agile business analysis with mary gorman and ellen gottesdiener

TBAC 023 | Author Cast : Agile Business Analysis – Does it Exist?

by Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo5

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Agile is making the rounds in almost every organization. There was a recent agile extension to the BABOK®, agile blogs are surfacing every other day and agile events are gaining increasing traction.  They say the future is in agile!


In this special and first three-way AuthorCast, I bring you one of the foremost experts in the world of agile to help demystify some of the misconceptions surrounding agile. We talk about how agile can add value to projects, what is the role of a BA in agile? what aspects of change can be approached using agile? How is agile gaining traction in the organizations and the perennial: Do we really need a BA in agile project?

To help answer all these, and many more thoughts around agile business analysis, here are Ellen and Mary:

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Sneak peek of the episode:

  • The idea of immediacy and identifying something valuable and within a very short timeframe.
  • Discussion around the narrow slice of business value and delivering it.
  • Traditional analysis vs agile analysis.
  • The importance of getting a shared understanding of the product needs.
  • Deliver something as quickly as possible to learn – do a research spike.
  • Taking agile approach to business case building activities.
  • Discussion around agile extension to the BABOK.
  • Why do we don’t need a BA on an agile project!
  • Discussion around scrum method / framework – product owner role, scrum master (team facilitator), & team.
  • How business analysis contributes to scrum teams.
  • BAs may blend into the delivery team.
  • When can BA be a product owner – situations that entail this.
  • Agile Jumpstart.
  • Coaching the analyst to become a scrum master.
  • Cultural changes in an organization when they tread on the agile path.
  • Four functional requirements … user role / the actions that product needs to provide / data / biz rules to enforce.
  • Importance of light-weight modeling.
  • Multi-modeling – analyze requirements at functional level.
  • Burning down and burning up work in value.
  • The BIG VISIBLE concept.
  • The mood board concept – visualizations of the product.
  • The agile traction in the industry.
  • Agile has moved into mainstream.
  • Every organization is at least piloting agile somewhere.
  • Why the term agile will go away.

Insightful quotes from this episode:

“The goal of the team is to deliver a valuable product – remove ur baseball cap that says BA on it… ”

“Every organization is at least piloting agile somewhere. ”

“We really don’t know what to build, until we start to build it…”

“There is huge value in getting feedback in what you build and how you built it as quickly as possible.”

“You are not leaving and coming back later, but you see the product evolve.”

“Deliver something as quickly as possible to learn – do a research spike… ”

“We are willing to do what matters to deliver value to the business. Period. “

Items mentioned in the show:

Ellen Gottesdiener in brief:

Ellen Gottesdiener is Principal Consultant and founder of EBG Consulting, Inc. Ellen has authored two books, numerous articles and contributed to several compilation books. She is a frequent speaker at national conferences and an industry advisor. Ellen develops all the training material used by EBG Consulting. Since 1991 Ellen has provided a broad range of services to EBG clients including consulting, mentoring, facilitation and training. Prior to founding EBG, Ellen spent 13 years as a manager, team leader, developer, and trainer with a major insurance and financial services organization.

Mary Gorman in brief:

Mary Gorman, Vice President, Quality & Delivery at EBG Consulting, assists project teams to explore, analyze, and build robust business and system requirements. Mary has over 25 years experience working with many organizations, including numerous Fortune 100 companies, as a consultant, mentor, trainer, facilitator, process engineer, developer, and analyst. Mary is a CBAP™ (Certified Business Analysis Professional™).

If you have any comments or questions for this episode, please post them below.

Enjoy the show and don’t forget to spread the word about this awesome episode using the social sharing links.


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Article by

Yaaqub Mohamed (Yamo), is the founder of The BA Coach community and host for the #1 ranked business analysis podcast in iTunes. He believes in adding relentless value to the BA community and advancing the practice.  He host this blog, and podcast to help business analysts throughout the world, do analysis better, by providing educational, relevant, and inspiring content. He's the author of 'The Five Pillars of a Great Business Analyst', best selling 'The Ultimate CBAP-CCBA Study Guide' and the creator of the revolutionary 'Ultimate BABOK Kit'. 

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5 Responses to “TBAC 023 | Author Cast : Agile Business Analysis – Does it Exist?”

  1. Katie Metcalfe says:

    Thanks Yamo, Mary and Ellen for an interesting podcast about Agile Business Analysis.

    I have a question for Mary and Ellen; what Agile techniques would you suggest introducing to a software development team that is currently not using the Agile approach but would like to get a “flavour” for the methodology.

    Thanks again for the podcast and of course Ellen for the excellent books. :).


    • Hi Katie:
      Thanks for your note and query.

      We like to think of Agile not as a “methodology” per se, rather as a disciplined discovery and delivery framework. The term “Agile” encompasses a number of methods such as lean, Scrum, XP, DSDM, Kanban, FDD, and more.

      Here are some suggestions for “getting a flavor” for agile:

      * Partition product delivery into planning horizons. Even if you don’t release to the customer for your shorter horizons, you complete a fully releasable product at the end of each delivery cycle. This takes enormous focus, discipline, and collaboration. Read this article for more info:

      * Explicitly identify business value for all product partners (customer, business, technology). Value is in the eyes of the beholder (see: ). Be clear how decisions will be made. Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. (Some tips for collaboration/discovery workshops on agile teams are here: )

      * It’s the goal, not the role. Analysis is the entire team’s responsibility. (see: http://bit.lygoalnottherole )

      * As partners, explore options for product needs using the 7 Product Dimensions (users, interfaces, actions, data, controls, quality attributes and environments). Collaborate to assemble the highest value options for your next delivery cycle. Slice product needs into requirements (chunks) and as a team, deliver them in the shortest possible timeframe.

      * Explore product needs using a combination of analysis models and examples (e.g., scenarios, acceptance tests, specs in the form of “given/when/then” or data tables). Pull the “testing mindset” forward. Consider specifying requirements with those examples and models. Don’t write classic textual specifications. Read more here ( )

      * Learn. Expect to “fail” to learn – it’s only failure if the team doesn’t use mistakes as a forum for improvement. Conduct retrospectives to “inspect and adapt” at regular intervals. (see Honestly and transparently reflect on both process and product.

      * The book Mary and I are writing provides specific, practical guidance and examples on these practices. Stay tuned for the book launch this summer. Details for pre-ordering will be in our eNewsletter. (You can sign up at

      all the best,
      ~ ellen and mary

      • Katie Metcalfe says:

        Thanks Ellen and Mary. You have given me lots to review and think about. Looking forward to the new book.

  2. […] to the podcast we recorded on agile analysis practices with BA coach Yamo. (Find the podcast here.) The specific question that Katie Metcalf asked us was […]

  3. […] Mary Gorman – for providing positive encouragement and sharing incredible business analysis insights on the podcasts. […]

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