As I sit here in blustery Des Moines, Iowa (the temperature went from 60 to 30 in little over an hour last night), I thought I’d take a fond look at the ~23 hours I spent in Fort Lauderdale at the BBC 2014 conference a couple weeks ago. I would have liked to stay longer, but duty called and I had to leave shortly after my session to travel for some other work commitments.
But while I was at BBC, I was able to get a bit of a read on the amount of interest of agile in the analysis community, at least the community as represented by the attendees at BBC. I chose to spend the time before my session in the two sessions on the agile theme. I wrote up brief overviews of both sessions for the IIBA BBC newsletter, and here are the key points I took away from each session:
- Driving Agile Cultural Transformation – An Analyst’s Role by Dan Clausing Talked about the cultural aspect of agile transformations and where business analysis skills can prove useful. The idea that resonated the most with me was the idea when helping others learn a new technique, focus on why to use the technique, not how to do it. If people understand why they are using a technique, they’ll have a better chance of figuring out the most effective way to do it.
- The Agile BA: For an Agile team… You Complete Me! by Robert Woods discussed the business analyst role on agile projects. The idea that stood out to me is that the business analyst in an agile setting can become a swiss army knife by adopting a broad set of skills.
Both of these sessions were very well attended with probably somewhere between 150 – 200 people in each session. (Which is about the same number that looked like were in my session). This is fairly consistent trend from last year’s BBC where the agile related sessions were also quite full. I take this as another sign that agile is an area of considerable interest for many in the analysis community.
The main thing I took from observing the audience in my session is there a much bigger proportion of people who work at organizations with several teams adopting agile and the remainder of the audience were mostly trying it out with a few teams. Again, probably not conclusive evidence, but I take it as a sign that many larger organizations, where business analysis is a more prevalent role, are either adopting agile, or are trying to expand it’s use past a few projects.
Since I was there for a limited time, I didn’t get a chance to speak to as many folks as I would have liked, or to listen to any conversations that went on at the Agile Open Jam sponsored by the Agile Alliance. I’m disappointed about that, but take a little bit of comfort in knowing that the results of the Agile Open Jam conversations will shortly be posted on the Analysis & Product Management in Agile Google Community. In the meantime, what I did observe is consistent with other things I’ve seen in the community lately that (some industry surveys not withstanding*) people with business analysis skills are involved with agile projects and are finding ways to utilize their existing skills to deliver value to their projects.
*It’s one thing to understand agile sufficiently to be effective on a project, something different to be the person who knows the MOST about agile on a project. The only time this is a big problem if the person in question is the agile coach.