Agile projects require continuous analysis

Agile working

Written by Lynda Girvan, Lead Agile Business Analyst at CMC Partnership

Too many agile projects fail to analyse the problem they are trying to solve because they feel analysis takes too long. All too often the decision to introduce IT is taken by well-meaning senior managers who fail to see the need for analysis or understand the problem they are trying to solve with IT.  Once the problem has been assigned to the IT department analysis can be side-lined in favour of development work and technical solution. If you give the problem to IT to solve, then they are going to look to IT to solve it!

“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail”. Abraham Maslow 1966

While this is always well intended, the decisions taken can often fall short of the projected outcomes for the project and after a few months the project attempts to deliver anything, rather than deliver nothing.

Analysis is needed but it needs to be done iteratively and continuously

Agile teams recognise the need for continuous integration and test environments, many now turning to Devops to ease the flow of transitioning and integrating software into the live environments. We also need to apply continuous analysis if we are to understand what a project is trying to achieve? What problem is the project or software trying to solve?

Continuous analysis is the ability to analyse just enough just in time to prove or disprove assumptions. After all, we are only really guessing at the beginning of a project anyway. Nobody really knows whether the project or the software will solve the problem or not? Nobody can be sure whether the requirements are right or wrong until the requirements, or stories, have been delivered and feedback is obtained.

Continuous analysis sketch

Figure 1 – Continuous analysis

Personally, I would love to lose the term ‘requirements’ preferring instead to think of them as ideas and concepts. When doing continuous analysis, it is important to do just enough early analysis to understand what ideas and concepts might be the most important ones to prove or disprove first. Continuous analysis is an iterative process that must continue until the ides or concepts are small enough to be developed within a 2-4 week period.

What we can be sure of is that continuous analysis at the beginning, and throughout, a project is essential if we are to deliver solutions that the customers deem to be of value. Continuous analysis requires those with an ability to analyse, dig for information, question why and do it all with an agile approach and mind-set.

This article was originally published here and was reposted with permission.


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