The Problem - The software delivered is usually late, buggy, and often does not meet customer/market need. Engineering is not as flexible as the business needs and customer opportunities are being missed. Sales, Support, Marketing, Professional Services, and Cloud Services, feel locked out of the decision making. The product decisions that are made are not universally bought into or understood. Confidence in software is decreasing.
No-one thinks in terms of setting up an inclusive methodology to assure timely response to the challenges on a day to day, week to week, and month to month basis. The constant changes in development are not being bought into by the rest of the company, which has to face the customer on a daily basis. All the "surprise" changes cause any planning to not be credible. Support is not getting what it needs to satisfy customer complaints and bugs. Professional Services are in the same position. There is no transparency to the changed priority that regularly occur. There is no accountability for the committed deliveries, that often cause commitments to customers. Nobody knows how to work together effectively.
It is time for a change.
The Challenge- The software methodology is not working as needed. Some companies are stuck in Waterfall. Other's move to Agile but are unknowingly not really Agile. Neither situation is adequate for the fast paced market needs of today's software providers. Fixing Agile for the developers alone may benefit them, but more is needed to bring the whole company into the decision making process.
People implement Agile without doing their homework and without realizing where to follow the rules and where not to. Their implementations are deficient. Managers leading this effort are often unsure of themselves and lack the confidence to engage the rest of the company in this new discipline. Product Management is more focused on features and the market than they are on getting people inside the company to participate in the decision process. The rest of the company is just mad, demanding better service. Lastly, engineers and support live in the status quo of everyday crises without taking the time to really figure out how to change that dynamic. Often, because the pressure from senior management is to produce more software to close more sales.
Everyone is so caught up in the problems, nobody takes a step back to see how to attack it all in a better way.
How we help - Companies have the problems described above because they have outgrown their processes and need help creating new ones. They are also finding that the challenge to moving to Agile requires a mindset change for many people. As a results, we see common patterns in what our client companies needs are.
We begin every engagement with an assessment. The interviews we conduct include stakeholders around the company, as well as people inside the product and software organizations. The interviews provide a full picture of what is and is not working, which drives our initial recommendations & engagement.
Our recommendations tend to follow existing best practice, creating new ones where needed. We coach management on how to deal with all of the changes in practice and attitude required by Agile. There are several areas that we usually focus on in the companies we work with:
Strict adherence to Agile/Scrum/Kanban until everyone understands the underlying principles and philosophies (Sh Ha Ri).
Install a Governance Process (i.e. decision making) to allow the cross functional decision-making, an essential ingredient in solving the complex problems facing development.
Establish Product Calendar/Road-map process to drive feature commitment and accountability. Everyone needs to know what is coming and when.
Facilitate in the creation of a real Product Strategy that can be the guide for the Road map and the Product Calendar.
Management/Executive Coaching to help not only deal with the increased size of the company but also with the changes required by an Agile Philosophy.
In most of our engagements, we end up helping with all five of the items. If you are to continue the growth that got you to your current size, you need new ways of doing things.
Whatever stage your company is in, Westerly Consulting has the experience, talent, and business acumen to help you drive your strategy and company. Westerly Consulting has worked with Fortune 500 companies, mid-sized companies and start-ups. Let us help you move your business in the right direction.