I came across these two great presentations about Agile on the Pathfinder blog, which is something I check from time to time being an Agile development shop in Chicago.
The first slide show is about integrating design in to the Agile process. Something that is not really addressed in the Agile Manifesto, and is something I have posted about before. It is critical area for Agile BA’s to address because the dive in and deliver functional code approach of Agile is great, but can lead to a very haphazard design with no clear vision.
The second one on Writing User Driven Requirements just really helped bring me back again to always thinking about the user. I am certainly prone to thinking about business needs, or developer/technology constraints only, but the user should always stay front and center.
I have read a few articles recently that have talked about the promotion potential of Business Analyst’s, particularly at Laura Brandenburg’s excellent http://www.bridging-the-gap.com. What jobs are open to a BA? What skills do you have that can open new avenues? I think this is a very valid discussion as the BA role can seem pretty flat in terms of long-term potential. What is the career path? Senior Business Analyst? Super Senior Business Analyst?
There are typical answers to this, the most common being Project Manager, but that is one that I find distinctly unappealing. I think being an Analyst means you are the type of person who likes to get in to the weeds of a project a little too much for you to transfer nicely to a PM role. In a previous post I spoke about the cross-over between a BA and an Information Architect, and I still believe this is an open avenue, but this may be too “webby” or design focused a step for some people, as well as being a rare field, still growing and maturing and hence difficult to access.
As part of my Masters in Business & Information Technology at DePaul, I am taking a course in Knowledge Management, and it is fascinating. It is such a fuzzy area and almost a non-subject according to some, however I see a lot of value in it. It centers around not only how do we collate what we know in to knowledge bases but also how do we identify, stimulate and capture this information from experts within the organization.
Something that seems very clear to me is how a Business Analyst can significantly help in this area, if they have worked within an organization for a period of time. Over the course of various projects, many interviews have been conducted, problem domains examined and modeled, and a sense of the organizations knowledge centers would have been subconsciously formed. As the BA who is observing and objectively analyzing how information, data and processes flow within a company, they are essentially tracking the knowledge flow through a company, how it is formed and who are the creators, experts, team players etc. who contribute to it’s formation.
So when you are next creating an Activity Model, or interviewing key stakeholders for a new system, keep in mind that you are also tapping in to a key knowledge resource, that has a broader importance. If there is a knowledge management initiative at your company you may then be able to leverage this information outside of the main project focus. But if there isn’t a knowledge management initiative, then maybe this is a good way to propose one and perhaps land yourself with a Knowledge Management project.
Related posts on the Business Analyst career path: