Agile project management allows continuous product development in close coordination and cooperation of the stakeholders even in times of forced measures for distributed work.
The change from classic product management to agile frameworks, which is triggered by the digital transformation, affects all business levels of a company.
With agile or hybrid project methods, international and distributed teams can be led to implement the agreed work packages and project steps in a self-organized and transparent manner. This enables thaltegos to efficiently integrate the short-term support of a consultant as interim manager when limiting project parameters such as time pressure, lack of know-how or a staff shortage is a risk for the implementation. Before any consulting approach the client company is faced with an important question: Do you need assistance in setting up agile structures or is only temporary support in existing structures required?
Case A: The company has not yet established agile structures and processes
In the role of the Agile Coach we support the SCRUM Master in the planning, moderation and organizational introduction of agile methods in the company. The most effective way to create the operative prerequisites for agile project work is to involve the decision makers directly at all levels in the processes. They need to be included in the resulting change at the strategic control level as well as in the change at the functional area level such as purchasing, finance and HR. The Agile Coach as an change agent is the link between all stakeholders and advises the organization and the project team on how to use and manage existing and new processes, methods and tools.
Transferred to the time-limited scope of an implementation project according to SCRUM, this can for example be achieved if the agile coach contributes his methodological knowledge to the agile project team and enables the team, together with the SCRUM Master, to manage further follow-up projects independently. The following figure shows the distribution of tasks within the SCRUM team.
In companies, there is a multitude of grown structures and processes which slow down the realization of digitization projects. Existing structures must be sensibly converted into a new agile form. Through clear, holistic facilitation in the introduction of agile project work coupled with direct support for an operational project, the Agile Coach can use a best-practice approach to demonstrate the profitability, task adequacy and ultimate success through satisfied users to the team, employees and partners.
Case B: The company has already established agile structures and processes
Recently, we were able to support the internal product owner on the business side in the development of a data-driven application for sales management , as part of a customer project with the sales management of a premium car manufacturer. The company had already established agile structures and processes, but had not yet transferred them to this development project. The main challenge was the complexity of the stakeholder structure.
Hence, a huge number of project partners, interface functions and internationally distributed development teams had to be managed. Even the internal coordination rounds in the group consumed so much time that the product owner could only take care of the actual product development at the edge of the day. Therefore, we introduced the role of the Product Owner Consultant in the project. Especially for product owners with little practical experience, methodical and content-related support regarding his role support by a product owner consultant is essential for the success of the project. The task of the Product Owner Consultant is to guide the Product Owner in strategic product topics such as the creation and continuation of the product roadmap, to support the Product Owner operationally in agile product development and to enable the Product Owner to meet the demands placed on him. As a value maximizer and product visionary, it is the task of the product owner to provide the team with content-related guidelines for implementation and to meet the expectations of users and stakeholders.
Altogether, we distinguish the following 3 layers: First, the strategy level, which includes culture and agile mindset and which is lived by all project participants. Second, the methodology level, which is specified by the SCRUM Master and supported by the Agile Coach. Third, the operative level of agile product management, which requires the support of the Product Owner Consultant in his daily project work.
We define the role of the Product Owner Consultant in providing support at all levels of product owner work. Specifically, the range of tasks extends from stakeholder and product owner training, to management of the discovery phase, and to support in backlog maintenance. Last but not least, the transfer of the implemented project- on the IT side into an operative mode and on the business side into the line function – as well as the resulting change in the product owner’s assignment of tasks is also part of the consulting assignment. This way, the sustainable success of the implemented product can be ensured.
At Thaltegos we have been using agile frameworks in our projects for several years. Therefore, we have already been able to build up an extensive wealth of experience and have accompanied customers in their first agile steps both as Agile Coach and as Product Owner Consultant. Often, the changeover is an immense challenge for the customer’s organisation. At the same time, an increasing readiness for change is becoming more and more visible.
Through our day-to-day consulting practice in various industries and areas, we have comprehensive know-how on digital product development within agile project management.
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