Under the motto “Behind the scenes” we would like to introduce our Process Consulting team to you this time. Our process consultants are communication, method and tool professionals – they advise, support and analyse. The job as a consultant at catworkx: a versatile and challenging activity. We asked our colleague Christoph Piotrowski, Head of Process Consulting at catworkx.
Please introduce yourself and your team. Who are you? What do you do at catworkx?
Christoph: My name is Christoph Piotrowski and I am Head of Process Consulting at catworkx. As a SAFe® Program Consultant and Agile Coach, I advise and support our customers from the enterprise segment in agile and digital transformation projects and show how Atlassian tools can be used to increase efficiency and improve processes.
Our team is responsible for all issues that focus on methodologies, processes, approaches and organization within the company. We are primarily used when companies are looking to make a change that is needed before or alongside a tooling issue.
Currently, we are mainly concerned with the topic of agile transition of teams, programs and companies. Our coaches have specific experience in these topics, e.g. as SAFe® Program Consultants we are familiar with scaled agile frameworks – of course we also bring expertise in other agile frameworks. With our cross-industry knowledge, we advise clients on how to implement agility in the enterprise, what hurdles and pitfalls they may stumble upon, and how to properly engage teams in a transition so that changes can have a lasting impact on value creation in the enterprise.
Of course, we also have an excellent knowledge of Atlassian tools, for example, we are certified Jira administrators and trained Jira Align consultants.
What does your day-to-day work at catworkx look like?
Christoph: I myself deal with an extremely exciting mix of concrete consulting projects and pre-sales tasks. The consulting projects vary in size, from team coaching to the introduction of a scaled agile way of working for entire programs and portfolios.
For example, we create concepts for a transition or for a specific objective of the customer, usually in close cooperation with at least two colleagues, and then go into execution. Unfortunately, in Corona times, that means a lot of virtual workshops. In the near future, we hope to see more on-site appointments and personal discussions with customers again (smiles).
In summary, this means: We organize workshops for the customer to understand the company organization, develop concepts for targeted improvements, discuss methodologies or give training on topics such as Scrum, agility and agile frameworks.
At the same time, we are also working on implementing and setting up tools like Jira or Jira Align. We coordinate closely with our Atlassian Experts, who support us with the technical implementation in Jira and Confluence.
Pre-sales is mainly about talking to customers about their plans and agreeing on solution ideas in advance. If, for example, a customer wants to use Jira Align in the company, we can help them to clarify in advance whether the tool is a good fit for the company. Or we may advise him to focus on a required agile culture change first.
What makes the Process Consulting sector so exciting for you? What do you enjoy most about your job?
Christoph: Two things always catch my eye and motivate me anew: On the one hand, the customers, tasks and interlocutors are diverse and varied. Agile is a topic that is generating an incredible amount of interest across industries, and increasingly so – even outside of development teams. We advise software and development teams from the automotive industry, but also manufacturers of cosmetic products, which is what makes consulting so exciting.
The second motivator is the topic of agility: customers currently want to change a lot. Agile values put much more focus on the employee, for example by creating more team autonomy. In our consultations, we experience how much our contacts benefit from this cultural change, how motivating it is for our client teams. And that motivates us too. And so the work is really fun (laughs).
Which tools and frameworks do you use or should you be familiar with if you work at catworkx?
Christoph: We particularly enjoy consulting against the backdrop of Atlassian tools because we can draw on incredible expertise. That is, good experience with Atlassian tools is especially helpful if you want to work in this field.
Even more important, however, is the methodological framework: Practical experience in agile or scaled-agile working methods and in consulting is crucial. A specific framework is less crucial than the understanding of lean-agile approaches in various business areas.
What were your most challenging projects? Which projects did you enjoy the most?
Christoph: From my point of view, it’s always the most current project, which is particularly fun and exciting (smiles).
But seriously, at the same time challenging and also fun, consulting on Jira Align. This tool is still comparatively “young” in the Atlassian portfolio. catworkx and its consultants were involved from the very beginning when Atlassian launched the Early Access Program. Seeing how the tool gradually integrates into our customers’ Atlassian landscape and supports here on the overarching level is really impressive.
What are the essential requirements for the job if you want to work as a Process Consultant? What advice do you have for applicants who want to work in this field?
Christoph: That’s easy to answer …
- Enjoying consulting, lots of conversations, lots of contacts from all kinds of fields and industries.
- Open-mindedness for new ideas, new methods, new approaches. We want to constantly develop our consulting capabilities, because the market, our customers and possible solutions are also constantly changing.
- Feedback ability: that is, having the ability to reflect on one’s work, seek feedback, improve or develop as needed. Nobody knows everything or works perfectly, everybody makes mistakes – we like to learn from them and improve.
And finally: What relevance, what meaning does the word “agility” have – from your point of view – in the context of companies?
Christoph: There are the core statements from the agile manifesto, for example, which you could quote here for the most part. For me in consulting, three essential characteristics are particularly crucial:
- Agility is supposed to help the company react quickly to changes: A little over a year ago, during the first lockdown, we were able to observe how well some companies succeeded in doing this, and how difficult others found it. Many elementary questions can be derived from this: do existing rules and processes tend to hinder our work or can we streamline them, i.e. make them more effective? Where, for example, do individuals or committees decide on things that teams could decide themselves? Are there “bottlenecks” in the company that I can resolve by adopting different approaches?
- The value for the customer and customer satisfaction are in the focus: The following questions are crucial: Do I consider the aspect “customer satisfaction” sufficiently in my company? How quickly do I create initial value for the customer, how do I reduce the risk of moving away from “customer value”? Do the contracts with my suppliers fit when customer feedback is critical, not meeting a delivered specification at project start?
- Culture change through transparency: We experience with our customers how much the creation of transparency in the company enables a culture change. Transparency in all directions means that the employee understands the value of his or her work in the context of the company’s strategy. However, it also means that the status of a development, i.e. risks and problems, are visible at all levels. This way they can be openly discussed and resolved. Culture change has a lot to do with enabling and creating trust.