Software architect involvement in business analysis for waterfall development

Should we involve architects in business analysis in an organization which does waterfall development?

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The short but heartfelt answer is YES! Involve your architects early and often, and also involve leads from your data management, testing and development teams

Often, business analysis in waterfall organizations is conducted in isolation from those responsible for architecture, design, development and testing. Then, typically, specification documentation is handed off to the downstream teams. 

Yet, if architects and other leads understand that they are invited as observers and early reviewers of the requirements analysis work, your organization will realize important business benefits:

  • When architects and other leads understand the business context of requirements, they can make better choices about how to design the optimum solution.
  • The demarcation between business and technology is often blurry. People in business areas may already be thinking ahead to specific structures or technologies that will provide a solution to their needs. These solutions may be good, but they may be redundant with capabilities you already have. Or they may produce unintended consequences or mask an insufficient understanding of the real business need. And sometimes, business personnel may not be aware of new technological capabilities that may be an even better fit. When you include architects in requirements analysis, they can help inform business people about the pros and cons of their technical choices.
  • Good requirements are testable. By having testers involved in analysis, you add the expertise of verifying that the requirements are testable. And when testers understand the business context, they can more efficiently develop good test cases.

So invite an architect -- and experts from the testing and data disciplines -- to your next scoping or analysis session. You won’t regret it!

This was first published in January 2011

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