Case Study: Agile Analysis: A Proposition Assessment Case Study

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Agile Analysis: A Proposition Assessment Case Study

Luke Barrett, Senior Business Analyst, Thoughtworks


While the benefits of taking an Agile approach to the heart of the software development cycle are becoming increasingly recognised, this people-centric, communication-oriented, test-driven way of working is also powerful in helping teams and organisations early in the evolution of a idea or proposition.

In this case study we look at applying an Agile way of working to the analysis of a new business idea at its inception – this includes the creation and iteration of key deliverables (financial model, project roadmap, core processes and usage scenarios) to allow a go / no-go decision.


What is role of business analyst in an agile organisation?

Agile values of simplicity, openness, communication, courage…

Apply agile software approach to evaluating business propositions.

Project – a new business idea which the owner wants to get funding for…

New business idea – challenge to validate within limited time and funds. e.g. what could be done in a week?

Objective – Prepare a Pitch, based on a clearer definition of the proposition, e.g.: financial model, key processes and goals, capacity model, customer scenarios, development roadmap for the business.

Small team – two consultants plus client.

1 week – each day based on two Action-Reflection cycles – 2 hr workshop, consolidate, 2 hr workshop, consolidation.

Keep it self-documenting

Models: traditionally use lots words of words to drive out ambiguity – but words are slippery! Important to facilitate a feedback-driven iteration towards consensus of the stakeholders. Use lots of visual models.

  1. Started with finances – costs, revenues… A very quick ballpark analysis. Over the 5 days about 1.5 days on this.
  2. Processes, roles and goals – the core of what the business does. Imagine a “day in the life”.
  3. Capacity model – what resources needed to deliver the service?
  4. Service development roadmap – how does the business grow?
  5. Customer scenarios – what will it be like for a customer to use the service? Lots of Post-Its and pictures!

Put client in position to pitch to prospective investors and customers with supporting information, and brought to life with the scenarios.

The output had a positive reception!

Co-location of the team was vital – and if you aren’t, you can’t have a virtual beer together! (relationships vital).

Importance of dedicated time, dedicated effort / resources. “the heartbeat of feedback”

Proactive application of technology to business

My interests include technology, personal knowledge management, social change