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Three amigos at the DWP Digital Academy

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The three amigos (Alan, Caroline and Alias)

My colleagues and I (Caroline Bolt and Alias Khan) recently went to a three day “Digital Business Analysis” course. This is run by the cross-government Digital Academy at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in Leeds.

DWP is rolling out major digital services to citizens across the country based on an agile delivery process and is sharing its expertise.

This was a great opportunity for us to strengthen our understanding of the role of business analysts in the agile digital delivery world. We had a chance to meet representatives of the important roles in a digital project and discuss how they work with business analysts.

The three amigos approach

Product owners explained how they relied on the business analyst to explore the detail of their vision for the product, support their decision making and create user stories to reflect that vision accurately. The business analysts are then the contact with the developers and testers.

Developers and quality assurance (QA) testers talked about the “three amigos” approach. This is where the business analyst brings their user story and walks through it with the developer and QA tester. Together they refine the detail of the story and acceptance criteria to help the developer and tester create the feature. The conversation between the "three amigos" is key to this! We were also reminded not to specify the solution in advance. Watch the DWP’s video on the three amigos process or read the how the Scrum Alliance uses this approach for more information.

We met a user researcher to get a better understanding of the role. She often had a business analyst assisting in user interviews. We learnt not to disrupt the interview by ill-judged interjections – silence is the rule!

We also practiced writing good user stories and acceptance criteria, splitting larger stories and writing acceptance criteria and test scenarios in Gherkin. Gherkin is a testing language which asks “given that something is the case, when I do something else, then this thing and this thing happen”. We then explored how to produce a story map to get an overview of the whole process.

We also met a delivery manager, who emphasised how he relied on the business analyst to work with the product owner and the developers to make sure the right thing is built.

Overall it was an excellent experience understanding how a successful digital team delivers major systems used by citizens all over the country.

Many thanks to our hosts at DWP Digital Academy for having us.

PDS expects to be recruiting more business analysts soon so keep an eye on our recruitment page for more details

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