Specialist Team Members within a Scrum Team – Business Analyst

Whilst individuals  within a Scrum development team may have specialist skills and areas of focus, accountability to deliver the Sprint work belongs to the Development team as a whole.

In Scrum, there is no business analyst role; instead the business analyst works as part of the development team and utilises their specialist skills to help their peers refine the product backlog. As a team member within the Scrum development team, business analysts play an important role: They usually act as the link between the business and IT, helping to discover the user needs and the solution to address them[1].

As backlog refinement is a team effort in Scrum, analysts working on the team take on additional responsibilities, for instance, working closely with the testers or the technical writer. As a business analyst on the team, they would be expected to pick up new skills, broaden their expertise, and be open to work in new areas.

The business analyst would support the Product Owner by:

  • helping write/define product backlog items (user stories)
  • researching the background for user stories
  • meeting with clients and business to establish what is needed, what they are wanting to achieve and how that may impact current systems, processes and users

 The business analyst would contribute to the development team by:

  • hunting out buried documentation about the system being modified
  • assisting with the preparation of wireframes
  • writing and quality assuring test cases
  • writing copy and getting sign off for it
  • Completing design and functional documentation

Business analysts can be instrumental team members on an agile project as they can help shift the emphasis from writing about requirements to talking about them[1]. On traditional projects, analysts tend to be intermediaries between team members, but on a Scrum project, the analyst as a development team member is the facilitator of the team and product owner discussion.
As a team member, an analyst’s first priority is to achieve the goals of the current sprint. This is in contrast to looking ahead and forecasting as he or she is used to. An analyst on a Scrum team will assist in testing and answering questions (or tracking down answers) about features, and participating fully in all regular sprint meetings.
The Team chooses how best to accomplish their work, rather than being directed by others outside the team. Business Analysts are often included in Scrum cross functional teams as these teams will have all the competencies needed to accomplish the work without depending on others not part of the team in order to optimise flexibility, creativity and productivity.

[1] http://www.mountaingoatsoftware.com/training/roles/business-analyst

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