Originally written by Trina Silverglate, IT Consultant; Abridged August 2017
In Scrum methodology, the BA is not a defined role, but often companies decide it will be most effective to include one on their teams. Because of the lack of definition around the role, as a Business Analyst Contractor, you can end up with a wide variance of responsibilities. To set yourself up for success on your next Scrum project, ESP has identified these 5 simple steps:
1. Learn About The Team To Know Where You Fit In
Ask if the project will have individuals that are dedicated to the roles of Product Owner and Scrum Master. If not, a BA with Scrum experience or certification may be asked to help fill one or both of those roles. If there is a dedicated Product Owner and/or Scrum Master on the team, find out how she or he will perform that role on the project. Know where you’ll be needed, and avoid confusion concerning responsibilities.
2. Dig In More to Know If The Role Fits You
As a BA, you may spend 80% of your time meeting with the PO, Marketing, and other business or customer-facing team members, and very little time actively engaged with the developers. If the Product Owner and/or Scrum Master is new to the role or has other projects at the same time, you may take on the duties of coaching, helping to define the content of each Sprint, leading daily standups, and more. When speaking with your consulting firm and the client, be honest about how you would like to contribute as a BA – and seek to understand what the hiring manager is expecting for your role.
3. Be Respectful of Boundaries
There is a large gray area in the BA role on Scrum teams; this means your Product Owner and Scrum Master may have different expectations of your role based on BAs they have worked with in the past — or they might not have any experience working with a BA. Always reiterate that you are joining the project to support their roles, not to duplicate effort or detract from the key parts they play to make the project successful.
4. Ask questions
Asking questions is key to making sure that you feel like you are a valuable member of the Scrum team and to helping others see that value. If it is not clear at the start of the project, ask each member of the team what his or her expectations are for your role. If someone is unsure, suggest how you can help and look for confirmation.
5. Approach Each Project With A Clean Slate
Whatever you may have done on your previous Scrum project, it is unlikely you will have exactly the same responsibilities on the next. If you don’t have a “clean slate” mentality, it will be difficult to execute on those suggestions. Understand that your role will vary based on the duties of the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and other team members. Be flexible in your role on each project, and directly communicate with other members of the team to determine where you will add the most value.
If you consider these five steps, you’ll not only help your current team define the role of Business Analysts in Scrum, you’ll leave them wondering why there’s no official BA role in “textbook Scrum” in the first place!
About the Author: Trina Silverglate has 20 years of technical experience, holding a variety of roles, including technical writer, BA, Scrum Master and Product Owner. Her career as an IT Consultant has given her a wide variety of experiences at companies in the Twin Cities Metro area, giving her a unique perspective on how the role of BA varies in different organizations’ utilization of scrum methodology. She is a member of the Agile Alliance, IIBA Minneapolis, and a certified Scrum Master.