Absolutely, a great one, but under some conditions.
First we need to answer what is a BA and what do they do? What are their skill set that is important to transition to a scrum master role, and finally, what is it they usually need to work on to become great scrum masters.
In short, they are an understanding and learning experts, they need to know what is needed, what is happening, and how to bridge the difference. A good BA doesn’t simple collect requirements, but digs deep, challenges the status quo and creates a shared understanding among stakeholders.
A great BA is an excellent communicator, he needs to grasp situations and act quickly, understand the business and its challenges and be able to explain complex concepts and needs to rally change. There exists a great divide between management and line workers, I witnessed this first hand and later learned it has a name for it “The frozen middle.” I had to give executive leadership a pause when they make requests and explain the importance of listening to others while managing the time demand. On the other hand, when I talked to employees, asking them about the business and explaining the vision, I had to assure them and relay to them the vision and goal of the initiatives.
A Great BA is an excellent facilitator, working to create a shared understanding. As I use numerous tools and frameworks to breakdown problems, I don’t have the answer but have to dig it up from the group. I remember in many events, just putting the problem on a diagram on a white board, stops many arguments on the same side. Not only that, people engage in their problem solving mode instead of defense and agenda mode, which enabled me get more agreements and better discussions than if left to the unstructured natures of normal dialogue.
A Great BA is an excellent adviser for business, working with the business owners to understand their problems, research solutions and dig deep to what the real challenges are. Working as a BA in the software development department, we usually sit with stakeholders who give us requirements for an application, what it should do and how it should look like, but I dig deeper and ask why they need it, I would barrow Simon Sink (Start with Why) and we usually realize, it is not a software what we need usually, at least not right now, we would create SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and process optimization before we even engage the developers.
A BA, however, does not usually focus on the team. My biggest challenge in the transition was taking the step back and not giving answers immediately. I am working on my leadership skills to be the last to speak and focus on the team dynamics instead of the problem at hand directly.
If BA’s believes the tools they are using are creating perfect answers instead of a starting point so people can start the discussion, they will struggle with scrum and agile as a whole. There are no perfect answers, especially in the increasing rate of complexity we are working in. And if it was, a BA or even a scrum master will not be needed.
For the sake of comprehensiveness, I have to talk about removing impediments, which is not a skill but requires multiple skills and can be expanded upon later. Identifying business impediments to work is a major role a BA plays. However, this is not enough for a scrum master, since impediments can come from any source and requires influence and persistence to solve them internally or externally. BA’s with high initiative spirit, problem solving and influencing skills will also transition easily to remove impediments because they already do in practice.
Finally, this all transitions to a scrum master who needs to be an excellent communicatorand focus on the teams’ communication, he needs to facilitate discussion and address difficult problems and navigate through difficult conversations, and needs to support the product owners to better understand their problems and prioritize what the need done. A BA has to remember that he is not giving answers, but enabling the team to find their own.