Like a rolling stone, business analysts gather no moss. It's been nine months since I examined the changing role of the business analyst in a story and follow-up blog post, but I am still somewhat in awe of the diverse set of IT and broader business skills it takes to be an effective BA.
As if the communications, collaboration and problem-solving skills mentioned by Forrester Research's Mary Gerush and the three hard-working BAs whom I interviewed for my story weren't enough, now BAs increasingly will be expected to understand how Agile software development works, according to a CIO.com piece published on ITWorld. Forty-one percent of BAs interviewed by Gerush for a new Forrester report say they already use Agile techniques.
As I've written previously, Agile is quite different from the traditional waterfall software development process. Agile emphasizes speed and iterative change, which means BAs will likely need to change how they gather requirements from business users, one of their key tasks. If CIOs aren't yet mentioning Agile development, says Gerush, BAs may need to take it on themselves. She says:
Effective business analysts are constantly seeking to improve their core skills and staying up to date with technology changes to add the most value to their organization.
One of the ostensible goals of Agile is for software developers and business users to work together more closely during the development process. In that light, I think it makes perfect sense for BAs to familiarize themselves with Agile. Just don't expect quick wins.