Why Work With An Agile Consultant?
You’re probably facing one of these common problems:
- Products are late and don’t meet expectations
- Product development is unpredictable
- Developers burned out
- Products slow to launch to market
- Competitors beating you to the punch
Agile consulting is a solution for this common set of problems that plague development teams. It is more than training, It is more than process. And “Agile in name only” is not our goal.
I’ve come to understand this through years of driving agile strategies in global Biotech, Medical Technology, Consumer Tech, and Internet Infrastructure companies. I’ve learned that agile is simpler than you realize because it’s built on a small number of principles. Great agile consultants know this and practice it in their work.
Working with teams and management, Agile helps companies deliver the right products. It does it by building team capabilities that deliver high quality products and do it reliably and repeatedly.
The best Agile consultants integrate the total range of solutions: people, process, tools and culture. They prioritize the solutions and help organizations to achieve the benefits that Agile promises.
“John was able to come in to a complex assignment and teach both the art and science of project leadership. Seek him out.”— Todd Tomba, Roche R&D Executive
Below, I explain what an Agile consulting firm does and how you benefit. I also discuss how we approach consulting at TCGen. Then, I’ll share our approach to Agile Transformation and what differentiates TCGen from the rest.
Benefits of Agile Consulting
Our clients have reported measurable improvements in team performance following an Agile Transformation including:
- Increasing the time spent engineering and delivering value
- Cutting Time to Market
- Reducing product defects
- Reducing Burn out
At the business level, Agile consulting helps companies…
- Improve product development predictability
- Develop a reliable release cadence
- Create a reproducible product development cycle
- Drive continuous improvement
- Collaborate better with stakeholders
Contrary to popular belief, we believe that agile transformation does not entail a complex array of tactics. It boils down to three Agile principles that deliver the greatest value:
- Rapid iterations that accelerate innovation
- Continuous feedback loops that maximize customer delight
- Constant measurement that ensures teams stay on the right track
Agile consulting helps organizations prioritize and customize the focus of Agile engagements to maximize value delivery as soon as possible. This can range from an entire SAFE (Scaled Agile Framework) implementation, to kanban with an individual team.
In-house team vs Outsourced Agile Consulting Services
When considering an Agile transformation you may wonder if it is best to do it in-house and implement Agile practices yourself, or if you should seek outsourced firms to help with business agility, and help you to scale Agile. There is no simple answer but your current situation may indicate which path to pursue.
If you already have an Agile mindset, and high performing Agile teams, and you are far along your journey then you may not need to go outside to seek Agile consulting services. This is especially true if your execution of Agile capabilities is at a high level. On the other hand, if you are struggling with Agile teams, you might leverage expert external resources.
What Do Agile Consulting Services Provide?
- Helps teams create fast prototypes
- Helps teams improve prototypes through iterations
- Helps teams incorporate user feedback into the product
- Helps teams get up to speed more quickly and avoid common pitfalls
- Helps build permanent change by designing metrics that enable sustainable improvements, and
- Provides advice, training, and process design that build the customer-centered approach into new product development
Depending on the implementation, these services may include the application of Agile methodologies, on existing projects. We would help create an initial backlog of user stories, provide teams with real-time Agile coaching, and even help interface teams to devops. Often this is done within the context of Agile Product Development, or Hybrid Development approach – and it is very commonly found.
Skill up your people.
Scale up your processes.
Speed up your revenue.
Agile consultants help companies create an agile transformation that touches many aspects of the organization including:
- Roles (Scrum Master, Product Owner)
- Processes (Sprints & Demos)
- Tools (Jira)
“We’re making better decisions, faster”— Apple Executive
Since Agile transformation entails a culture change, many companies turn to Agile consulting to help them build the related capabilities into their team across each of these domains.
TCGen’s Agile Consulting Services
TCGen’s approach typically begins with a thorough assessment of your organization’s needs and follows it with focused Agile training for team members and their managers:
- We first highlight the pain points.
- Then we agree on goals and KPIs.
- We then identify a small number of the most effective levers of improvement.
- We associate each of these levers with a metric.
We believe that Agile is more than process and “Agile in name only” is not our goal.
The TCGen Approach to Agile Implementation
TCGen’s consulting approach combines:
- Team training,
- Manager coaching,
- Role definition, and
- Tools to deliver a self-reliant capability.
TCGen is the overall program manager and problem solver that works in conjunction with the executive team and typically with the Product Owners or Scrum Masters (Agile coaches, too). Your organization absorbs Agile with a resident expert. Agile practices, and business Agility as it relates to product development, becomes the new normal.
We work with teams and management to create a plan, crafting custom solutions to address a focused set of challenges. TCGen then works with you to deliver a sequenced series of steps, targeting the most important levers of improvement. We customize our approach so you have an inhouse capability to continue to build upon Agile methodology.
We call this approach, focused on a few key improvement drivers, the inch wide, mile deep approach. It creates results quickly. And fast results are contagious.
TCGen then monitors the behavioral change over time to see that it is taking hold using our Predictive Metrics methodology to manage change by measuring behavior. We use feedback we receive over time to fine tune the metrics as needed. These metrics are very effective in communication with the C-Suite and top level management.
We’re not just Agile trainers or coaches. TCGen is committed to your overall business success.
TCGen’s Agile Transformation Expertise
TCGen founder John Carter designed and implemented the Apple New Product Process (ANPP). This is an Agile process used throughout Apple’s product divisions. John, former Chief Engineer at BOSE, has also led Agile engagements across industries including:
- Medical Technology – Implemented a transformation with a large US/German R&D organization that adheres to design control to improve predictability.
- Consumer Technology – Implemented sprints, including tracking, definition of done, and a novel (and simple) demonstration methodology, to improve execution and increase internal customer focus.
- Internet Infrastructure – Created an Agile discovery process to speed the development of transformative technology. Established a new Agile organization to manage independent teams. The result: an entirely new product that attracted new revenues and customers.
With years of consulting experience in creating lightweight, iterative processes, John has developed an expertise in applying select tools from the Agile software kit to other types of products and has helped companies extend Agile to multiple software development teams, after an initial pilot.
“John has that rare combination of brilliance and pragmatism that truly sets him apart. John is world class.”— Dan Keller, HP Executive
We also have experience in applying Agile across the lifecycle, from portfolio management, the roadmap process, all the way through development (including project management) and ultimately the creation of business value. There is an agile approach to managing products that are already in the market, too. We have our approach to implement the scaled agile framework (SAFE) that encompasses this lifecycle view.
The TCGen Difference
TCGen’s approach to Agile Consulting differs from the others because we listen. We drive deeply into the management issues and culture of the organization. This is essential since Agile Transformations span your organization. They involve management, development teams, and product management. Our Project History approach captures the voices within your organization and enables you to learn from the past, as you imagine your future.
In a dialog with senior leadership, we then define the key results you would like to achieve. We then craft a customized approach to your Agile Transformation. We guide organizations to apply select elements from Agile Development. These may include ceremonies, processes, or methodologies like Scrum, including roles such as Scrum Master and Product Owner.
Agile is not all or nothing, despite what you’ve heard. Our approach to Agile consulting enables you to select the Agile approaches that work for you. Too many consultants complicate Agile to no end. We’ll help you implement only the approaches that make a difference.
TCGen is also different in that you will work directly with someone with deep, first-hand knowledge of Agile development. We won’t hand you off to a recent MBA recipient. You will get the benefit of working with someone who has developed products enjoyed by millions of people.
About John Carter
John Carter has been a widely respected adviser to technology firms over his career. He is the author of Innovate Products Faster: Graphical Tools for Accelerating Product Development. As Founder and Principal of TCGen Inc., he has advised some of the most revered technology firms in the world:
- Abbott, Amazon, Apple
- BOSE, Cisco, Fitbit
- HP, IBM, Roche
John specializes in the value creating aspects of product development – from the strategy and innovation processes, through product definition, execution and launch. He has helped companies cut time to market, rapidly scale their product program, and improve innovation with customer led insights, leading to greater profitability, reduced costs, and improved customer satisfaction.
He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Cirrus Logic (CRUS) a leading supplier of mixed signal semiconductors where he is involved with company strategy and sits on the Compensation and Audit Committees.
John was the founder of Boston-based Product Development Consulting, Inc. (PDC), a consultancy advising Fortune 500 companies in the areas of research, development, and marketing. During his time there, he worked with Apple to create the Apple New Product Process (ANPP) which is used in all product divisions. He has been an invited speaker at MIT and Stanford University, and a member of the faculty at Case Western’s Executive program.
Before starting PDC, John was Chief Engineer of BOSE Corporation. John is the inventor of the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones and shares the original patent with Dr. Amar Bose. He was one of the initial contributors in BOSE’s entry into the automobile OEM business and led the product and business development of BOSE’s patented noise reduction technology for the military market.
He earned his MS in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a BS in engineering from Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, CA.