Agile Projects and Business Analysts

Do Business Analysts Even Matter Anymore?

Do agile projects need a business analyst? If you ask Roland Hesz, he’ll tell you it depends.

What does it depend on? Well, a few things. For one thing, it depends on the situation and unique challenges of the project. It also matters just what the team itself looks like. For instance, Hesz starts with a familiar set up: one team on a short project where the project owner is co-located with the development team:

This is the ideal, classic Agile project set up – the project lasts a year maybe, there is only one team involved (4-6 people) and the product owner, if not sitting right with the team, is close, easily accessed.
If you run a project like this, then my answer is no, you don’t need a business analyst. Someone still have to do the business analysis related tasks, but there is no definite need for a dedicated business analyst.

The product owner can meet with the team easily when there is a need, and by selecting the right sprint length the whole project can run by the book – user stories refined by the product owner and the developers as they go along.

Sometimes, the BA is the Key

But there are other situations where having a business analyst makes perfect sense. A business analyst can be a huge help when multiple teams are in one place and the product owner is also on-site with the development teams. It’s simply too much to handle for one product owner, and the business analyst can act as a proxy product owner.

Another situation which certainly calls for a business analyst is when multiple teams are spread out all over the place (geographically speaking). The business analyst needs to act as a waypoint for various people working on the project. Without someone in this role, the project will surely encounter problems which very well may grind progress to a halt.

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