5 Rules to Select Consultant for Enterprise Agile Adoption

5 Rules to Select Consultant for Enterprise Agile Adoption

Everybody says that your organization should either go agile or go out of business.

Quite an advice. Huh ?

While going agile, you may pilot with well proven team. Ask them to read up and start a pilot project. In case this is not feasible, you may decide to hire an agile coach to help out.

Agile Coach

If you decide that your organization needs to adopt agile you may want to hire a consultant or agile coach. Insiders may not have the agile experience. Secondly, the coach is expected to bring external perspective and can advise better on how to approach this.

Why Do You Need Checklist:

The agile literature takes lot of pain to explain that it is not for everyone. It needs agile culture and so on. What if your industry is not agile? Bringing agile coach and making your staff follow him blindly will be a disaster.

The check list:

1. He delivered product using agile methodology

There are tonnes of books on agile, SCRUM, TDD, FDD and so on. It is easier to understand agile as concept. Getting practical insights requires hands on work with the methodology. That is the primary reason you want to spend money on consultants. If the coach has not done much, do not proceed.

2. Check the structure in which he delivered

The agile boasts about working in “agile structure”. Different organizations have different cultures based on industry, business and scale of the organization. If it was introduced by the consultant in similar or more complex structure, you can move forward.

3. Check the value proposition against the processes existing prior to agile

Make sure he explains the value proposition – against real pre-existing process, not against the hypothetical waterfall model.

Agile folks have the habit of taking the imaginary case study of waterfall model.The pure theoretical model in which nobody is really developing products. The pure model is flawed in ways described in agile literature. The value of agile, when compared against theoretical model will be very high. However your existing process is likely to have elements of agility. The proposed process needs to be assessed against this existing process.

4. He worked with organizations similar to your company culture

Each industry has its own work culture, lingo and ‘time constant’. The work culture in terms of hierarchical behavior, decision making etc. In industrial automation, it is different than It for banks. If your consultant has worked with your industry, he can offer insights about the work culture and what works in such scenarios. If product owner is a group of individuals spread geographically, the post-it based process management will not be effective.

Likewise, some industries have long decision making process. Shortening cycle may not help the bottom line. In such case, decision-making also will remain as. In such scenario, expecting product owner to be present in daily standups will not work.

5.Check his understanding of life cycle in your industry or in similar one

Brochure can claim working with an organization similar to yours. More important question – what kind of work was done in that company? Does he understand the larger life cycle and context in which you want to bring in agile process?

Check how comprehensive he is in thinking – plain process consultancy will not work. He should be able to propose practically achievable re-organizations as well.

Has agile adoption case study. He is comfortable explaining in a way you can visualize.

To sum it up,

  • As senior management professional, be part of initial evaluation of the agile coach.
  • Do not leave it to junior management alone.
  • If you can not join, ensure that evaluators can think about project execution, organization design, cultural compatibility with your business. Wrong adoptions will be very expensive.

Would you like to share any experience with agile deployment and the approach?

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