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Forming a BA Community at AO, by Lead Business Analyst and AO’er Darren.

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We’ve been on a journey for the past few years as a company and as a Business Analysis function. Over the past five years the number of BA’s we have here at AO has grown from a team of two to fourteen across our logistics and retail departments. This has been a massive change but it has also allowed us to support the company more effectively and at a greater breadth. Our team are domain aligned and able to influence a large amount of change in the business.

Are we a team – yes or no?

A big part of our journey as a team was establishing if we were in fact that! In November 2016 we felt like a group of people who did the same role but weren’ really a team. This is mainly due to us being in separate sites and a bigger focus on the wider projects team. There is another side to this around the difference between a team and a community (we’ll save that for another post)


In February 2017 we held our first BA retrospective. The purpose was simple, let’s try it and if it works great, if it doesn’ then we’ll no doubt learn something and have the knowledge that we tried something. The first one was a success, it enabled us to talk open and honestly about; what was going well, not so well and what we could do resolve the issues we had. A key finding was, regardless of if you’re based in Crewe or Horwich our BAs were experiencing similar issues. If we didn’ have this forum then those pains wouldn’ be aired and we’d be trying to fix them in silo. We encourage feedback within the sanctity of the retro safe in the knowledge we do it with the aim of improving as a team and function. Our biggest take away was – let’s do this again!

Continuous Improvement

As part of our retro actions, we created a simple Trello board (I love Trello as it keeps everything simple!) to store the actions and assign them to people in the team with due dates J This board has quickly evolved into a resource board where we put; interesting reads, events, training and tools.



The Evolution

The sessions soon evolved in terms of structure and content, up till now we’ve had 5 BA Retros. It’s important that everyone feels part of the team and able to participate. We rotate the facilitators around the team so that we don’ rely on certain team members. Each facilitator keeps to the rough format of;

  • Warm up game (the interview game has been my favourite)
  • Review past actions
  • Retro
  • Team lunch
  • Team activity

We also go off site to our Manchester office as the chance to get distracted is much less.

Next steps

As a team we are looking to improve, we did the team canvas activity and are looking at refining that. We are also looking at how we can improve internal processes across IT and the wider department. Exciting times! ?

Darren, Lead Business Analyst at