What is a Business Analyst?

The Business Analysis Book of Knowledge (BABOK) defines the role of a business analyst as someone who “might perform work for many different types of initiatives across an enterprise…” by using “different competencies, knowledge, skills, terminology, and attitudes” for gathering requirements to identify requirements for accomplishing a business-related initiative. (2)

What is an Agile Business Analyst?

The publisher if the BABOK has also published an additional book called A Guide to the Business Analysis Book of Knowledge which defines the role of a business analyst as someone who uses a flexible agile mindset perspective and practices gathering requirements “with a constant focus on delivering business value” by continuously “inspecting and adapting” to the “Fast-pace and complex” business “environment for the purpose of developing and delivering working software as a competitive advantage. (1)

What is a Scrum Team?

The Scrum Guide describes the Scrum Team as a self-organizing cross-functional who:

  1. “choose how best to accomplish their work, rather than being directed by others outside the team”
  2. “have all competencies needed to accomplish the work without depending on others not part of the team”

The Scrum Team consists of the Product Owner, Development Team (Developers and Quality Analysts), and Scrum Master. Each role is expected to perform their responsibilities to ensure the development and delivery of working software that provides business-level value to the customer. (3) 

How Does the Scrum Team Work?

The Scrum Team uses a Product Backlog that identifies all of the user stories necessary to deliver the value requested by the customer and is defined as:

  1. Clearly expressing the work items as described by the customer to create the needed business value; 
  2. Prioritizing  the work items in an order within the Product Backlog to best deliver working software to achieve the goals and missions expected by the customer ; 
  3. Optimizing the value of the work in the Product Backlog to deliver high-quality work software meet the value expected by the customer; 
  4. Visible, transparent, and clear to all, and shows what the Scrum Team will work on next.

The Product Owner is solely accountable for the Product Backlog; however, the Product Owner may have the team create and maintain the Product Backlog. (3)

How can an Agile Business Analyst Help a Scrum Team?

Although the Scrum Guide does not define a Business Analyst role. This role can be extremely valuable to a Scrum Team. Business Analysts have practiced applying their knowledge to assist with planning and monitoring business initiatives and gathering requirements by collaborating with the customer. At the same time, many business analysts have well-developed and helpful interpersonal skills such as communication, facilitation, coaching, and negotiation. (2)

The Business Analyst can be to the scrum team what the Product Owner is to Business Customer. The Business Analyst needs to collaborate closely with the Product Owner to create a consistent and continuous flow of user stories of appropriately sized work effort with acceptance criteria to be placed into the Product Backlog. The Business Analyst should work closely with the Product Owner to develop a high-level understanding of the project by attending meetings with the Business Customer. With this high-level understanding, the Business Analyst can become a bridge connecting the non-technical requests from the Business Customer with the technical user stories created by the Team for the Product Backlog.

In support of the Product Owner and the Team, the Business Analyst with well-developed interpersonal skills can become an advisor and coach on Scrum processes and practices. In addition, the Business Analyst can also become an advisor and coach on using business-related tools such as data models, flowcharts, workflow diagrams, use cases and other techniques to write user stories for the Product Backlog. And the Business Analyst can also work with the Scrum Master and the Team in Refinement meetings by coaching them on writing and refining user stories that meet the “Definition of Ready” to prevent any work effort gap from developing in the Product Backlog.