What is a project in technology consulting? Agile way of working in technology consulting
In most cases, the presence of a customer problem is what drives the start of a project in technology consulting, whether it is caused by a missing feature in the software development, or by the software itself.

Identifying and understanding the customer’s problem

Managers and their teams can be tempted to directly deliver the solution they want to implement in the conventional practice of working, that fits in with the existing software. In many ways, this can result in several viable solutions being swept aside, while it can also create time-consuming duties.

By following the root cause of the problem, one should be able to better asses the ideal final solution. This is what is commonly known as the strategy phase, in which the problem regarding a certain element is assessed “as it is” in order to transform or adjust it to what it “should be.”

Answering the question “what is the problem” will allow businesses to always start from the customer problem (i.e. the pain points) and avoids them focusing on the solution they would like to implement or are focused on adopting.

After the issue or problem has been identified, the second step is to assess the current problem to understand the root cause.

This can be done by answering the question “WHY do I have this problem?” If answered to correctly and taking into account the defined problem as well as the desired solution from this perspective, this will help  businesses assess what needs to be improved. At this level you do not find a solution yet.

Solution-based working

In the next phase, known as the solution and design phase, businesses will consider and assess various possible solutions to bridge the gap between the situation as it is and as it should be. Once all possible solutions have been considered, companies should prioritize the solutions that best suit the customer’s problem. The main question that should be asked at this stage is “WHAT can I do?”

This is a transition step to successfully carry out the delivery (Build and Deploy, followed by Go live). Based on the prioritized solutions, a business can then create the relevant and most effective solution that will solve the problem. Specifically to this phase, the question “HOW can I do it?” will help solve the identified issue.

After a solution has been created, built and tested, the time comes to roll it out to the customer’s team and see the final solution work in the real world. You finally have your final solution.

The agile development method

In this article we will mainly focus on the solutioning design and build phase. Many ways of managing a project exist, however if we speak about technology consulting and software development we often hear about the agile way.

Agile is an iterative approach to project management and software development in which teams deliver value to their customers in small increments from the start of the project, instead of delivering it all at once at the end.

Besides, requirements, plans, and results are evaluated continuously throughout the process, so teams develop a natural mechanism for responding to change quickly.

Success rate in software development is largely driven by agile innovation methods, which have improved quality and helped in rapidly getting the improved product to the market. Today, this method is becoming more popular in a wide range of industries and functions, however, it is not always applicable to each sector.

The method is most beneficial when it comes to product development functions, marketing projects, strategic planning activities, supply-chain concerns, and resource allocation decisions. It is less commonly applied to plant maintenance, purchasing, sales calls, and accounting.

Executives must assess whether the projected payoffs will justify the work and expense of a transformation, because the method entails training, behavioral change, and typically adopting new information technologies.

Meanwhile, as part of the project delivery system, the structure of the parties’ relationships, the roles and duties and the overall sequence of actions required to complete the project must also be taken into account.

When compared to traditional management systems such as the waterfall method, through which a project is completed in distinct stages and then progressed step by step toward final consumer release, the agile system offers a number of significant advantages, many of which have been thoroughly researched and documented.

WATERFALL is a project management method in which a project is completed in distinct stages and then progressed step by step toward final consumer release.  Rather than developing an expansive plan before starting the process and then following it up step by step, hoping for no modifications in the plan.

The iterative approach of agile to project management and software development means the solving of the issue is evaluated continuously, giving teams a natural mechanism for adjusting swiftly to change. This can help businesses largely avoid having to face the problems that can arise when using the Waterfall.

Other problems can arise in any phase of a waterfall project, but it will either cause:

  • Subsequent phases to be compressed in terms of schedule (perhaps compromising quality), or;
  • The entire project to be delayed, potentially resulting in greater costs.

Furthermore, the client only sees the product during the testing phase, which is at the end of the project life cycle, and the value after the product has been deployed into production, making it an inefficient method to deal with change.

In the agile method, these are all continuous actions rather than static stages. By completing them on a regular basis, the following benefits are accrued:

  • The quality increases, because testing begins from day one;
  • The visibility of the product improves, because developers are halfway through the project and have built a large part of the functionality;
  • The risk level is decreased as feedback is received at an early stage and in all subsequent stages. Customers are pleased because adjustments can be made without incurring extravagant expenses.

So, how does the agile method actually work?

User/customer stories are the “To-do” list of the project

  1. Projects are divided into “User Stories,” which are pieces of information regarding user functionality.
  2. User Stories are prioritized and then delivered in “Sprint” cycles lasting typically one to four weeks.

How should these be prioritized?

  1. Analyze the size of the collected stories and how they compare to each other and try to estimate how long it will take to deliver the solution.
  2. Establish priorities: The most important tasks should be completed first.

Each Sprint is composed of the following phases: Design, Build, Test and Review.

There are at least a dozen agile innovation techniques, each with its own set of values and principles. Experts frequently blend several methodologies. In the following articles, we’ll learn more about how this can be done.

Throughout the last three decades, agile innovation has changed the software industry, which has likely witnessed more rapid and profound transformation than any other industry. Now, it is expected to transform essentially every other function in many businesses. The greatest obstacle right now isn’t a shortage of advanced methods, empirical evidence of significant benefits, or proof that the agile method can be used outside of the IT sector. It is the executive’s behavior.
Agile’s expansion into a larger range of corporate operations will be accelerated by those who learn to lead it.

By Moune Zouaoui, Senior Consultant at Pink Bay


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