💥 Product Owner vs. Business Analyst 💥Apr 04, 2022
One of the critical stages in the software development process is gathering and analysing requirements. To create an effective solution that adds value to the business, you need a well-defined problem and clear requirements.
In this requirements-gathering and analysis process, the two key players are:
👉 The Product Owner
👉 The Business Analyst
What do these two roles demand in the context of Agile development❓
👉 The Product Owner
The roles of a Product Owner are quite different from those of a Business Analyst even though they have many skills in common.
The Product Owner’s role originated on Scrum but is often used in other Agile approaches. The Product Owner has a vision of the product keeping the domain/industry experience and the market need. Their job is to ensure that the product meets the market and stakeholder needs; they conduct market analysis followed by an enterprise SWOT analysis to come up with the product vision.
This role also gives an advantage to the PO’s knowledge of the following:
✔️ The product
✔️ The business
✔️ The industry
✔️ Information gathered through direct customer contact.
The PO also works on the go-to-market strategy for the product. The PO tries to leverage their experience in the domain, need of the market, the industry or the domain, the organization's market position, and the customer expectation of the product.
The 7 primary activities of a Product Owner:
- Enterprise Analysis 📈
- SWOT analysis
- Due diligence on the market opportunity
- Product offering decision based on the due diligence report
- Defining the Vision 🔭
The Product Owner owns a high-level view of where the complete product will be over the next few years, the entire roadmap. The primary role of the Product Owner is to interact and collaborate with the users to understand their requirements, therefore, to ensure the user’s expectations are met the PO must translate the product into a form that the development can clearly envision.
- Product Backlog Management 🗎
Managing the product backlog is the PO’s most essential responsibility to maximize the value of the end product. To make release and iteration planning easier, a well-prioritized Agile backlog is needed which also broadcasts all the items the team intends to spend time on, including internal work that the customer will not notice.
- Needs Prioritization 🔝
It is important to regularly maintain the product backlog to keep pace with the program once it is built. The backlog should also be reviewed by the Product Owner before each iteration has been incorporated. Work in the backlog can be reprioritized by the Product Owner at any time due to customer feedback, refined estimates, or new requirements if those changes are well thought out so as not to disrupt the development team and affect focus.
- Overseeing Development Stages 🔍
Product Owners are key players and overseers in every stage of product development including:
The Agile Product Owner works with stakeholders to identify and organise the steps required for the next iteration during the planning stages. Refining the process, identifying the areas for improvement, and supporting the sprint will then require a meeting with their team.
- Client Needs Anticipation 🧐
This enables the Product Owners to manage the development process more effectively. In-depth knowledge of the market and understanding the competition clearly as well as the users’ pain points helps to determine what features should be implemented, pinning down the items that customers want but are not able to visualise or ask for themselves.
- Product Progress Evaluation at Each Iteration 💻
The Product Owner is accountable for:
- Each stage of the development process
- The final product
- Evaluating progress
- Evaluating performance
- Deciding whether the team can advance to the next step
- Analysing the market
- Go to market strategy
- Marketing messaging/communications
- Channels of marketing
- Modes of advertising
👉 The Business Analyst
Business Analysts (BA) are the change-makers, problem solvers, questioners, facilitators, investigators, and fact checkers; they find gaps and perform traceability and impact analysis, working closely with Product Owners to determine the scope of the project and establish the requirements and standards the project must meet, the bridge between the users/stakeholders and the Agile team. They work closely with the Product Owners to manage the user stories and epics. A high-performing Business Analysis professional on the team increases the likelihood that the resulting product will effectively meet true business needs and fit in well with the current business environment.
The 5 primary activities of a Business Analyst:
- Elicitation of Research & Requirements 🗃️
The BA has software requirements and design/solution experience while the PO has subject matter knowledge. A BA should give day-to-day support in requirements clarifications and business rules and should also coordinate with the development team to get the stories developed. The BA can help ensure the right questions are asked, and the PO can work with the project team to provide answers and make decisions.
The Business Analyst brings good product and systems understanding and may advise the PO on:
✔️ Requirement’s analysis
✔️ Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
✔️ User stories
✔️ Prioritisation to bring more value to end-users.
- Requirements Documentation 🗎
Documenting requirements formally or informally depending on the need of the project. For example, the BA may be tasked with creating the requirements in the form of user stories with appropriate acceptance criteria.
If the PO has already created the user stories with acceptance criteria, then the BA is responsible for reviewing them to make sure that:
- Every business rule is covered
- The acceptance criteria meet the user story functionality.
- Requirements Management and Communication 🗣
BAs are representatives of the PO in the Agile team in clarifying questions and issues, and they provide everyday requirements and solutions support to the Scrum team during sprints, and may step in when the PO isn’t immediately available. The BA guides the team, partnering with the PO to communicate the product vision and helping the development team understand the requirements, flow, complexity, and dependencies.
- Impact Analysis for Changes 📈
Business Analysts maintain the traceability matrix and dependencies, and are also responsible for components mapping and to perform impact analysis for suggested changes.
- Solution Assessment and Validation 💡
To review the software as it develops, a Business Analyst can work with project stakeholders. A BA can also aid in ensuring that the project meets all the specified requirements by doing walkthroughs, play acting, and other testing activities.
Every organization does things differently, and the lines are often blurred like most aspects of software development. The problems and solutions we tackle in today’s software and technology-driven world are extremely complicated thus we believe that close collaboration between the Product Owner and the Business Analysts yields the best results. These types of complex projects require both the business experience and the technical expertise to develop the correct solutions.
Product Owners and Business Analysts interact frequently during a software development project so there is indeed a fair amount of overlap of skills and responsibilities between these two roles. Experience shows that sometimes BAs may take over responsibilities of POs, or vice-versa, the POs may be so immersed in a project that the role of BA becomes redundant.
As the name indicates, a Product Owner works like an owner of the product, envisioning almost every detail of the product and how to make it market ready.
It is common practice for the PO, besides managing the backlog, to manage requirement collection from other stakeholders. The PO may help the team obtain access to experts in subject matters in which the team doesn’t already have sufficient expertise. The PO might also assume responsibility for budgeting, sponsorship, and advocacy of the project. On the other hand, the Business Analyst gives colour to the vision and makes it a reality.
In defining roles and expectations, it is essential to keep in mind team members’ personality traits and soft skills. It is always easier to work with Business Analysts and Product Owners who are willing to brainstorm and collaborate than it is to work with a genius who has no teamwork skills. Good collaboration or teamwork is like a happy marriage where things run smoothly, the needs are taken care of without stressing about it, and happiness is delivered. Experience proves time and time again that communication is of utmost importance in a team - even coming ahead of area-specific knowledge and individual professional skills. The same thing applies in an Agile team, between the PO and the BA role. They are required to work closely to push it to a successful release to the market.
📌 To summarize, the Product Owner manages the “big picture” of the market expectations and the product. The Business Analyst manages the close monitoring and executions of the sprint, thereby delivering great products and building winning teams. The result is a winning product and a happy and successful agile team!
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