An ABC of R2: B is for business analysis

…which means different things to different people. In our case it meant extracting requirements and turning them into something that could be implemented.

Business analysis is often misunderstood when it’s used in an Agile context. Agile people often think it’s not necessary — after all, they say, the analysis is best performed by the developers working closely with the customer as they go along. Many non-Agile people often think the analysis should be done up-front, written down, and then the workload on the business analysts (BAs) eases off as everyone else goes off to implement what they’ve written.

In fact business analysis was one of the most demanding jobs on R2. Analysis was indeed done up-front, at the start of the project, but only to a level sufficient to estimate the work, not to a level sufficient to implement it. Ahead of each fortnightly iteration the BAs would specify the forthcoming fortnight’s tasks in much greater detail, sufficient to be implemented. At the same time they would be dealing with queries about the iteration currently in flight. Thus at any one time they had to deal with work being planned and work being implemented.

In both cases they would be working with a very diverse group of people. For work being detailed the business analyst would take requirements from our business users and present them to the technologists for estimation; for work being implemented they would often take queries from the technologists and present them to the business users for guidance.

You could say the process of business analysis was often like being piggy in the middle, yet the personal skills of the individual business analysts (technical insight, strategic understanding, and not a little diplomacy) was key to the success of the project. The cohesiveness of — both from the outside and the inside — is in no small part due to the talents of our business analysts.