I’m Sarah, I’m an IT Business Analyst (BA) at Paymentshield. I’ve been with the company for about two and a half years but I’ve been a BA for many years – I’m very old! The world is changing though. We work in an Agile way here at Paymentshield and I’ll be honest, I’ve been through a period of being a little bit out of my comfort zone at times.
Over the years I’ve worked for numerous companies – some big, some smaller, some very structured and some less so. It took time to learn my craft – It’s not always easy to elicit requirements, get to the root cause of an issue, or document the as-is/to-be processes. I need to be able to talk to the technical teams and the business – consider me a bridge between the two. So far so good, not much has changed on that front.
What has changed is the process. I’m used to looking at a whole requirement end-to-end, often taking weeks or even months to work with the business to identify what is needed in detail – often consulting with technical teams along the way. I’m comfortable with documentation – business requirements documents, functional specifications, process diagrams, gap analysis documentation. I like structure, order, documents, working through project stages with business sign-offs. In other words… I’m used to waterfall.
So, things have changed, I found myself in a Scrum team having daily stand-ups, throwing a rugby ball around and having to state what I’d achieved the previous day and what I was planning to achieve on the current day. I was put on the spot and a little uncomfortable. The language has changed too – we discuss epics, stories and tasks; we size in points and have a whole new set of meetings – PBRs, planning and retrospectives. But guess what… it turns out I can catch a rugby ball!
It’s different but it’s a rewarding way to work. We’ve continued to improve our Agile way of working at Paymentshield. The rugby ball has gone and we work through stories in our daily stand-up now. The scrum team I’m in is multi-disciplined including testers, developers and myself and has become a very close-knit team (dare I say we are becoming more ‘T-shaped’!). We work very closely with our Product Owner and other business stakeholders.
For my own part, I have had to adapt. I still like to understand the overall scope of a project but am learning to present project aims to the team at a higher level and working on detailed business requirements using more of a ‘just in time’ approach. As a team we work with our Product Owner and business stakeholders to identify epics and stories adding detail as required to stories. The emphasis though is on discussion with less reliance on documentation. We work in two-week sprints and refine the stories for each sprint to make sure they are achievable and can be tested. We understand our sprint velocity and are much better at planning the next sprint. The business benefit by being involved in the whole process and seeing the solution evolve as we demo working software throughout the sprint. I work much more closely with the developers and testers which means my technical skills are improving all the time.
I was a cynic but it turns out that working Agile has benefits. I’m not too old to change and look at me now – I’m writing a blog! My teenage son will be proud of me!