Business Analysts and Scrum

By | July 9, 2018

Still trying to figure out some of the basics, I guess.

On a non-scrum project, we would normally have titles such as a developer, a tester, a business analyst, etc. But, since Scrum does not recognize titles within the development team, and since there are only 3 roles in Scrum, the only “role” business analysts may have in Scrum is being part of the Development Team.

So it’s neither a title, nor a role. The only other alternative seems to be that it might be a skill.

Development Teams in Scrum are supposed to be cross-functional in order to be able to deliver releasable increments, and it’s quite possible that somebody on the team could be specializing in the QA, somebody else in development, and somebody else could be specializing in the business analysis.

What would be the use of those skills, though? Traditionally business analysts are expected to create the requirements, and, in Scrum, that’s the role of the Product Owner. Scrum masters don’t do business requirements. As for the development team itself, I think there are a few activities that may require BA skills:

  • If, in the definition of Done, it’s stated, somehow, that some level of documentation has to be provided, that might be what the BA-s could be doing (although, it’s not like other team members are expected not to do it)
  • Backlog refinement process, which may take up to 10% of sprint time, assumes that some work will be done on refining the product backlog by the Development Team. So, again, that’s something business analysts could be doing. But, on the other hand, refinement is not all about business analysis – it could be about the technology, too, so other skills might be at play
  • If anything in the sprint log turns out to be unclear and/or requires clarification, I would assume BA-s might be well suited to take care of it. Although, another option(maybe even a better one) would be to say that somebody who is responsible for the sprint log item on the Development Team would be even better suited to ask for the clarifications

In either case, requirement gathering in preparation for the next sprint is not the responsibility of the Development Teams in Scrum, so this is not what a Development Team can be working on during any particular sprint.

With all those options above, maybe there is still another one, which is to not make the BA-s part of the Scrum Team (which includes the product owner, the scrum master, and the development team).

The most logical and productive placement for the BA-s in Scrum might be directly under the Product Owner, but outside of the Scrum Team. It’s the Product Owner who is responsible for the backlog, but nothing stops the product owner from delegating some of the requirement elicitation activities to others.. it’s just that, since such activities are not part of the sprint delivery, those others can’t be on the Development Team – instead, at least in this scenario, Business Analysts will probably become sort of proxy stakeholders for the team.

 

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