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The Agile Business Analyst: Moving from Waterfall to Agile Paperback – July 25, 2015
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About the Author
Ryland Leyton, CBAP, PMP, is a business analyst, speaker, educator, Agile coach, and technology translator. He has worked in the technology sector since 1998, starting off with database and web programming, gradually moving through project management and finding his passion in the BA field. Ryland is passionate about strong analysis practice and prefers Agile environments where possible. He has built both Agile and waterfall SDLC processes for development teams, customizing each one to the challenges facing that particular client group. His early experiences as a developer have been advantageous when serving as the bridge between business and technology groups. He is well positioned to understand the needs of disparate teams all striving to ensure business success from their own point of view. He is an active member of the Atlanta Chapter of the IIBA, speaks at local and national conferences, and serves as an Agile coach and educator. Recently, Ryland has extended his hobby of improv comedy to create distinctive learning experiences for teambuilding, Agile, and BA professional development.
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Top Customer Reviews
As an Atlanta-based BA, I have seen Ryland Leyton, the author of The Agile Business Analyst, present on the topic before. His trainings at the local IIBA are among the best-attended, due to the richness of his content.
Needless to say, expectations for his new book are quite high. Having completed a first read, I will predict that this book will greatly impact the larger Business Analyst community in the years ahead.
For those transitioning to Agile, the chapters that provide two cases studies will be of particular interest. The first covers a BA’s work on a Waterfall project, while the second tracks the same project if using Agile practices. The two case studies are then compared, which alone makes this book essential reading for BAs.
For those already experienced with Agile, there is enough food for thought here regarding the pain points that most teams face: date-driven vs. feature-driven releases, story decomposition, what is “enough,” and the BA’s relation to the other roles on the team. A pleasant surprise is the perspective about working within Matrix-ed organizations and its inherent challenges.
A book like this could have aimed to be The Ultimate Authority, such as Software Requirements by Karl Wiegers and Joy Beatty -- an all-encompassing work that aims to be the canon. The opposite would have been to be an excellent reference guide, such as the Software Requirements Memory Jogger by Ellen Gottesdiener.
Instead, this book aims for practicality over perfection, and succeeds in hitting the “sweet spot” of good business writing: 1) Covering vast territory, while providing enough depth to be useful to a practitioner, and 2) keeping the material grounded enough for different audience levels to follow. (Think Seven Steps to Mastering Business Analysis by Barbara Carkenord).
The one area that warranted more coverage in this book is “Sprint Zero.” Although briefly mentioned, the concept continues to have very little written about it in Agile communities (and happens to be greatly impacted by the work of BAs). Also, the chapter on “Common Business Analysis Techniques That Work in Agile” deserves to grow into its own book.
All nitpicking aside, this is a practical and timely book which belongs on a short list of “Essential Reading for Early-Career BAs.” Add Mr. Leyton’s work to the group which includes Discover to Deliver, User Stories Applied, and Seven Steps to Mastering Business Analysis. He succeeds in delivering a great Minimum Viable Product -- a guide for BAs who need to start sprinting in Agile quickly.
His tips on story decomposition are very helpful, but I'd say his notion of Epic to Feature to User seems a bit out of alignment with some of the freely available online resources who tout Theme to Epic to User Story. I'm not sure if there is really difference between the two, or if it's just a different way to say the same thing, but it's worth pointing out.
There are very helpful examples on story card writing, acceptance criteria, and even a case study in the back on a project delivered via waterfall vs the same requirements delivered in Agile.
We pass my copy of this book around freely in our group, it's a go to resource for the whole team who is trying to adapt to Agile in a Waterfall shop. I keep close tabs on this books whereabouts, because I don't want it to vanish into someone's tote bag, never to be seen again.
His webinars on the IIBA website are very helpful too.
The information design and architecture of this engagingly instructional book are flawless. When they’re done right in an academic guidebook, these are the kinds of factors that become “invisible” --- a casual reader might not even notice, at least consciously, how effective the presentation is. But we’ve all seen the opposite scenario, where smooth education is roadblocked by a clunky interface, confusing information hierarchy, or distractingly bad writing. You’ll find none of those weaknesses here.
Mr. Leyton was already well-known in the BA and Agile environment before "The Agile Business Analyst" was published. With this book he brings his expertise onto a national stage. Take advantage of the opportunity to strengthen your own understanding and, with Leyton’s skillful mentoring, become more than just "another smart guy in a room asking questions about technology." “The Agile Business Analyst” is philosophical, it’s practical, it’s eminently valuable in a thousand ways. Highly recommended.