When starting an Agile Implementation good Agile consulting firms are mandatory, this article explains to you what you should look for when hiring one so that you do not run into troubles.
If your organization is planning to move towards Agile and is looking for agile consulting firms to help with its agile transformation, where do you begin? Get it wrong and you could end up wasting valuable time and resources and still end up without a suitable solution.
However, knowing what to look for will help you make an informed and trustworthy decision. That’s why I’ve created a checklist of characteristics that you should look out for when you hire an Agile consulting firm to help you with any Agile Transformation.
Be careful with the big Management Consulting firms
It’s easy to be tempted by the glossy brochures of the big-name, traditional management consulting firms that offer digital transformation services. This is especially true for bigger corporates (e.g., banks, telcos, big pharma etc) looking to reinvent themselves in the digital era.
The irony is that whilst they might offer reputational reassurance to a Board of Directors, these consultants are actually the least digital themselves and are, at best, old-fashioned in their systems and approaches.
To their potential big clients, however, all they’re interested in is covering their own backs. Nobody got fired for buying IBM, right?
Unfortunately, 99% of the time these larger consultancy firms won’t provide anything that will be of much help, based on their own lack of appropriate knowledge or experience.
Therefore, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security simply because they’ve acquired a roster of smaller management consultancies in order to shore up their own shortcomings.
Make sure the consultants have real-life experience
If you appoint an agile consulting firm on the basis of its reputation, do some detective work first on the individual consultants they employ.
The minimum requirement should be that they have actual real-life, hands-on experience in the real world prior to being snapped up by the organization you’re thinking of hiring.
It’s all very well to say they’ve consulted for this client, or for that, but have they really got their hands properly dirty and actually done what they’re going to charge you a fortune for?
Before you even think of signing on the dotted line, ask to interview their nominated consultants so that you can learn about their relevant knowledge and experience.
Without a doubt, there are excellent consultants working for the bigger companies, just don’t take this for granted. Being able to create a PowerPoint presentation is fine, but if that’s a consultant’s only experience, then look elsewhere.
Ask for a concrete methodology or approach
Only hire agile consulting firms that have a proven, clear methodology (or approach) designed to solve the sorts of problems your organization is experiencing. Otherwise, you’ll fall into the trap of believing that parachuting a handful of ‘expert’ developers into your business will solve everything.
Unless they work to a proven methodology, it won’t. Anyone who begins by stating the obvious to you that “each company is different and we’ll work it out as we go along” is making excuses for the fact they don’t have anything to hang their hat on.
Basically, they’ll charge you a premium for simply winging it. The real experts will have developed a whole and proven methodology that complements their client’s ecosystem and customizes the solutions.
Ask for content
If you’ve found agile consulting firms you want to hire, check out their website first. For example, any one of the bigger management consultancies might show their indisputable and excellent research findings and approaches, but they could still lack original content that sets them apart.
What you really need to look for are pointers to their home-grown research content and documentation; anything from white papers, podcasts, blog articles, and video tutorials that explain their know-how, right through to the books they’ve published on their expert subject matter. Content really is king.
Aks for Case Studies
There’s no better proof of concept than a successful case study that can be backed up with a client testimonial.
Success is contagious and so if you’re still making up your mind about whether to hire a particular management consultancy, let their previous clients do the talking for them.
On the other hand, if no case studies are available then maybe what they really excel at is talking the talk instead of walking the walk.
Be very careful with daily fees
If you’re offered a daily rate, forget it. Daily fees tell you one thing straight away – that the consultant has no idea how long it will take to implement and solve your problem.
If you like sticking your finger in the air and not worrying about the costs, then that’s the option for you, but at the very least, demand that they provide a list of outcomes, along with KPIs for success.
A well-defined package, however, demonstrates huge levels of confidence and integrity on the consultant’s part in being able to deliver the desired outcomes without you feeling you’ve paid through the nose in the process.
Be sure about what you need
Be aware that there are three categories of management consultant firms for hire:
i. The PowerPointers: great presentational skills, but with no hands-on experience whatsoever, usually the big management consulting firms.
ii. The Big Boys: they’ll offer to take you to the moon and back. They tell you they’ll do everything, but in the process, they’ll do nothing. As with the PowerPointers, you might be offered a couple of days of training, with a couple more of follow-up thrown in for good measure, but that’s typically all you’ll get in return for your investment.
iii. Boutique consultancies: these are the hidden gems worth digging around for. Why? Because we’re in the era where the world is already so complex, it pays to hire a company that specializes in the digital transformation areas you’re looking to problem solve. Not only will they offer the familiar tools and workshops, but they’ll also offer a complete 360-degree, holistic approach tailored to your whole organization.
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