Business Agility and the New Role of the Business Analyst


"Business analysts are indispensable agents for achieving business agility"

For the last decade the software developer has been the only rock star of our Internet driven world. That’s about to change. The gee-whiz effect created by Web 2.0 applications, social media, smart phones and cloud computing has worn off and people don't need to be programmers any more to use these technologies; now companies want to use them to drive business and make money. That’s where the business analyst comes in.

Kevin Brennan, Vice President of Professional Development at the International Institute of Business Analysts (IIBA) puts it like this, “The concept of IT/Business alignment is problematic at best – to say that IT needs to be better aligned with business presumes that it might have some other purpose.” Exactly. In business (unlike in research or academic organizations) the only reason for technology is to enable companies to better respond to change, to cut costs and make money. This calls for people who understand business and technology and see how to combine the two in profitable ways.

In a series of conversations, Kevin Brennan and I discussed the new role of the business analyst and what the future holds for people who build careers in this field. To structure our conversation, we articulated a central idea or axiom and then defined four key propositions that flow from that axiom. Presented below are that axiom and our thoughts related to the four key propositions.

Author: Michael Hugos (posted at

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Tony Markos posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 3:04 PM
Micheal Hugos wrote:

Process mapping is a great technique for an agile BA to use to illustrate existing business workflows and combine ideas from many different people to design new workflows because it uses a graphic diagram format (instead lots of text) and is easily understood by business and technical people.

Tony Markos responds:

A very important consideration is missing here. An article just previous to yours on Modern stated that, in Agile projects, the BA needs to up-front perform a high-level analysis to arrive at a "high-level roadmap". (This analysis is used as the primary input to a variety of subsequent Agile tasks, such as system scoping and requirements priortization for Agile iterations.)

Problem: Process mapping typically refers to flow diagrams that are primarily based upon flow of control/flow of sequence. Howevr, at higher levels, both manual and automated systems, especially other than smallish ones, are characterized as potentially having many processes happening at the same time and processes that can happen in any order. Such behavior makes it almost impossible to use typical process mapping techniques to document systems at higher levels of abstraction as there is no defined sequence or set flow of control.

FYI: I myself relly upon data flow diagrams to capture such behavior.

Bottom Line: Traditional process mapping techniques are not appropriate for the all important up-front "big picture" analysis required on Agile projects. They may, however, be appropriate for the more detail-level analysis done during the subsequent iterative development cycles.

Tony Markos
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