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Re: [agile-usability] New Member Intro

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  • Faith Peterson
    ... ... work well.... Or at all, one might venture to say. What follows comes out of my experience. I m sure others can share success stories. As far as
    Message 1 of 13 , Dec 6, 2007
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      On Dec 6, 2007 8:09 AM, Anthony Viviano <anthony.viviano@...> wrote:

      > It's coming from our business analysts mostly. A lot of our projects are
      > stalled or stuck in requirements gathering phases and are
      > slow to move on to development.
       <snip>
      > My concern is that Agile takes a lot of buy in from the top down to really work well....

      Or at all, one might venture to say. What follows comes out of my experience. I'm sure others can share success stories.

      As far as I have been able to tell, Agile doesn't seem well-suited to solve problems in business analysis. There are a number of reasons why BA work either is slow or is seen as slow. Few are susceptible to repair by introducing Agile methods. I say this as an experienced, CSM-trained, business analyst who spends a fair amount of time reflecting on the nature of this work. Feel free to contact me off-list to discuss, as much of what's wrong with the BA role is not directly related to this list's core topic.

      I can't tell from your note if it's the BAs themselves who are pushing for Agile, or if it's management, sensitive to outcomes, who are frustrated at the pace of software delivery. There are Agile proponents who would argue that there's no room for BAs in Agile - that they should either come into development and become specializing generalists on the technical side, or that they should move to the product side. There's a lot to that but it's often a very threatening message for BAs. It's also not really feasible in every situation.

      None of that relates to the role of usability professionals in Agile - a while ago Jeff commented on including usability concerns in user stories. I've had a lot of resistance to that from our developers - resistance to user stories at all, in fact, so much so that one influential developer insisted on taking the whole set, abstracting it into "use cases" that made sense to him, and imposing that abstraction on the project along with discarding the original user stories.

      In my (admittedly very limited) experience with Agile I'd say you have to have a strong management commitment. That commitment has to go beyond talk to an investment in training for all parts of the organization involved. I'd also recommend looking to hire an experienced CSM or engage an Agile coach. If it's to include BAs or other non-programming staff in a large organization it ultimately becomes a business process re-engineering effort of sorts. There's potential for a significant period of disruption few managers are stalwart enough to weather - in part because once it becomes evident that managers also have to change support for Agile (or any other process innovation) tends to evaportate.

      That said, I'm an advocate for Agile and am very interested in successful adoption stories. All of this goes more to Agile adoption and/or organizational dynamics than usability in Agile organizations, so I'd be happy to move the conversation off-list.
       
      Faith
      --
      Faith Peterson
      f.a.peterson@...
      IxDA | UPA | IAI | IIBA
    • Desilets, Alain
      ... Let me put on my list moderator hat and say that I think Business Analysis is definitely on topic. Usability and Business Analysis methods have a lot of
      Message 2 of 13 , Dec 6, 2007
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        > As far as I have been able to tell, Agile doesn't seem well-suited to solve problems in business analysis.
        > There are a number of reasons why BA work either is slow or is seen as slow. Few are susceptible to repair
        > by introducing Agile methods. I say this as an experienced, CSM-trained, business analyst who spends a fair
        > amount of time reflecting on the nature of this work. Feel free to contact me off-list to discuss, as much
        > of what's wrong with the BA role is not directly related to this list's core topic.

        Let me put on my list moderator hat and say that I think Business Analysis is definitely on topic.

        Usability and Business Analysis methods have a lot of synergy, because both of them are about figuring out the right thing to build.

        I see Usability methods as helping us figure out what people will USE, and Business Analysis methods as helping us figure out what people will BUY or what will MAKE MONEY for the organisation paying for development upfront.

        Please tell us more about your experience with BA methods, and why you think BA is not amenable to being agilized.

        This is something I have been wanting to learn more about for a long time.

        Alain Désilets
        Moderator
      • Marji Dainty
        Hello - The role of the Business Analyst in an Agile environment has been one of much interest with my peers of late. In fact, it is largely my inspiration
        Message 3 of 13 , Dec 6, 2007
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          Hello -

          The role of the Business Analyst in an Agile environment has been one of much interest with my peers of late.  In fact, it is largely my inspiration for joining this discussion group.  I have not experienced a perception of slowness with respect to my work, but I have learned to conquer some Agile challenges.

          Depending on the environment and the way Agility is approached, there can be many challenges to the BA.

          Agility encourages flexibility.  This is good.  This is why we like it so much.  It provides for a more organic style of development, keeping things fresh and maintaining the excitement of the design process throughout the development cycles.  Personally, I enjoy that tremendously.  My favorite part of the development process is getting a group of passionate problem solvers into a room and wrestling with ideas.  Certainly AUP does not hold the monopoly on design enthusiasm, but it does do a nice job of keeping that fire burning.

          This benefit presents a couple of challenges to the BA. 

          First, it encourages change.  Well-managed change is good, but it is so easy for change to get out of control.  With every change there are additional meetings required and documents to maintain.  Client meetings to discuss the changes require additional time.  (Getting all the right people in a room at one time with so many busy schedules can be a job in itself!)  Documents must be updated which requires additional time.  This doesn't have to be slow, but the developers are excited and want to get going.  Any pause can seem tremendous to them.

          Second, The BA must be Agile while clients make requests more in line with RUP.  There is a very different thought process in Agility, a sort of "Small Picture" thinking.  This is not how the clients want to think.  Generally, clients want to tell you what they need all at once in an overall vision.  They want to see the entire system, start to finish, sign-off on that design, and get on with their own work.  We must coax clients into embracing 'the process' and encourage them to remain enthusiastic about it.  This can be done, for sure, but it is an art in psychology at times.

          Lastly, the BA must be Agile, while the mind often wishes to be RUP.  This was a personal challenge that I have faced, and it may or may not have been the experience of others.  But in growing in tune with my current team, I have had to learn to juggle these two thought processes.  My mind wants the Big Picture.  I crave it. I can grasp the details of a large system very easily and break it up elegantly into bit-size iterations.  Great for RUP, very different for Agility.  But is it?  Agility just means having a Big Picture and defining each bite, one at a time.  That is fine.  So, now what I do is have a Big Picture, break it up into bite-sized chunks, and reveal them to the team one at a time.  To protect my sanity I must remain flexible and not get attached to the iterations.  Attachment is the enemy of Agility.

          Overall, I would say that Agility and RUP are more similar than different.  They just seem to have ordered their tasks differently.  If you consider the analogy of a novel, then RUP gives you all the chapters at once (even though you can only read them one at a time), while Agility writes one chapter at a time.  So what.  In the end, you still have a story.

          - Marji Dainty, BA, IA






          On Dec 6, 2007 9:57 AM, Desilets, Alain <alain.desilets@...> wrote:

          > As far as I have been able to tell, Agile doesn't seem well-suited to solve problems in business analysis.
          > There are a number of reasons why BA work either is slow or is seen as slow. Few are susceptible to repair
          > by introducing Agile methods. I say this as an experienced, CSM-trained, business analyst who spends a fair
          > amount of time reflecting on the nature of this work. Feel free to contact me off-list to discuss, as much
          > of what's wrong with the BA role is not directly related to this list's core topic.

          Let me put on my list moderator hat and say that I think Business Analysis is definitely on topic.

          Usability and Business Analysis methods have a lot of synergy, because both of them are about figuring out the right thing to build.

          I see Usability methods as helping us figure out what people will USE, and Business Analysis methods as helping us figure out what people will BUY or what will MAKE MONEY for the organisation paying for development upfront.

          Please tell us more about your experience with BA methods, and why you think BA is not amenable to being agilized.

          This is something I have been wanting to learn more about for a long time.

          Alain Désilets
          Moderator



          --
          Faith is reason grown courageous.

          - Sherwood Eddy
        • George Dinwiddie
          ... Not necessarily. It does take a lot of cooperation between the players. In many cases, getting that cooperation may depend on acceptance of Agile at high
          Message 4 of 13 , Dec 6, 2007
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            Anthony Viviano wrote:
            > My concern is that Agile takes a lot of buy in from the top down to
            > really work well....

            Not necessarily. It does take a lot of cooperation between the players.
            In many cases, getting that cooperation may depend on acceptance of
            Agile at high levels of the organization. In other cases people feel
            comfortable to try it within their own sphere of influence.

            - George

            --
            ----------------------------------------------------------------------
            * George Dinwiddie * http://blog.gdinwiddie.com
            Software Development http://www.idiacomputing.com
            Consultant and Coach http://www.agilemaryland.org
            ----------------------------------------------------------------------
          • Sathya Pandalai
            QUOTE Marji Dainty wrote: I would say that Agility and RUP are more similar than different. They just seem to have ordered their tasks
            Message 5 of 13 , Dec 6, 2007
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              QUOTE
              Marji Dainty <mdainty@...> wrote:
              I would say that Agility and RUP are more similar than different.  They just seem to have ordered their tasks differently.  If you consider the analogy of a novel, then RUP gives you all the chapters at once (even though you can only read them one at a time), while Agility writes one chapter at a time.  So what.  In the end, you still have a story.
              ENDQUOTE
               
              Very well said indeed!!
               
              Sathya


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            • William Pietri
              ... Could you say more about why business analysts see that as threatening? One common fear I ve seen is that when people don t see an explicit role that
              Message 6 of 13 , Dec 6, 2007
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                Faith Peterson wrote:
                >
                > There are Agile proponents who would argue that there's no room for
                > BAs in Agile - that they should either come into development and
                > become specializing generalists on the technical side, or that they
                > should move to the product side. There's a lot to that but it's often
                > a very threatening message for BAs. It's also not really feasible in
                > every situation.
                >

                Could you say more about why business analysts see that as threatening?

                One common fear I've seen is that when people don't see an explicit role
                that matches their business card title, they get worried that they're
                going to be let go. Is that the threat that they perceive?

                In every agile transition I've done or seen, those people still have
                plenty to do, and it's generally more interesting stuff. Although most
                agilists I know don't value a lot of formality around roles and titles,
                they really value the people who have filled those roles, and all the
                knowledge and skill they've built up. So I get the fear, but I think
                it's worth working past.

                William



                --
                William Pietri - william@... - +1-415-643-1024
                Agile consulting, coaching, and development: http://www.scissor.com/
                Instant video gratification: http://www.sidereel.com/
              • Adrian Howard
                Hi Anthony, On 6 Dec 2007, at 14:09, Anthony Viviano wrote: [snip] ... What s slowing them down (again with the curiosity :-) ? I m a great fan of the Apply
                Message 7 of 13 , Dec 7, 2007
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                  Hi Anthony,

                  On 6 Dec 2007, at 14:09, Anthony Viviano wrote:
                  [snip]
                  > It's coming from our business analysts mostly. A lot of our
                  > projects are
                  > stalled or stuck in requirements gathering phases and are slow to
                  > move on to
                  > development.

                  What's slowing them down (again with the curiosity :-) ?

                  I'm a great fan of the "Apply the practice most appropriate to the
                  thing causing you the most pain. Repeat." approach to introducing agile.

                  > Very frustrating for our developers and everyone really. I
                  > think they're looking for a way to move development forward.
                  > Management is
                  > sceptical at this point, so we're hoping for a few Agile wins
                  > before we push
                  > to transform the entire org.
                  >
                  > So, short answer ... we're looking to crank out stuff faster.
                  >
                  > My concern is that Agile takes a lot of buy in from the top down to
                  > really
                  > work well....
                  [snip]

                  I've seen agile come in from the bottom as well as from the top.
                  Although obviously if management are actively hostile you're gonna
                  have trouble. Sceptical you should hopefully be able to cope with.

                  I find it interesting that it's coming from the BAs. I've seen it
                  come from the developers dealing with technical tasks, and I've seen
                  it come in from management in search of lower costs. I've not seen it
                  from folk who would turn into, if we're thinking about XP, the
                  Customers.

                  I would imagine that it would work well - as long as the developers
                  are in to it too - since the convincing Customers is something I
                  often find hard. And you have that already.

                  Cheers,

                  Adrian
                • Adrian Howard
                  ... [snip] Indeed. There was one LargeCompany that I did some consulting for where the management told me that they hadn t started looking at agile yet at the
                  Message 8 of 13 , Dec 7, 2007
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                    On 6 Dec 2007, at 16:25, George Dinwiddie wrote:

                    > Anthony Viviano wrote:
                    >> My concern is that Agile takes a lot of buy in from the top down to
                    >> really work well....
                    >
                    > Not necessarily. It does take a lot of cooperation between the
                    > players.
                    > In many cases, getting that cooperation may depend on acceptance of
                    > Agile at high levels of the organization. In other cases people feel
                    > comfortable to try it within their own sphere of influence.
                    [snip]

                    Indeed.

                    There was one LargeCompany that I did some consulting for where the
                    management told me that they hadn't started looking at agile yet at
                    the same time the dev team was doing something that was pretty close
                    to XP :-)

                    Adrian
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