Review: The Agile Business Analyst Workshop

A unique workshop discussing the role and responsibilities of a Business Analyst in an agile environment took place last month in Bucharest and our colleague, Florina Tiriac, who attended the event, shared with us some impressions. Let’s take a look at her captivating review.

Florina Tiriac„As fate would have it, I found myself at The Agile Business Analyst workshop delivered by Shane Hastie at JW Marriott in Bucharest on the 18th and the 19th of last month. Stemming from the budding Silicon Valley of Cluj-Napoca, I chose the country’s capital to attend this event as the field of business analysis is relatively new to Cluj, where the The Agile Business Analyst Workshop Cluj is scheduled for May 16th and 17th.

I wanted Bucharest and Bucharest I got but boy, was I in for a surprise: the metropolis sported 31 degrees Centigrade in April, zero taxicabs available at 8:30AM and an above-ground public transport infrastructure that even a cultured person could only describe as a canine female to navigate.

But patience is a virtue and Google Maps is free, so I eventually made it to the workshop. The trainer, Shane, is a charismatic Kiwi with impressive knowledge in the Agile framework. There were 25-30 of us participants, divided in groups of 5-6 individuals; although not everyone managed to attend the event on both days and the team dynamics changed to some extent, we got lots of work done. The workshop was very practical in nature –  we always started with the theory, were presented with a relevant example, and then proceeded to the implementation of the solution design for very specific technological requirements.

I was fortunate enough to be a part of a very diverse team:

  1. Rodica, Business Analyst, with 13 years of experience in several IT related fields;
  2. Andreea, Business Analyst, with 1 year of experience in IT business analysis;
  3. Ştefan, Product Owner, with 8 years of experience in IT business analysis, product ownership and project management;
  4. Daniel, Product Analyst, with unspecified IT experience, co-worker of Ştefan’s;
  5. Cătălin, Executive Manager, with 16 years of experience in IT.

Tech brains in action

In short, an impressive mélange of tech brains in action.

As far as Agile concepts go, what I found most interesting was simplicity (maximizing the work not done) – so to speak, how to blend it all so that you do nothing twice, you do exactly what you’re supposed to do, and as little as possible of what you’re *not*. Especially for an eager beaver such as myself, this principle is golden: scope control. But my colleagues were not impressed. “It’s such a wet dream!” proclaimed a fellow analyst from a different table. Shane did not validate him, neither did he take it as a challenge; he simply reiterated his own point and went on with his presentation. However, when we got down to business and practical work, we found we had invested valuable time and effort in a completely wrong task.

Just so you get the context, this happened when we received the last and most complex assignment; it felt as though we had immersed in Dead Poets Society: Shane was walking around the tables with his hands at his back, boastfully giving us the requirements, more and more granular with each sentence, and each one of us was mentally adapting the possible technological solution to the client and market specifications that were being presented. Eventually he gave us the page from the workbook where the drill was written out. Ironically, in a room packed full with analysts, whose jobs basically boil down to software development requirements and documentation, everyone jumped at the chance of putting innovative ideas on the table, yet almost nobody stopped to read one page of requirements. I for one blame it entirely on Shane’s charisma.

Anyhow, as soon as it was clear for everyone what the task at hand was, we turned into a well-oiled machine; especially that we had not one but two POs with extensive Agile experience among us, both of whom actively contributed to the clarifications with exemplary diplomacy and wit.

A positive experience

All in all, it was a positive experience, I learnt a lot both about Agile and about BA, and I envy my colleagues who will attend the same event in Cluj this month: it’s like a good book that you can only read for the first time once. Plus, you can even get around by bike in Cluj.“

Thank you, Florina, for sharing your experience with us!