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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Business Analyst in Agile Software Development Part 1

I am getting a lot of questions and concerns from business analysts about how business analysts fit into the agile world that appears to be taking over software development, and just about every other thing.  My local grocery store has a sign that says “agile grocery shopping”. I’m not sure exactly what that means. I’ve been afraid to go in and try it.
Because of the interest and uncertainty, I thought I’d do a few blogs on agile and the business analyst, looking at the issue from a variety of different perspectives, both good and bad.
Here is the bottom line according to the agile zealots:  there is no business analyst in agile.  Wow!  Is that harsh! 
I have had many long conversations over the years with agile adherents such as Ron Jeffries, Scott Ambler, and Steve Gordon among others about the subject of business analysts in agile software development and the message was always clear: there is no need of business analysts in agile software development. Why? Because the theory is that the developers will talk directly to the customer, in the form of a product owner or a customer on-site, and need no intermediaries.  To the ardent agilists, a business analyst is just an impediment who offers no value to the transaction. Why would a developer need someone to translate what the business is saying when the developer can talk directly to the business person and not run the risk of miscommunication?
This is not really meant to be a pejorative condemnation of business analysts by these stalwart gurus, although many developers do not have a positive view of the role of business analyst which I will address in my next blog. 
The issue is what does a business analyst do when faced with the situation of the developers and others suggesting that their value to the software development effort is negligible and their services as business analyst are no longer needed?  I have four possible solutions and a bit of positive news in the forthcoming blogs.

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