© 2017-18 by Westerly Consulting, LLC

Westerly Consulting, LLC

All photographs by Fred Engel

We help companies with AgileGovernance, Product CalendarProduct Strategy, and Management Coaching . Consulting arrangements vary in size and scope and generally involve helping the team members learn how to operate in an Agile environment.

We begin all engagements with an assessment.  We interview people across the organization in order to get a good perspective on the ability of the Product organization to deliver.  The assessment leads to the initial recommendations.  Once the recommendations are underway, we often find another layer of issues.  These often relate to the ability of the company to execute and stay on course.  The ongoing interactions help us guide the company through the steps of becoming a high achievement product company.

Agile

 

Most companies I encounter have a partial implementation of Agile, Scrum, and/or Kanban.  It is usually because they do not understand the Agile principles and philosophies.  We help bridge that gap.

 

We generally provide the following services:

  • Work with the team to identify the Agile practice short comings.  

  • Provide training in Agile practices and principles

  • Provide refresher classes in Scrum or Kanban

  • Act as an Agile Coach to help the organization start improving

  • Help start Communities of Practice to focus on immediate improvements

  • Get Scrum running more smoothly and with complete adherence 

  • Help re-organize around Agile principles (e.g. integrate testing, add Scrum Masters, focus Development Managers)

  • Help individuals adjust to the new model and the changes in their own career goals that come as a consequence

Governance

 

Product decisions need to have broad participation within the company.  Simple Agile Governance (SAGE) creates a decision process for prioritizing the work development is going to do, something that is often hard to track.  Senior management often feels like they have little or no control over what is delivered by the software developers.  This extends to other departments  who are also unhappy with the manner in which features and bugs are prioritized, primarily because they feel they have little or no input. 

SAGE changes the decision process and allows for broad cross-functional participation.  It allows decisions to be made rapidly and clearly at two levels.  First, the senior management gains control over what is going to be delivered by software engineering.  The second decision level allows for rapid cross-functional decision making  at the lower level of the company, so that day to day bug priorities and other conflicts are handled rapidly. SAGE also has mechanisms to escalate rapidly when decisions can't be reached. 

we have deployed Simple Agile Governance (SAGE) in many organizations to drive change rapidly.  SAGE has been battle tested to provide transparency and accountability to the Product Management and Development side of the company.  Our goal is to mold SAGE into your organziation in a way that follows the solid cultural norms of your company.

Product Calendar

 

The Product Calendar is a process that provides a company with a clear definition of what is being delivered and when.  SAGE's Product Calendar component, drives a process that provides a clear statement in language the whole company can understand, about what features and capabilities are being added when.  In order to have a Product Calendar, a company needs to adopt a set of processes.  We help companies do the following:

  • Define the Cadence of the Product Calendar commitments

  • Tie into the Governance rules to finalize Product Calendar commitments

  • Create a cadence for Product Calendar review, assuring transparency and accountability

  • Create a model for the audience of the Product Calendar process and review points

  • Develop documentation standards around the communication of the Product Calendar

 

This are all part of the SAGE implementation.

Product Strategy

 

For all of the above to make sense, the company needs a clear Product Strategy that everyone in the company can understand. This is often not the case, as many companies are scrambling to address customer pain without having a clear idea of where they are going. When we find that the Product Strategy is not adequate, we help the company figure out its own product strategy. 

For the most part, we act as the facilitator in the whole process of getting the key decision makers to agree on which markets should be targeted with what capabilities.   Once basic agreement is in place, there needs to be a clear articulation of the product strategy, it needs to be communicated to the company. It needs to drive the Product Calendar process, and various Product Owners and Managers need to drive product decisions towards those objectives.  We also help our clients address the more complex problem of having to make investment in several themes at once: new features, customer pain points, technology pain points, sales ennoblement, marketing empowerment, and others.

Management Coaching

 

Many of the companies we encounter have management that is unaccustomed to the role they are playing.  In addition, Agile requires a different management style than a more traditional organization.  The mangers we encounter generally seem hungry for help in grappling with the challenge that their growth has presented.

The role we play is to work with the managers at  all levels, to help them adopt best practice in managing the teams.  We do training, one-on-one coaching, and general education.  Our objective is to help the managers understand the principles and philosophy of Agile Management so that they can drive the company forward on their own.

From time to time we are asked to play a temporary role of being the CTO or the VP of Product, Software and/or Cloud Services.  We prefer not to play that role, but will do so if necessary.