Tune analysis for agile

The right skills for agile business analysis

Collaboration on agile teams

Get expert agile help

Are These Your Agile Analysis Challenges?

Tune analysis for agile

Does Agile mean ‘no need for requirements’?

When do you analyze requirements?

How detailed should agile requirements be?

When you’re planning an agile project, you may be confused about how to develop and manage requirements. You may have heard that you don’t “do” requirements on an agile project. Or, on the other hand, that you have to conduct full-blown requirements analysis before you can estimate and plan iterations. Or that being agile means you jettison all requirements-related documentation, or that it’s a waste of time to do business analysis in agile projects.

All these beliefs are mistaken.

Agile projects do need requirements. After all, requirements are the basis for delivery. Since you plan continually in agile projects, you also analyze requirements continually. Along with business value and risk, requirements analysis drives planning and delivery cycles in agile projects.

Factors in Tuning Your Analysis

You must tune your agile analysis for the product and project. To tune your project’s specific agile analysis practices, you consider a number of factors.

You analyze the product’s impact on human life and the financial stakes for the sponsoring organization.

You look at the nature of the requirements in the problem domain.

You assess your team’s proximity to your customer (product owner) and your team’s domain knowledge.

You consider the urgency of the project’s financial payback, the technical and team risk, the physical location of the team, the project’s financial and time constraints, and more.

With all this, you strive for the leanest possible requirements analysis. How?

You conduct “just in time” analysis to eliminate extra features and incomplete work.

You do “just enough” analysis to reduce or eliminate handoffs and delays.

To remove requirements defects, you focus on “doneness” (conditions of satisfaction) and write small, cohesive requirements. This practice also reduces the cost of relearning and rework.

The Unfolding of Agile Requirements

Agile requirements evolve within your delivery cycles. The product as a whole will unfold over time, release by release. The success of your project relies on effective and efficient agile analysis.

Agile development does not eliminate the need for requirements. Instead, it means skillfully calibrating the timing and granularity of requirements to the cadence of agile delivery.

Read more:

How Agile Practices Reduce Requirements Risk

The Agile Analyst: Eyes for Waste

“Analysis Debt” (forthcoming in Better Software)

“A View to Agile Requirements” (forthcoming in Modern Analyst)

Agile Business Analysis: Parts I, II, III and IV

YAGNI Your Requirements Documentation

Requirements Practices in Agile Projects

Learn how in EBG’s training courses:

Agile Business Analysis: A Comprehensive Roadmap for Success

Agile Requirements: Collaborating to Define and Confirm Needs

Apply skills in EBG’s:

Agile Jump-Start Program

Retrospective workshops

Facilitated workshops for agile teams

Get expert assistance:

Direct project help

Agile coaching (onsite or virtual)

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The right skills for agile business analysis

What kind of analysis work is needed on an agile team?

What are the responsibilities of the customer?

What does a business analyst do on an agile team?

Agile teams are committed to delivering fully tested software in short delivery cycles. Research shows that agile teams can be more productive and deliver higher-quality software than traditional (waterfall) teams.

To achieve these gains, agile teams need sophisticated analysis practices. These practices require domain expertise, skills in agile modeling, understanding of business value and strategy, and awareness of technical and team risk.

Who does this analysis? The answer depends on the team, the product, and the project. Begin by focusing on your agile customer (product owner).

The Project Customer

The customer defines the vision and business value of the project.

She has rich domain knowledge and analysis skills.

She needs a view of the market and product strategy—the big view.

She is continually available to the team to answer questions about requirements and participate in user acceptance testing—the now view.

She participates in agile planning and makes decisions about what to build, and when, for upcoming deadlines—the pre-view.

On some teams, a single customer has the needed blend of analysis and domain expertise, along with the time to fill the team’s continual need for just-in-time requirements information and decisions. On other teams, it takes a combination of team members to possess these skills and knowledge. On other teams, the customer has the domain knowledge but not the other skills, so team members fill in.

Agile Business Analysts

Many agile teams include agile business analysts. These analysts offer advanced requirements elicitation and analysis skills and help the team define small, crisp, just-in-time requirements in short timeboxes.

Many agile business analysts also have rich domain expertise. On some teams, agile business analysts play a strategic role by helping the customer define business value as well as plan and facilitate agile planning workshops.

Often, business analysts also define and deliver the necessary and sufficient requirements-related documentation for internal and external product stakeholders.

Crucial Roles

The customer role is crucial to the success of your agile project. In reality, it’s a challenge to find someone who has the skills, knowledge, and time to fulfill the customer role.

Customers often pair with a business analyst to deliver the now-view. When business analysts are allocated decision-making authority for all now-view work, they serve as the tactical customer, freeing up the customer to act in a strategic role, focusing on the pre-view and the big-view.

No matter how you fill these roles with your specific profile of people, the analysis skills and business knowledge are crucial if your team is to deliver the kind of value that agile projects promise.

Read more:

Agile Business Analysis in Flow (Part1): The Work of the Agile Analyst

Agile Business Analysis in Flow (Part II)

Adapting Your Requirements Practices (Part I)

Adapting Your Requirements Practices (Part II)

Learn how in EBG’s training courses:

Agile Business Analysis: A Comprehensive Roadmap for Success

Agile Requirements: Collaborating to Define and Confirm Needs

Apply skills in EBG’s:

Agile Jump-Start Program

Facilitated workshops for agile teams

Get expert assistance:

Direct project help

Agile coaching (onsite or virtual)

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Collaboration on agile teams

Why is collaboration so important to agile teams?

How do collaborative workshops fit into agile methods?

Who attends the workshops?

Agile teams make tough choices about requirements—collaboratively—and include the perspectives of all the product’s business and technical stakeholders. Agile teams also collaborate throughout the entire project to plan, make decisions, enhance learning, and continually adapt their practices.

Healthy collaboration yields a healthy project community whose members share focus, values, and trust. Collaboration fuels the agile delivery engine.

Agile Methods in Collaborative Workshops

In collaborative workshops, a carefully selected group of stakeholders—including content experts, product owners and customers, and the delivery team—works together to define, create, refine, and reach closure on deliverables.

These workshops have their roots in classic JAD (Joint Application Design/Development in the 1980s) as well as DSDM (Dynamic Systems Development Method).

On an agile project, requirements unfold within the context of the rhythm of agile planning: product, release, and iteration (or sprint). Planning and requirements converge.

Collaborative workshops provide an effective venue for agile teams to work together transparently to make the complex decisions about what to build, and when. You use these workshops to plan (define a product roadmap, releases, and iterations) and to adapt (conduct retrospectives)

What Happens in Agile Workshops?

In planning workshops, you explore and allocate requirements. These workshops involve eliciting, elaborating, and analyzing requirements (requirements modeling) for the next planning horizon.

During retrospective workshops, team members inspect and adapt both the product and the process.

Agile teams are adept at tuning their requirements focus to reflect the big-view, the pre-view or the now-view of requirements in collaborative workshops.

During product roadmapping workshops, agile teams explore and allocate the big-view of requirements to map out a strategy for the entire product. In release planning workshops, you focus on a smaller time horizon to get a pre-view of requirements for the next release. In iteration planning workshops, you explore and plan for a small, concise set of requirements for the immediate sprint—the now-view.

Who Attends the Workshops?

Agile planning workshops involve the project and product community: the technical team and the business customers (product owners). In the product and release workshops, people at higher levels in the organization typically participate.

At times, these agile workshops incorporate additional formality and planning. For example, participants are scheduled, workshop pre-work is designed, and a skilled facilitator works out an agenda for orchestrating the participants’ interactions to optimize outcomes. This process is similar to the way traditional JAD-like workshops are planned and designed.

At other times in your agile project, collaborative modeling is more informal and ad hoc. In any case, agile requirements modeling is focused on the necessary and sufficient requirements for the requirements focus at hand: big-view, pre-view, or now-view.

Collaboration Is Key

Your success with agile development depends on delivering the right product requirements at the right time.

This means that the project team must make frequent requirements decisions that optimize business value, mitigate risks, and minimize the architectural impact of requirements dependencies. Successful agile teams collaborate to make these decisions, and they use agile requirements modeling in planning workshops to feed the engine that makes agile teams run—collaboration.

Read more:

Agile Requirements by Collaboration: Making Smart Choices about What and When to Build

Easing the Transition to Agile

Agile Requirements, In Context

Retrospectives: Harvesting the Wisdom of Teams

Team Retrospectives - for Better Iteration Assessment

You Know When It’s Not There: How Trust Enables and Enhances Collaboration

What’s Going Right Around Here? Using AI to Improve Your Agile Requirements Process

Learn how in EBG’s training course:

Collaborating for Success: Facilitation Skills for Agile Teams

Project Retrospectives and Team Reviews: Benefiting from the Wisdom of Teams

Apply skills in EBG’s:

Agile Jump-Start Program

Facilitated workshops for agile teams

Retrospective workshops

Get expert assistance:

Direct project help

Agile coaching (onsite or virtual)

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Get expert agile help

EBG Consulting can help you enjoy success with agile. We are widely recognized for our emphasis on collaboration, expertise in agile requirements, and the quality of our experienced learning facilitators and coaches.  Contact us to learn how we can partner with you.

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