Agile represents a unique approach to project management that is characterized by short development cycles and a heavy emphasis on collaboration between team members.
As a concept, Agile first originated in software development as a way to manage complex projects more effectively. In the years since, Agile has been adopted by organizations in a variety of industries to help improve efficiency and better respond to changing customer needs. According to the 2021 State of Agile report, 94% of organizations from their survey are currently practicing Agile in some way.
While it sounds like a relatively simple concept, successfully implementing Agile can be a challenge for many organizations. That’s where agile consulting services come in.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at what agile consulting is and what it could mean for your business.
Transitioning to Agile
Why have so many organizations adopted Agile? In a word: flexibility.
Agile methodology is designed to help businesses be more nimble and adaptable to change. It does this by breaking projects down into smaller pieces that can allow for the delivery of value in a short period of time (usually two weeks or less). This approach makes it easier to make changes along the way, which is essential in today’s rapidly-changing business landscape.
The benefits of Agile are well-documented. The previously mentioned State of Agile report states that the three business areas that receive the most benefits from Agile are management (70%), visibility (70%), and alignment (66%).
In a much more specific sense, here are more detailed benefits that businesses have reported after implementing Agile:
- Improved project visibility
- Better communication between teams and leadership
- Faster time to market
- Increased customer satisfaction
- Improved team morale and more
With overwhelming accounts of companies and industries benefiting from Agile, it’s no wonder that Agile practices have been on the rise in recent years.
At the same time, we shouldn’t overlook the fact that Agile adoption, especially if you’re coming from a traditional waterfall approach, can be extremely difficult.
Just some of the challenges that organizations face when transitioning to Agile include:
- Cultural resistance
- Lack of understanding of Agile principles
- Inflexible processes and tools
- Lack of management buy-in, and more.
These challenges are often compounded by the fact that many organizations try to do it alone when switching to Agile. While it’s certainly possible to successfully adopt Agile without outside help, working with an agile consultancy can make the process much smoother.
Agile consulting, a definition
Agile consulting is the process of working with an external consultant to help your organization successfully implement Agile principles and practices.
An agile consultant will work with your team to assess your current situation and pinpoint areas where you can improve. They will also help you develop a customized action plan for successfully transitioning to an Agile way of working.
In addition, agile consultants can provide ongoing support and advice as you implement Agile across your organization. This includes helping you troubleshoot any challenges that arise and providing guidance on best Agile practices.
Agile consultant vs Agile coach
Most people use the terms “agile consultant” and “agile coach” interchangeably. While they are similar, there are some key differences between the two roles.
An agile coach is primarily focused on helping individuals and teams within an organization learn and adopt the Agile framework. They typically work with teams on a long-term basis, providing ongoing education and support.
On the other hand, an agile consultant is more focused on helping an organization as a whole transition to Agile. This includes developing tailored plans, implementing processes and tools, and providing training and education on a more general level.
While both roles are important in helping organizations successfully adopt Agile methods, the decision of whether to work with an agile consultant or an agile coach (or both) will ultimately come down to your specific goals.
Benefits of working with an agile consultant
There are many benefits to working with an agile consultant, including:
- Expertise and experience: Agile consultants have a deep understanding of the Agile methodology and how it can be applied across different industries. They also have extensive experience helping organizations successfully implement Agile. This means they’re well-positioned to identify potential challenges and help you avoid common pitfalls.
- An objective perspective: It can be difficult for organizations to take an objective look at their own processes and identify areas of improvement. An agile consultant can provide an outside perspective and help you see things you may not be able to see on your own.
- Flexibility: Agile consultants are typically very flexible in terms of how they work. This means they can easily adapt to your organization’s unique needs and culture.
- Improved efficiency: Working with an agile consultant can help you save time and resources by streamlining your process for implementing Agile. They can also help you avoid common mistakes that can lead to delays and increased costs.
Does my business need an agile consultant?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It depends on a variety of factors, including the size and complexity of your organization, the industry you’re in, and your team’s level of experience with Agile.
If you’re not sure whether or not you need an agile consultant, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Do you have the internal resources and expertise to implement Agile successfully?
- Are you confident in your team’s ability to work together effectively using Agile principles?
- Do you clearly understand what needs to be done to transition to an Agile way of working?
- Do you have the time and resources to support an Agile transformation?
If you don’t know the answers to any of these questions, it may be worth considering an Agile consulting service.
What to expect from an agile consulting engagement
What happens after you decide to work with an agile consultant will vary depending on the specific needs of your organization. But in general, the consultant you hire will go through the following steps:
- Assess your current situation: The first step is to assess your organization’s current processes and identify areas where you can make improvements. This will involve interviews with key stakeholders, observation of team dynamics, and a review of existing documentation. In this step, it is crucial to be honest about the strengths and weaknesses of your organization and your vision for the future so that the consultant can tailor their approach accordingly.
- Develop a customized action plan: Once the assessment is complete, the consultant will work with you to develop a customized action plan for successfully transitioning to an Agile way of working. This will involve setting goals, timelines, and milestones. Depending on the complexity of your organization, the plan may also include recommendations for organizational changes, such as creating new roles or establishing cross-functional teams.
- Train Everyone: A key aspect of implementing Agile is ensuring that the organization understands the basics of agile methodology. To do this, Agile Consultants typically begin by teaching a course or a workshop to the leadership team. This allows for leaders to grasp the concept of Agile and provide guidance to the teams on the direction of implementing change. Once leaders have been trained, Agile Consultants will hold classes for the teams and for the specific roles on the teams. This helps establish a foundation and a common understanding across the organization.
- Implement Agile: The next step is to implement the Agile principles across your organization. The consultant will ensure that everyone is on board with the change and that the transition is smooth. It is important to know that this is a long-term process, and there may be some bumps along the way. But with the right support, you can successfully make the switch to Agile.
- Evaluate and adjust: After you’ve been working with Agile for a while, the consultant will check in to see how things are going. They’ll help you troubleshoot any challenges that come up and make adjustments to the way you’re doing things, as needed.
How much does an agile consultant cost?
Just like with any other consulting engagement, the cost of working with an agile consultant will vary depending on the needs of your organization.
The best way to get an accurate estimate of what you’ll need to budget for is to reach out to a few different consultants and ask for a proposal. In the proposal, be sure to ask about the consultant’s experience, their approach to working with clients, and what you can expect in terms of deliverables.
When you’re comparing proposals, it’s important to look beyond the cost to consider the value that the consultant will add to your organization. You want to make sure that you’re getting the best possible return on investment, so ask questions and do your research before making a final decision.
Remember that cheaper is not always better (nor is expensive always better, for that matter). By rushing to pinch pennies, you may end up hiring a consultant who is not a good fit for your needs or doesn’t have the necessary expertise to help you achieve your goals.
Take the time to find a consultant you can trust and with the knowledge to help you successfully transition to an Agile way of thinking and working.
Agile consulting is a service provided by experts who help organizations transition to using Agile principles and practices. This type of consulting can be beneficial for organizations of all sizes that want to improve their efficiency and effectiveness.
If you’re considering working with an agile consultant, be sure to ask about their experience, approach, and what you can expect in terms of deliverables. And don’t forget to compare the cost of different proposals to get the best possible value for your organization.
With the right consultant, you can successfully make the switch to Agile and reap the benefits of this powerful methodology.