To meet the needs of modern-day customers and keep up with the fast pace of technology, businesses have started to embrace Agile software development principles, which embody the concept of the collaborative effort of self-organizing and cross-functional teams. The Agile philosophy does not however, specifically touch on the role of business analysts. This is particularly the case with Scrum, a popular team-based framework for solving complex problems, which defines only three roles: the scrum master, the product owner, and the development team members.
Can Business Analysts Be Scrum Masters Or Product Owners?
Given the limited number of roles defined by Scrum, it’s understandable that many business analysts wonder if it’s possible for them to become scrum masters or product owners. To find the right answer, we need to understand what scrum masters and product owners do and what their responsibilities are.
According to Stephanie Vineyard, “The Scrum Master focuses on the team and how to continuously improve.” He acts as a servant leader, helping the team and the organization make the best use of Scrum, adds David Baker. All scrum masters must have excellent verbal and non-verbal communication skills, facilitation skills, as well as negotiation skills. As evident from the definition of the scrum master, its role is different from the role of the business analyst. The scrum master keeps a sharp focus on the team, whereas the business analyst focuses primarily on customers’ needs and how they align with the needs of stakeholders.
Just like the business analyst, the product owner is responsible for deciding what work will be done, but only within the scope of a single project. Most business analysts work across several products at once, which gives them a very thorough understanding of the business and its customers. Even though the two roles slightly overlap, their responsibilities are distinct. “While the business analyst will help formulate the product vision, it’s the product owner that takes ownership for this vision and is accountable to the business for getting the product out of the door,” says Simon Bates.
Cooperation Is The Answer
Possibly the best way to leverage the ability of business analysts in an Agile development environment, such as Scrum, is to have the business analyst assist the product owner. Using their thorough understanding of the business and its customers, the business analyst can elicit requirements by managing relationships with stakeholders; provide guidance on what needs to be done first; and ensure that what is done actually aligns with the wider business strategy and vision.