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Traditional vs Agile Business Analysis: Embracing the Best of Both Worlds

By Retha De La Porte
Published in Opinion pieces
July 06, 2023
2 min read
Traditional vs Agile Business Analysis: Embracing the Best of Both Worlds

Introduction

Business Analysts play a critical role in any project, helping to bridge the gap between the business and the technical team. They help to ensure that the development team’s work is aligned with the business needs and objectives. Traditionally, Business Analysts have worked in a phase-gate or Waterfall approach, where requirements are gathered upfront before development begins. In contrast, Agile Business Analysts work in an iterative and incremental manner, engaging in short cycles called sprints, which include constant collaboration with stakeholders.

So, what are the differences between Traditional and Agile Business Analysis approaches? Let’s take a closer look.

Traditional Business Analysis

In Traditional Business Analysis, a Business Analyst works in a phase-gate or Waterfall approach, where requirements are gathered upfront before development begins. This process typically involves interviewing stakeholders and subject matter experts, collecting feedback, and identifying the essential features, functions, and workflows of the new system. The Business Analyst then spends several weeks or months documenting the requirements in detail, often with diagrams, wireframes, or prototypes. These detailed requirements lay the foundation for the development team, who then use them to develop a solution. A Traditional Business Analyst typically works in a sequential order, from requirements gathering through to solution delivery and testing. There is less emphasis on collaboration and feedback from stakeholders once the requirements are documented.

Agile Business Analysis

Agile Business Analysis follows an iterative and incremental approach, where the Business Analyst collaborates with stakeholders in short cycles called sprints. Requirements are worked on in a piecemeal fashion, with a focus on delivering value at every cycle. Agile Business Analysts work closely with stakeholders to identify essential features and requirements that need to be implemented first to provide immediate value while avoiding features that are less critical until later on. This process of continuous feedback and refinement results in a more flexible, adaptable, and customer-centric solution that aligns with project objectives.

Why There Is A Place For Both

Both Agile and Traditional Business Analysis approaches have their strengths and weaknesses. Traditional Business Analysis is better suited for large, complex projects that have stable and well-understood requirements. On such projects, delivering a well-thought-out, detailed requirement document helps ensure that the development team has a clear understanding of the requirements upfront, which might be critical to ensuring successful project delivery. However, this approach can be less flexible and reactive to change, and there is less collaboration with stakeholders during the development process.

Agile Business Analysis, on the other hand, is great for projects where the requirements change frequently and evolve over time. The Agile process focuses on maximizing value through early and continuous delivery, enabling stakeholders to see immediate results and provide feedback that augments the project’s progress. As the project progresses, adjustments can be made to requirements to better align with stakeholder feedback, ensuring that the development process is customer-centric, flexible, and adapts to changing business needs.

To Be A Good Business Analyst, You Should Be Able To Switch Between The Two

To be a good Business Analyst, one must understand both Agile and Traditional Business Analysis approaches. As an Agile Business Analyst, one must maintain a flexible, adaptive attitude and have excellent communication and collaboration skills. As a Traditional Business Analyst, one must be well-versed in formal documentation and have excellent writing and report skills. Furthermore, a Business Analyst that can switch between the two methods effectively is well-positioned to manage projects of different types, structures, and stakeholder cultures.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Business Analysis is essential to any project, and both Agile and Traditional Business Analysis approaches play important and complementary roles in ensuring successful project delivery. Rather than viewing them as antagonistic approaches, it is wise to understand and utilize both methods where appropriate. A good Business Analyst can shift between the two approaches smoothly, adapting to the project’s culture, and stakeholders’ objectives.

Traditional vs Agile BA Infographic


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Previous Article
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Retha De La Porte

Retha De La Porte

Business Analyst

Table Of Contents

1
Introduction
2
Traditional Business Analysis
3
Agile Business Analysis
4
Why There Is A Place For Both
5
Conclusion

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