The evolution of the Business Analyst: Are you prepared?

Helen LawJumar’s Helen Law looks at the future of the role of Business Analyst, and how Agile methods are re-shaping the traditional definition of a BA.

The onward march of Agile methodologies through the majority of IT-related business is inevitable. But it seems one job role in particular is experiencing a greater need for evolution than others. Business Analysts are seeing their day-to-day remit slowly changing, both due to natural evolution and specifically by elements directly linked to the world of Agile. In this blog, we’ll look at the reason for this, as well as analysing the scale of the problem. As for the solution, we have our opinion, but would love to hear your thoughts.

Jumar has been “doing Agile” properly for many years – both in our software development division, where we prefer to adopt agile working when appropriate, and in our IT and Business Change recruitment division where we have seen organisations increasingly adopting (or claiming to adopt) Agile techniques.

So, what’s the deal?

In Agile environments, the relationship between the Business Analyst and Project Owner is key, but we are now starting to see a convergence of these two roles, with increasing crossover between them. That crossover, however, seems to benefit the Project Owner to the detriment of the Business Analyst, with more of the BA’s role being lost to their project owning counterpart.

Consider each individually;

BA1

The above is a traditional description of how the two roles operate.

However, in an Agile environment, the role of Business Analyst is not as clearly defined, and we are beginning to see the liaison between stakeholders, being absorbed more and more into the Project Owner’s role.

It is still a vital part of the Business Analyst’s remit, but it is starting to leave a gap in what is required of a BA.

This erosion is a symptom of the Agile environment, but it doesn’t end there.  Gradual, ‘evolutionary’ changes are seeing more and more of a Business Analyst’s stakeholder management activity being absorbed by technical roles such as architects:

BA2

This begs the question: if the Project Owner and Architect are liaising more with the business and the end users, what now is the specialist focus for the Business Analyst?

Reassuringly, we don’t predict Business Analysts becoming a redundant part of the process. The role is simply evolving, and becoming increasingly Project Management based. Business Analysts will be required to take on more responsibility for the ‘end profitability’ for the project, and to adopt a more specialist remit to help manage the user stories, backlogs and iterations. But this in undeniably having an effect on the BA, who finds themself in the middle of this shift of responsibility.

Get involved

This is where we’d like to hear your views. How crucial do you think the position of Business Analyst will be within Agile projects? Particularly over the last twelve months, we’ve identified that candidates who are most successful in Business Analyst roles, are those who have broadened their horizons to take on areas including risk management, scheduling and planning. Do you think that this level of up-skilling could be the key to keeping your Business Analysis career on track?

Is it the case that as Agile continues to become more prevalent, Business Analysts who don’t embrace the concept, risk getting left behind? Do you agree – or is this an alarmist stance? If you’re a Business Analyst, have you found yourself having to bolster your Agile credentials? Have you found it necessary to read up on scrums, sprints and backlogs – as well as learning the terminology and language?

While there is no simple answer to this, it is obvious that there is an ongoing change to the role of BA. Do let us know how you think it will pan out.

Agile resources

In addition, Jumar has produced two brief YouTube videos, focusing on companies who claim to “do Agile” but who, actually, don’t. This will make interesting viewing to all those involved in Agile projects. Especially, as we’ve seen in this blog, even if an employer only adopts some of the concepts of agile, the impact on certain roles – especially the Business Analyst – could be significant.

Are you really being Agile – YouTube video – Part 1

Are you really being Agile – YouTube video – Part 2

More information

If you would like to discuss this, or any other aspect of IT and Business Change recruitment please call Jumar Solutions on 0121 788 4550 or 0161 684 2305 or email us.

Helen Law is an experienced Recruitment Consultant at Jumar Solutions, based in the company’s North of England office.

2 thoughts on “The evolution of the Business Analyst: Are you prepared?

  1. Today’s market conditions are making organizations to adapt to short delivery cycles in order respond to customer expectations. The Agile moment may create opportunities for new skills and a new way of thinking, where not only the business analyst, but the whole project team need to be integrated throughout the project life cycle. There is a need to define requirements in smaller phases/parts that can be incremented, and promote collaboration in order to break down traditional communication barriers. The new BA now needs to accept changes and adjust the processes as needed to changing circumstances, but he/she still plays a key role in communicating and ensuring the scope has been defined, understood and balanced by the project team.

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