This has come up in various discussions recently and I want to put down my thoughts about the role and responsibilities.
For a ThoughtWorks team in India (or China) most of the work is offshore agile development. Clients are usually in the UK or the USA. The team is structured as follows:
- Offshore PM
- Offshore Devs
- Offshore QA(s)
- Offshore BA(s)
- Onsite BA(s)
This is how the communication works.
Of course there are other exchanges that take place but the Business Q & A and the Technical Q & A are the most important pieces of concrete information exchanged.
Other companies, even traditional development outfits, have a role called the Onsite co-ordinator. I believe this role facilitates similar discussions (although I hear that they are more technical than business related)
The onsite business analyst’s main role is to facilitate business and technical discussions between the team sitting offshore and the client. She is not restricted to be just an onsite co-ordinator. She can take up a new stream to analyze by herself. Even feed it to an onsite development team, if there is one. But all this keeping in mind that the main purpose is bridging the communication gap between the client and the development team.
At the same time the onsite business analyst shouldn’t go overboard with this and become a single point of failure. The direct communication lines between the offshore team and client should always be open.
I agree with you on the importance of onsite BA or onsite co-ordinators role. In my project we dont have any onsite presence due to budget constraints. We directly talk to clients on all the issues (Business and technical)but somehow i feel it is not as effective as having a oniste BA out their who can communicate the issues to the client. What do you think we can do to make the communication channel much more effective?
Nothing beats being on site. When I worked for Wal-Mart my relationship with my Development team improved exponentially when I went out to the US and spent a week with them.
In terms of facing into the Business, being on site means you can talk to someone over coffee, and build up a relationship. You can stop by someones desk and share ideas on paper, or on a whiteboard. I know that you can do similar with technology, but it’s much easier, and I believe beneficial, doing these things face to face.
The benefits of BAs working on site are numerous. Having BAs available opens up the lines of communication and can help with project efficiency, problem solving and even problem prevention.
Good to see that it is being discussed more as many firms still haven’t tapped in to these benefits.