Author Archives: Christopher Hughes

When to Hire a Consultant

This Post was written by Christopher Hughes
Date posted: May 7, 2018


Businesses bring on consultants for a variety of reasons. Whether they’re looking to save time or they need a third party’s opinion, consultants offer a range of services. But, how do you know when to hire them? If any of the below paragraphs resonate with you, it may be time to add a consultant to your team.

  • You’re doing something new and need expertise
    • A new software, technical experts, no one in-house and you’re missing the core tech
  • Need more capacity
    • Understand how/when it will be done, but you just need extra help
    • Keep reputation for being fast and on-schedule, making deadlines

What’s ahead overwhelms you
Is your project running smoothly, but you know your team could still use an extra set of hands? Is the project about to require more manpower than what you have available? That’s where consultants come in. Remember, consultants, are highly skilled, temporary employees who are there to focus on your business’ request. You won’t have to call upon any of your permanent employees. They can concentrate on their work and stay productive while the consultant focuses on the task at hand.  

You need an outsider’s perspective
It’s not uncommon for businesses to bring on consultants simply because they need an unbiased opinion. Whether you need a solution to the problem you’re trying to solve or you need some innovative ideas to revamp your project, adding an outsider’s perspective can make a world of difference.

You’re ready to hear the truth about your business/project
Consultants have to be honest with you about the business strategy you’re working on or the direction of the project, and you have to be ready to listen. Occasionally, people in leadership positions become defensive when a consultant delivers his/her opinions. Remember, you hired a third party to objectively review the situation and offer their expertise. Now it’s time to hand them the reins and learn about what needs to be done.

To reach Chris Hughes email or call 401-203-7867.
Reach out to us if you’ve decided it’s time to hire a consultant! Don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter for job postings and industry insights.


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An Overview of Scrum Methodology

This Post was written by Christopher Hughes
Date posted: April 2, 2018

Agile methods assist project managers by increasing productivity as well as efficiency. In case you’re not clear on this, Scrum methodology is an agile way of managing a project, while Agile is an umbrella term. It’s one of the most popular frameworks for implementing Agile, especially in software development. The more organizations realize the benefits of Scrum Methodology, the happier and more productive its employees will be.

An Overview
Scrum teams typically consist of five to nine people, and do not have any form of leader who delegates tasks or makes final decisions. This is to facilitate team unity. With this setup, the team addresses any issues together, making each member an integral part of the whole. While there is no hierarchy, there are three important roles in a Scrum team: the Product Owner, the ScrumMaster, and the Development Team.

Teams that use scrum methodology experience:

  • Higher productivity
  • Higher-quality products/results
  • Reduced project time
  • Stronger team dynamics
  • Happier employees

The Scrum Sprint
A team’s project progresses through the use of Scrum events, sometimes called ceremonies. A Sprint is a set block of time, usually between 2-4 weeks, where specific tasks are completed. After that, a Sprint Review should occur to let team members present what they completed. Here, the Product Owner compares the completed work to the Product Backlog. At the end of the sprint, a final meeting, called the Retrospective, takes place. During the retrospective, the team discusses what went well, improvements, and the overall performance during the sprint. It’s also a time to update any strategies for the next sprint.

The product backlog serves as a detailed, prioritized to-do list. It outlines all requirements for the project and sometimes considered as the most important document. During each sprint, teams should refer to the product backlog to create a Sprint Backlog. A completed task from the product backlog should be added to the Increment. The increment summarizes all completed items since the last software release.

The Daily Stand-up, or Daily Scrum, is fairly self-explanatory. It’s a short daily meeting that the team conducts to help prioritize tasks and ensure all members are on the same page. Keep in mind, this meeting should only last about 15 minutes; it’s meant to facilitate collaboration, not status updates.

Top 10 best practices

  1. Develop the Product Vision and Product Backlog together
  2. At the start of your project, try using organizational tools like whiteboards, sticky notes, and spreadsheets to put your project in order.
  3. Be consistent with the Daily Scrum – conduct standing meetings to keep them short and meet at the same time each day
  4. Don’t underestimate the benefits of a retrospective – encourage all team members to seriously review the events during the last sprint and work to improve
  5. Not all items in a product backlog will be developed, but it should contain all possibilities despite this
  6. Have a healthy balance of documentation – prioritize what should and shouldn’t be
  7. Consider Agile/Scrum software programs to help your team stay organized and on track
  8. Never adjust your sprint’s time block – strictly follow it, otherwise your team might continue the process of extending deadlines
  9. Be proactive with quality assurance
  10. Include the client – update them frequently enough to ensure your team grasps what the client desires and make sure you don’t lose sight of it

What would you include on your list of best scrum methodology practices? Let us know on LinkedIn and Twitter!

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Understanding & Introducing Agile Methods to Your Team

This Post was written by Christopher Hughes
Date posted: March 1, 2018

In today’s business climate change is the only constant.  Being nimble enough to anticipate and react to change in real time will reap the benefits. In 2001, the Manifesto for Software Development introduced a new way to manage software development teams. The methodology, called Agile, is based on a set of twelve principles established by the authors:

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility
  10. Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly

Through the years, Agile methodology has spread beyond the software development world. Organizations have recognized its effectiveness in employee productivity and customer satisfaction. If you’re thinking of introducing Agile in your workplace, read on.

What is Agile?
Before you begin making changes to the way your team operates, you must fully understand what you’re about to recommend. First and foremost, Agile is based on the ability to respond to change effectively in order to succeed in situations with uncertainty. It emphasizes close collaboration between the developers and the business stakeholders. Customer or stakeholder satisfaction is the first priority. It also advocates early delivery, continuous improvement, rapid and flexible responses to changes, and adaptive planning.

Agile isn’t just a methodology, it’s a mindset. When making the transition to agile practices, remember that you will learn new skills and unlearn old ones. It’s important to remember that Agile seeks to change the way team members, managers, and customers interact.

In the most simplistic way, Agile methods are similar to what we do when we are overwhelmed with our workload. We sit down and make a list, we analyze and prioritize each item on the list, and we start executing. Along the way, we adapt and stay flexible as we go through the list.  

Introducing Agile Methods to your Team

Evaluate your culture
Before diving into introducing Agile to your team, first evaluate the culture of your organization. Implementing agile methods will take time, and your company needs to be patient through this process. There needs to be a desire for change and an overall understanding of open-mindedness.

Start slow by testing small groups
In an agile setting, developers will interact with managers more frequently, but in shorter periods of time. These are referred to as sprints. Whether a sprint is a matter of weeks or months, the idea is to deliver results in small increments. You may run into trouble with some members viewing this as micromanaging. Remind them that in this environment managers work to help eliminate as many obstacles as they can.

It may be best for you to identify one department or project team to start testing agile methods.

Above all else, listen to your team! Pay attention to people’s questions and concerns about the new strategy. Be aware of what’s catching on quickly and what else needs improved. If necessary, look into on-site coaching. Change in organizations is good, but it does take time and effort.

Due to the rise in popularity of agile methods, there are many resources available to help you. Do your research and take some time to evaluate if your project team would benefit from Agile. When you’re introducing Agile, keep in mind this process won’t be quick and easy. However, the long-term benefits are worth the time and effort.

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