So the current buzz word right now is Agile and it is used in so many different ways to represent so many different things that the industry is in an absolute tailspin over agile. So let’s take a moment to separate fact from fiction.

FICTION: Agile means we don’t need to do any documentation.

People that advocate this type of Agile Development are taking us back 10 – 20 years when the customers talked directly to the developers. It didn’t work then hence the advent of the Business Analysis profession, so I am not sure why people think it will work now. There is still documentation, it is just a matter of focusing on value-added documentation rather than documenting laundry lists of must haves and shall haves.

FICTION: Agile means we don’t need a Business Analyst?

The role of the Business Analyst is even more critical on Agile Development projects because the need for upfront analysis and continued management of the requirements is an absolute necessity. Agile Development projects require rigorous planning in the beginning so once you get into the iterations of design, development, and test, the team is simply executing against the plan. In addition, the Business Analyst has to be ever vigilant in managing scope and new requirements for each iteration or release. It is important the BA continues to do analysis and determine the feasibility of the requirements as well as document requirements as the evolution of the development cycle continues.

FACT: Business Analysts’ need to be more adept at deciding what artifacts to use for different projects.

This is absolutely true. Gone are the days of 400 page requirement specifications (I wish I was exaggerating). Business Analysts’ need to have the ability to assess a project and decide what artifacts will add value for that project. In this way, the BA will become more agile by default and will only use documentation techniques that help the project team deliver results.

FICTION: The Agile Development Methodology will solve all our problems.

As with every methodology there are pros and cons to utilizing this approach.

Pros Cons
Receive feedback from the customer in a more timely manner Agile is most successful when teams are located together; difficult for dispersed teams
Better collaboration Can allow for significant scope creep (if not managed carefully)
Identify “defects” or changes to requirements early on It will fail without management buy in

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