Business analysts becoming product owners

The business analysis industry missed the opportunity of a decade, namely confidently stepping into the product owner role at the very emergence of agile ways of working. Which it did not.

Many good analysts had already been doing that role in the decades previously: assessing trends, determining market needs, talking to customers, overseeing builds, reorganising internal capabilities etc.

Unfortunately, the profession decided to do nothing, favouring to stay within its comfortable box of ‘requirements gathering’ and ‘workshop facilitation’, often as a PMO compliance role, instead of embracing a genuinely visionary and leadership stance. Catch-up efforts have been to reluctantly carve out the ‘agile BA’ role, someone who now writes user stories, not requirements catalogues.

Many BA’s in my network are the exception, so I’m not writing to inflame 🔥 them personally, but rather congratulate their individual efforts. But many others have fallen asleep at the wheel, unconsciously conditioned by their training to produce analysis artefacts rather than deliver value. Many large organisations are happy with this, incidentally.

Scrum does not have an explicit role for a BA, but nor does it preclude a BA from being the product owner. Perhaps it’s time the business analysis profession steps beyond its comfort zone and really shows the world what it can do.

Frank Ray Consulting. Software requirements for agile development teams, particularly remote, outsourced and offshore development teams working in financial services.

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