Changes to the Business Analyst role

01 Aug

With the rise in the takeup of the Agile approaches  one of the most common areas of confusion is the changing role of the business analyst. 

I wrote an article which summarises my thinking on the topic earlier in the year.  It can be found at   I feel that the fundamental nature of the role doesn’t change – ensuring the customer voice is heard and business value is protected. The the way we do analysis, and when we do the detailed analysis does change – focusing on”just-enough, just-in-time”, deferring in-depth detailed work until just before it is needed.

CIO magazine has an article by Thomas Wailgum titled “Business analysts: role changes require new skill sets” in which he says

The business analyst’s job has changed this year — and so have the critical skills that companies demand. New research shows that while communication is still key, knowledge of Lean and Agile methods is a must-have as well.

Talking about changes in the role he  quotes Forrester analyst Mary Gerush:

Business analysts need to “obtain cross-functional knowledge and experience by [being exposed] to new technologies and different business units and cross-training…in project management, development and quality assurance” 

What do you think? 

Posted by Shane Hastie


Posted by on August 1, 2009 in Agile



2 responses to “Changes to the Business Analyst role

  1. James King

    August 2, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Hey Shane

    When I read the CIO article it seemed to imply that BAs should learn more about “Agile”, “Lean”, new technologies and their business unit/organisation.

    I think the BA role does actually change more substantially than this on Agile projects.

    In fact I left quite a long rant on my blog:

    In essence I think many Agile project focus too heavily on building code and not on building the remaining elements of the “solution”. These include support materials, process changes, integration with business culture.

    In these areas I think the team need a “business architect” to focus on the design and implementation of the business aspects of the solution. And just as a senior developer is a good solution architect, I think the BAs need to step up to fill the business architecture gap on the project

  2. John Watson

    August 4, 2009 at 11:49 am

    This comment reflect and expands on a comment that I left on James’ blog

    “Agile”, “agile”, “traditional”, “planned”; whatever word we use to describe the chosen approach doesn’t significantly alter the objective of the (Business) Systems Analyst and that is to ensure that the customer gets the complete and appropriate solution to their problem. The solution might or might not contain an ICT component.

    What is required is well-trained Systems Analysts who understand how to take a holistic view of a system, using a variety of more or less formal techniques in order to help the organisation to solve problems or realise opportunities.

    My observation over the last few years is that due to resource pressure, and perhaps an unwillingness to pay higher salaries, that the technical skill level of so-called Business Analysts has degraded. To some extent this might explain the (I think erroneous) view held by some TRagile exponents that “We don’t need no BAs.”


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