One of the hardest parts of an agile transformation (outside of, you know, changing up the entire way that your organization produces value), is aligning existing organizational structures to new Scrum team roles. This process is absolutely essential, and you must take into consideration both the current role as well as the personality and interests of your team members.
This blog post will focus on how you can specifically map Business Analysts (BA) into your new Agile organization. Changing someone's job title requires sensitivity, and not every BA will exactly fit the description as outlined below. So, be sure to work with the individuals in your organization to find exactly where they should be. Don't forget that one of the key tenets of Agile is fast feedback and iterations! You may not find the right mapping the first time around, but some people will likely shift around as teams figure out how they work best.
What is a Business Analyst (BA)?
Let's start with the basics - what do BAs actually do? Before you can figure out where they'll go in the organization, let's start with establishing what role they serve.
According to CIO.com, "Business analysts (BAs) are responsible for bridging the gap between IT and the business."
What this looks like can vary across companies and industries, but the BA role generally involves analyzing data to determine requirements, deliver recommendations and reports, and evaluate existing processes. Successful BAs are often very detail-oriented and effective communicators, which can make them an asset to any team.
What are the roles in a Scrum Team?
Looking at Scrum teams, in particular, there are three primary roles:
- Scrum Master (SM): The Scrum Master supports the team members, unblocking them when necessary, and holding them to their commitments. Scrum Masters are the protector of the team – they ensure that the Product Owner and the organization respect the dedicated scope that the team has agreed to.
- Product Owner (PO): The Product Owner owns the product (wild, I know!). They incorporate customer and organizational feedback to manage and prioritize the backlog of the team.
- Development Team: A self-organizing team of developers that are responsible for determining the best way to implement the requirements of the Product Owner
So, where do they fit?
Let's compare. Which of the above Scrum Roles sounds most like a BA? Someone who has experience analyzing data and translating it to requirements will likely be well-prepared for...doing the same thing for a Scrum Team! Generally, where we see BAs succeed the most is when they take on a Product Owner role.
Much of the work is the same in these two roles, with a focus on data-based decision making and effectively communicating requirements. A Product Owner must be able to clearly communicate their goals to both the team and to internal and external stakeholders. Additionally, these communication skills are also necessary for the process of gathering feedback from customers.
On the other hand, we generally see less success in mapping BAs to Scrum Master roles, or (even worse) trying to have a BA function as both a Scrum Master and PO. The shift from product and data focus to people-focused work can be hard for experienced BAs, but it's definitely not impossible.
Again, when trying to align your existing team members to scrum roles, being open to feedback and change is important! You are dealing with people, so even if on paper your BA is a good match for a PO role, if they are expressing interest in something more like a Scrum Master, your teams will benefit from leadership being open to this kind of shifting.
Looking for more help in your agile transformation? Check out The ABCs of Agile or What’s the Difference? Agile Coach vs Agile Consultant! And if you are an enterprise looking to scale your business in a way where you still have financial control, learn How Jira Align Helps Enterprises Embrace Lean Budgets.