We talked to Alok Dimri, co-founder of Benzne, about remote agile transformation engagements, and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Alok Dimri: Thank you for the concern. We are doing good. India has managed the pandemic relatively well, in my opinion. The pandemic is not over yet, though, and I hope we continue the good work.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Benzne.
Alok Dimri: I started as a Software Engineer with Infosys, a role I was not much enthused about & so I moved to client-facing roles, including sales, business development, and account management after my MBA more than a decade ago. I have had in the past ten years managed various key clients as part of Prometric and QAI. In my last role, I was managing Agile and DevOps consulting-led engagements. Co-founding Benzne with Anuj Ojha (Anuj is an Agile consultant) was an organic progression. Our core reason to start Benzne was to drive business outcome-led Agile and DevOps transformation journeys. We wanted to create a niche in the market, go beyond the usual framework-driven approach and create genuine success stories which impact business rather than implement industry best practices.
How does Benzne innovate?
Alok Dimri: Innovation is BAU for a consulting company. No two clients are the same; no two scenarios are the same; no two teams are the same; in fact, no two individuals are the same! We start all our engagement by understanding the specific client context – culture, business drivers, team dynamics, dependencies, and current state. A transformation roadmap is then created, with constant validation from the business stakeholders, using a mix of various tools and methodologies we feel will be a good starting point. We inspect and adapt, like good Agilists, as we move along. It’s also important to publish success stories at regular intervals to gain the confidence of teams and management and then take everyone’s buy-in to scale what has worked. There is no single formula, and our consultants always have ears on the ground and head on their shoulders!
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Alok Dimri: There was an impact on some of the client engagement when the pandemic started last year, there was too much uncertainty, and clients were reluctant to start new engagements just at the onset of a lockdown. However, our existing engagements coped really well with remote work environments, and there were no hiccups in transitioning to remote ways of working. Collaboration platforms ensured that there was no drop in interactions & a plethora of tools & platforms enabled us to keep the momentum intact. We saw a resurgence in the consulting pipeline from Nov-Dec last year. This number is growing as more clients get proficient in managing their usual business activities using remote teams.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Alok Dimri: We started out in a very organic manner and with full awareness of what we are getting into, so I would say there were no surprises as such. Dedication, persistence, integrity, and exceptional impact creation over the long term and in every single engagement are instrumental in building a brand. It’s a slow process and takes time and effort. At the same time, course-correction is important to utilize your time and effort in the best possible way. One of the areas where we have struggled is getting the right talent, which is a common concern for bootstrapped businesses. Lack of genuine Agile and DevOps ‘practitioners’ with a consultative mindset has also contributed to this. However, our benchmarks continue to be very high, and we are working very aggressively to solve this as we scale.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Alok Dimri: We used a mix of various collaborative tools across the gamut, from Zoom & MS Teams to Ideaboardz, Jamboard, Miro, Mural, PlanITpoker, Mentimeter, and others. It’s important to timebox events and meetings in a remote working scenario to avoid burnout, which will impact productivity.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Alok Dimri: We are a small niche player passionate about outcome-led Agile and DevOps transformations. We know what we do and are comfortable in our skin. At the same time, we invest time and effort to keep ourselves at the forefront of all developments, trends around process-led transformations. We are quite confident that what we bring to the table is unique and adds substantial business value. We have a strong word-of-mouth marketing channel, good repeat business, and a healthy pipeline. Remote engagements have also opened new geographies for us, and we intend to make the most of it.
Your final thoughts?
Alok Dimri: It was a pleasure interacting with Startup.info. It’s a great platform for young and emerging businesses to tell their story. We wish you all the best. As part of giving back to the community, we regularly publish our learnings and experiences on our company blog. Please feel free to use the same while driving agile and DevOps initiatives in your organizations.
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