If you asked me that question two years ago, I would have looked at you with my head sideways and a very confused look on my face… Agile? Scrum Team? Is that a Rugby reference?

I’m Tim, and I’ve been a Business Analyst (BA) at Paymentshield for the last 18 months or so. Even now, every day is a ‘school day’ (I know, its cheesy, but cheesy can be good). I feel like I’m still learning, and have so much more left to learn, but in my opinion the answer to my original question posed above would be…………YES!

We have some very clever developers at Paymentshield, and they really know their stuff. But without knowing what our customers want, how would they know what they need to build? Any Scrum Team worth its salt knows the value of a good user story, and how it makes everyone’s job easier if we get it right.

A BA is a vital part of the team; we are the link between developers and the business. We look at what the business wants and needs, facilitate the right conversations about the work being done, and help to define any proposed solutions while providing any analysis required along the way. We work with key stakeholders to make sure that everything throughout the change process is delivered fit for its purpose.

A good example of this comes to mind - I recently received a change request to update a sales quotation journey so that a specific aspect of the insurance policy was highlighted to the user, in this case it would be the amount of No Claims Discount the customer would be entitled to. However, the change request was trying to provide a solution to a problem that didn’t exist, and following some conversations (I prefer to speak face to face where possible; I feel that so much can be lost over email, but that’s a blog for another day!), I managed to discover the truth of what they were trying to achieve and helped to provide a suitable solution.

As we believe in being ‘T-shaped’ team members, a good BA also helps the team in other ways whenever we can. Although I’m no developer, I can help my team with testing. I’ve worked at Paymentshield since Jan 2011 in different operational and customer service roles, which has helped me to understand our business and customers on a deeper level, so that I can test new products and services as if I’m the end user.

A Scrum Team without a BA is a bit like a boat without a rudder. It would still float, the work (or sailing) would continue, but would it go in the right direction?

Its funny really, that when I was first thinking about contributing to this blog, I thought ‘I really want to contribute and help, but I’ve not got anything useful or important to say’. It turns out I was wrong. Following a quick conversation with a colleague, he helped me to see that everything I was thinking was worthwhile and should be shared! Well there you have it, my first blog post (hopefully the first of many); why I think Business Analysts are important to a Scrum Team.

So what do you think?

Have worked without a Business Analyst in your team, and if so, how did it work for you?