There are many ways to tackle acquiring the skills you’ll need for an agile transformation, and any way you play it it’s likely to cost you something.
If you had bucket fulls of money you could skill up using an Agile Consultancy. Those guys make it pretty easy for you to engage with them, and a very effective way of piloting agile at your organisation is to do it side by side with Agile Consultants. Effective, and yet expensive.
Realistically people with agile skills are small pool at the moment in Australia and you have to pay a baseline cost that’s over the average cost for the same resource. At my organisation we haven’t been too radical in our approach and now we have a decent spread of agile capable people across the department.
Initially it started with me. Hopefully experienced, ex ThoughtWorker and obviously an evangelist of sorts, however I also have a day time job of running the department. We also had a smattering of people who had been swept up into agile projects in their past employments, but really not enough for a groundswell or anyone who could lead a project.
So we needed an expert, someone who could coach a whole team hands on, peform the lead role and someone who could come in fresh to our very challenging pilot project.
We hired one guy, actually a referral from a old ThoughtWorks friend I got chatting to; illustrating the importance of networking in the agile community. We also decided to spend our consultancy budget on getting ThoughtWorks in to help us run the quickstart over a couple of weeks- that part came at a price – but allowed us to get the scope agreed and get a good amount of education around the process embedded at the same time. So we considered the engagement highly valuable.
Next time we had to hire a Business Analyst we managed to attract an ex- ThoughWorks consultant to the role which was fortuitous; our agile capability was blossoming at this stage.
After that we didn't do too much more to get heavy hitters in, we just ensured when we hired, we hired with agile experience, and more importantly that we hired great people.
A pleasing virtuous circle can occur when you've made up your mind that the department is going agile, you've got a great story to tell candidates and it is a strong attractor to good agile people. Meantime with many of your projects running agile your current resources are being exposed to agile learning and converting their own skill sets.
Our next step in bedding down our agile skill sets will be nurturing our own agile coaching capability in house. We have lots of ideas about how we will do this over the coming months which are really exciting.