In agile, the business analyst’s role in facilitating communication with stakeholders is vital to the project. The BA must call upon his or her people skills to effectively interact with all involved in the project. Because the agile method is paced in sprints (aptly named), the BA must be consistent and energetic.
The planning cadence for agile projects, according to the Agile Extension for the BABOK® Guide, is…
Each project is initiated by determining the business need, and the team leader will spearhead establishing a vision, scope, roadmap, and feature request list. The team will determine the context of the solution, the steps to creating the vision previously outlined, and work priorities.
Strong BA skills are vital in agile to create an effective strategy for implementing feature requests in a timely fashion. Without direction from a roadmap and a clearly defined scope, the project can easily become derailed. Planning is vital to any agile project’s success.
In release planning, activities are assigned to teams, which determine the time frames of iteration releases. Teams need all the information they can possibly get to create a responsible yet timely scope for each release. Teams carefully time releases when the benefits of delivery outweigh the costs. Release dates are set and often linked to events such as annual meetings or regulatory requirements.
Typically, agile teams work in fixed time windows called sprints or iterations, and planning takes place before a new sprint or iteration begins. Often, the customer or product owner of the product works with the team to trim the request list and set requirements and acceptance criteria before the current sprint begins. The scope of work is defined and set to a time frame.
At the end of iteration planning, the team commits to a specific date for delivering a working, solution. A product demonstration is held, and during the demo, several tasks are completed:
- The team shows how the code was developed.
- The product owner determines which items on the request list have been provided satisfactorily.
- The team processes any new feature requests.
- The owner and team review the technology and revise the request list for the next iteration.
After the demonstration, the next sprint begins, and new iterations continue until the product is finished to the product owner’s satisfaction.
Many agile teams check in with each other in a short daily meeting, which gives them a snapshot of the project’s progress along with any crucial tasks that must be done immediately. The iteration commitment is stressed in each meeting, and often issues arise that can be dealt with quickly before they become a crisis.
Project requirements and parameters can change, so continuous planning keeps the communication open and errors to a minimum. With planning, the team shares understanding and has frequent discussions about the project and expectations. Every team member has a unique contribution, and the communication style found in agile allows for the free flow of information at all times.
Do you have any specific tips for agile planning?