their own environment.
This will likely entail modeling sessions and interviews with the project stakeholders. The Agile BSA will typically bring one or two other developers with them to these sessions, that way the developers can not only learn the business knowledge that they need they can also gain BSA skills in the process.
This will also help to build bonds between the developers and stakeholders. Large organizations, consortiums of organizations, and organizations that outsource development to other companies often overseas often find themselves in this situation.
I highly suggest that you avoid distributed development situations such as this because of the increased communication risk inherent in this approach. Instead you are forced to rely on less productive communication strategies - such as video conferencing, telephone conversations, and written documentation - and thereby dramatically increase project risk.
Rich communication between developers and project stakeholders is a fundamental aspect of agile software development. In this situation the role of an Agile BSA devolves into something closer to that of a traditional BSA, that of trying to bridge the gulf between developers and project stakeholders.
They would realize that this situation is not in the best interest of the project, that they really want to have the project stakeholders working with the developers and therefore should try to get these people together as often as possible.
BSA as Product Owner?
A business analyst make take on the agile role of " product owner " on a Scrumor better yet a Disciplined Agile Delivery DADproject. There are several aspects about this role which I think are critical to understand: Product owners bridge the communication between the team and their stakeholders.
As Figure 1 shows, in practice there proves to be two critical aspects to this role: Product owners are empowered. The product owner is the single person whom is responsible for prioritizing requirementsas Figure 2 depicts Note: Figure 2 shows just one of several strategies supported by the DAD frameworkand for providing the details explaining the requirements to the team.
Product owners facilitate communication. Product owners need good communication skills, including agile modeling skills.
They also need to know who the stakeholders are, interact with them regularly, and when needed facilitate the interaction which the team has with them. Product owners prefer direct means of communication.Emily Post's Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home.
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4. Towards Agile Analysts. Fundamentally the activities performed by traditional BSAs are varied, but a crucial goal was always to improve the communication between developers and project stakeholders.
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