Requirements and Agile – Does it go hand in hand? An interview with Agile business analysis expert Mary Gorman
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There have been interesting thoughts on how requirements and should requirements be managed in agile projects. Some believe that requirements management is meaningless; some believe they are still a critical factor irrespective of the methodologies one follow. Here we bring to you an interview with Mary Gorman, an Agile Business Analysis Expert at EBG Consulting where she argues that business analysis is essential for agile success.
Mary Gorman, CBAP, CSM, is VP of quality and delivery at EBG Consulting, whose experts help deliver high-value products that delight customers. Mary works with global clients, speaks at industry conferences, and writes on requirements topics for the business analysis community. In addition to serving on the IIBA® Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® Committee for four years, Mary helped create the first certification exam for the Certified Business Analysis Professional™ (CBAP®).
We've heard comments like "you can throw away all that requirements and analysis stuff now we're going Agile." Have you come across this and what's your view?
It's a common misconception. In fact, requirements drive agile teams! At EBG Consulting we find when agile teams collaboratively analyze requirements, they can speed development and delivery of high value products. The ability to be focused, nimble and disciplined about your requirements is essential for successful agile delivery.
So how does business analysis change as you adopt Agile practices?
You plan and analyze regularly to support a steady flow of product delivery, a hallmark of successful agile teams. On agile projects, we plan to re-plan. A plan represents your allocation of requirements—really options for satisfying product needs—to delivery cycles. Rather than trying to acquire all the possible requirements upfront at the start and create one big plan, you plan continually, using feedback from prior deliveries to adjust your plan. This in turn means you are continually analyzing requirements to discover high value options for the next delivery. Planning and analysis are interdependent and synergistic. See this article for more details.
Agile analysis is done just-in-time—you want your requirements to be “fresh”. You adjust the precision and granularity of requirements taking a just-enough approach. You make use of good analysis tools and techniques. For example, you might sketch a context diagram to quickly visualize the interfaces needed for a release, a minimum marketable feature, a use case or a story. Or organically explore requirements using a data model or state diagram. For more ideas to tune analysis for agile, visit Agile Analysis Challenges
What about the role of the business analyst in Agile?
In our forthcoming book, my co-author, Ellen Gottesdiener (EBG’s founder and president), and I write about a product partnership that collaborates to discover and deliver valued products. The partners include diverse perspectives from the business, customer and technology communities. We have found this partnership is critical for agile product success. (The book’s title is Discover to Deliver: Agile Product Planning and Analysis. Read more about it here.
Often business analysts ask us where they ‘fit’ in this partnership. Our response is to ask, “What are your skills?” An agile team needs strong skills in analysis, modeling, elicitation, facilitation, risk analysis, prioritization, strategic thinking, verification and validation along with a sound understanding of the product’s domain. The person who possesses a combination of such skills will be a valuable and valued team member.
Who should attend the webcast on How Business Analysis is Essential to Agile Success and what will they gain from it?
The webinar’s content has broad applicability. It may benefit someone involved with planning, analysis, valuation, validation and verification; teams and organizations transitioning to agile; product champions and product owners who have the responsibility for making decisions about what product options to deliver, anyone on an agile team who recognizes that user stories, user story maps, personas are often not enough to communicate product needs. The webinar provides ideas for holistically exploring and evaluating product options within a framework the agile team can use to reach a shared understanding of high value product needs.
Mary will be joining with us on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 for a webinar where she will expand on the below discussions to build a case that business analysis is your key for
Register for the webinar here
A replay will also be posted in case you missed the webinar on Wednesday. We believe this interview gave an insight into why business analysis is critical to agile projects. For more interactive discussion join us in the webinar.
What you think about requirements in agile? What level of requirements management/analysis do you follow in your agile projects?