The world of business is always changing. New technologies, new competition, and a shifting marketplace all conspire to make the digital era a challenging time. To remain competitive, businesses must change their approach to stay relevant and successful.
An Agile way of working has almost completely revolutionized product development. Characterized by delivering value in short development cycles and establishing collaboration between team members, different teams, and different departments, Agile has helped many organizations thrive in highly competitive landscapes.
According to the 2021 State of Agile report, 94% of respondents said their organization had either fully or partially adopted Agile.
However, transitioning to Agile is not easy for any business, which is where Agile consultants come in.
In this article, we will explore what Agile consultants are and how you can utilize their expertise to help your company make a successful transition to Agile principles and practices.
What is an Agile consultant?
An Agile consultant is a professional who helps organizations implement the Agile methodology.
Agile consultants work with businesses to help them streamline their processes and procedures to better align with the Agile framework. This includes assisting businesses with product development, project management, and team collaboration.
Agile consultants also help businesses to adopt the right tools and technologies for their needs and guide them through the process of change management. In short, an Agile consultant is a professional who helps businesses make the transition to Agile principles smoothly and effectively.
Why work with an Agile consultant?
While you may know a thing or two about Agile, transforming your business to work in an Agile way is a huge undertaking. It’s not something that can be done overnight or without meticulous planning.
Challenges of transitioning to Agile
Here are the four most common challenges businesses face when transitioning to Agile:
1. Teams with inconsistent processes and practices
One of the biggest challenges when transitioning to Agile is getting all teams on board with the new way of working. Often, (in 46% of cases, according to the State of Agile report), teams from different departments – or even different teams from the same department – will have other processes and practices.
This can make it difficult to implement Agile principles across the board, as each team will need to be brought up to speed with the new way of working.
2. Organizational culture that does not align with Agile values
Agile is all about collaboration, transparency, and continuous improvement. In order for Agile to be successful in any organization, the company culture must align with these values.
However, many organizations have a corporate culture that is at odds with the collaborative and open nature of Agile. Instead of working together for the common good, employees are often siloed off into their own departments with little interaction with other teams.
This can make it difficult to implement Agile principles, as employees will need to be taught new ways of collaborating.
3. General resistance to change
It is human nature to resist change, even when that change is for the better. When transitioning to Agile, businesses will often find that employees are reluctant to let go of old ways of working that they are comfortable with.
Employees may also be worried about their jobs, as they may think that the transition to Agile will mean layoffs or restructuring. These fears can lead to a general resistance to change, which can make it difficult to implement Agile successfully.
4. Lack of understanding of what Agile entails
Many businesses want to transition to Agile without really understanding what it entails. They may have heard that Agile is successful for other companies and want to jump on the bandwagon without really knowing what they’re getting into.
However, Agile is not a silver bullet that will solve all of your business problems. It is a complex methodology that requires careful planning and execution in order to be successful.
If you don’t take the time to understand what Agile entails, you’re likely to find yourself struggling to implement it successfully.
Advantages of working with an Agile consultant
Now that we’ve covered the challenges of transitioning to Agile, let’s take a look at the advantages of working with an Agile consultant and what they can offer your business.
1. Experience and expertise with Agile
The most obvious advantage of working with an Agile consultant is that they bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the table.
Agile consultants have helped businesses of all sizes transition to Agile principles successfully. They understand the challenges that companies face and how to overcome them.
Working with an experienced Agile consultant will give you the best chance of success when transitioning to Agile.
When you’re in the midst of a transition, it can be difficult to take a step back and look at the situation objectively. This is where an Agile consultant can be extremely helpful.
Agile consultants are objective third parties who can offer an unbiased perspective on your transition. They can help you identify areas where you’re struggling and provide advice on how to overcome these challenges.
3. Agile education and training
It is not enough to hire an Agile consultant; you also need to ensure that your employees are properly educated and trained in Agile principles.
Fortunately, most Agile consultants offer education and training services as well. They can help get your employees up to speed on the basics of Agile and teach them how to apply these principles to their work.
4. Change management expertise
We described resistance to change as one of the biggest challenges businesses face when transitioning to Agile.
An Agile consultant can help you overcome this challenge by providing change management expertise. They will help you develop a plan to manage the transition and ensure that employees are on board with the changes.
5. Improved communication
Communication is essential for any business, but it’s especially important when transitioning to Agile. An Agile consultant can help improve communication within your organization by facilitating conversations between teams and departments.
They can also help you develop a communication plan to ensure everyone is on the same page throughout the transition.
6. Support during and after the transition
Transitioning to Agile is a complex process that can take months or even years to complete. An Agile consultant can provide support throughout the entire process, from planning to execution to post-implementation.
Additionally, many Agile consultants offer ongoing support after the transition is complete. This ensures that you have someone to turn to if you encounter any problems or need advice on improving your Agile implementation.
Types of Agile consulting services
Just like with any other type of consulting, there are a variety of Agile consulting services to choose from. The kind of service you need will depend on your specific goals and objectives.
Here are some of the most common types of Agile consulting services:
Agile at scale
The most well-known type of Agile consulting is Agile at scale. This type of service helps businesses transition to Agile principles on a large scale.
What does this mean?
The consultant will work with you to develop an Agile implementation plan that can be rolled out across your entire organization.
This type of service is ideal for businesses that want to transition a large number of employees to Agile principles.
Adopting Agile at scale can involve:
- Setting up cross-functional Agile teams.
- Implementing new processes and tools.
- Providing training and education to employees.
Bear in mind that, depending on the size and complexity of your organization, implementing Agile at scale can be long and complicated and could take anywhere from 3 to 5 years.
Team- or role-specific Agile
An alternative to Agile at scale is the team- or role-specific Agile. As the name suggests, this type of Agile consulting focuses on helping a specific team or department transition to Agile principles.
For example, you might hire an Agile consultant to help your marketing team adopt Agile methods. Or you could hire a consultant to work with your software development team to help them transition to Agile.
Some of the common services offered by team-specific Agile consultants include:
- Business value consulting – This type of service helps businesses identify and prioritize the Agile features that will have the biggest impact on their bottom line.
- Product owner coaching – A product owner is a key member of an Agile team who is responsible for representing the interests of the business. A consultant can help coach your product owners and ensure that they are effectively performing their role, such as setting up the product backlog, carrying out product demos, and similar.
- Scrum Master training – Scrum Masters are part of the Scrum Agile methodology. They are responsible for facilitating Agile sprints and ensuring that teams are adhering to the Scrum process. A consultant can provide training to your Scrum Masters to help them effectively carry out their role.
- Leadership education – We’ve established that transitioning to Agile without senior management’s support can be difficult (or near impossible). A consultant can provide education and training to your leaders so that they understand the importance of Agile and are better equipped to support the transition.
- Developing Release Train Engineers – Just like Scrum Masters are responsible for overseeing Scrum sprints, in another Agile methodology known as SAFe, Release Train Engineers (RTEs) are responsible for overseeing the entire Agile release process. A consultant can provide training to your RTEs so that they can perform their duties effectively.
- DevSecOps adoption – DevSecOps is a set of practices that combines product development, security, and business operations. Implementing DevSecOps can help businesses increase their speed and agility while maintaining security. A consultant can help you adopt DevOps practices within your organization.
These are just some of the most common types of Agile consulting services. When choosing a consultant, be sure to ask about the specific services they offer and how they might be able to help your business achieve its goals.
Suppose you are not interested in a complete Agile at scale transformation but want to implement Agile on a smaller scale within your organization. In that case, team-specific Agile consulting might be the right choice.
Does my business need an Agile consultant?
Now that we’ve gone over what Agile consulting is and some of the services that consultants offer, you might be wondering if your business actually needs an Agile consultant.
The truth is, there is no universal answer to this question. It really depends on your specific circumstances.
Some businesses might benefit from working with an Agile consultant, while others might be better off going it alone or working with an internal team.
Here are some factors to consider when making the decision:
- Your business goals – One of the first things you’ll want to consider is what your business goals are. If you want to increase your speed and agility, working with an Agile consultant could be a good idea.
- Your team’s level of experience – Another thing to consider is the level of expertise that your team has with Agile principles. If your team is already well-versed in Agile, you might not need to hire a consultant. However, if your team is new to Agile or could use some help getting up to speed, then working with a consultant might be a good idea.
- Your budget – Working with an Agile consultant can be expensive. If you’re on a tight budget, then you might want to consider other options, such as going it alone or working with an internal team.
- The size of your organization – The size of your organization is another important factor to consider. Working with an Agile consultant can be helpful for large organizations that are looking to implement Agile on an enterprise-wide scale. However, if you’re a small business or only looking to implement Agile within a single team, then working with an internal team might be a better option.
If you’re still unsure whether or not working with an Agile consultant is right for your business, we suggest talking to a few different consultants to get their opinion. They’ll be able to assess your situation and give you their professional recommendation.
Choosing the right Agile consultant
If you’ve decided that working with an Agile consultant is right for your business, then the next step is to choose the right consultant.
When considering different consultants, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind, such as:
- Their company – Look at the website, brochures, and other marketing materials of the consultants you’re considering. What do they say about their company? Do they have experience working with businesses like yours? How long have they been in business? Do they have any awards or recognition? Are there any testimonials or reviews from past clients you could read?
- Their people – It goes without saying that the people you hire need to have the right skills and experience. But that’s not all. You also need to ensure they’re a good fit for your team. Do they have the right personality and communication style? Will they be able to work well with your team?
- Their processes – Every consultant has their own way of doing things. When talking to consultants, be sure to ask about their processes. How do they approach Agile transformations? What steps do they take? Do they have any proprietary methods or tools that they use? Does their organization follow the Agile Manifesto?
- Their pricing – One of the most important factors to consider is cost. Make sure to get quotes from multiple consultants so that you can compare prices. Be sure to also ask about any additional costs, such as travel expenses or license fees for tools and software.
Once you’ve considered all of these factors, you should be able to narrow down your options and choose the right Agile consultant for your business.
Undoubtedly, Agile as a business philosophy has taken the world by storm. In recent years, more and more businesses have been implementing Agile principles to deliver more value to their customers faster. And it’s not just software development companies – businesses of all types and sizes are adopting Agile.
We hope that this extensive guide has helped you understand what Agile consulting is and how it can be used to help your business and its Agile transformation. Remember, working with an Agile consultant could be a good idea if you’re looking to increase your speed and agility. Just be sure to research and choose the right consultant for your needs.
Do you have any questions about Agile consulting? Or are you ready to start working with a consultant? If so, feel free to contact us at The i4 Group. Our team of Agile experts would be more than happy to help you transform your business.