Agile Training and Coaching in the Public Sector

Agile Training


City of York Council

Project Background

The Digital Development team is a relatively new team operating within the City of York Council’s ICT Department. They provide digital solutions for both internal uses by City of York Council employees and partners, and for external uses by members of the public in York and beyond.

City of York Council engaged with McKenna Consultants with a view to gain a deeper understanding of Agile software development methods. The goal was to educate, empower and provide the Digital Development team with the tools and methods that they needed to work smarter, more efficiently and with a constant focus on delivering value. This was a unique Agile training and coaching project as the Digital Development team was a small team, but operating within a huge organisation, with tens of departments and stakeholders all holding an interest in their output.

This case study is focused around small teams within large organisations.

The Challenge

The Digital Development team at City of York Council faced many challenges, some common to new teams starting out on their Agile journey, and other specific to team working in their environment.

Some of the challenges faced by the team were:

  • Lack of clear product ownership and responsibility
  • Lots of “noise” around the team
  • Difficulties getting hold of the key stakeholders for a project due to hectic schedules
  • No visibility of what the team were working on to the wider organisation
  • Educating the wider organisation in what the team delivers

The Solution

McKenna Consultants and the Digital Development team at the City of York Council used the Agile coaching days in the subsequent days following the initial Introduction to Agile Software Development course to focus on some of the challenges that they faced.

The initial “Introduction To Agile Software Development” training course was the perfect place to start for the Digital Development team. This ensured that the team shared a level understanding of Agile before moving forward with their new ideas and methodology. The course is delivered in a consultative style by an experience Agile Consultant, which provides a perfect opportunity for McKenna Consultants and the team to understand the challenges that they face and how they can start to think to conquer them.

Immediately following the training course, 4 days of Agile coaching was proposed, on site with the team. Some of the things covered in this is:


McKenna Consultants travelled from their Harrogate offices to the nearby, newly refurbished City of York Council offices, just inside the old City walls. All of the training and coaching was deliver in person, on site.

McKenna Consultants delivered a structured and effective Agile training and coaching programme tailored to the Digital Development team of the City of York Council. The training programme was delivered by our Senior Agile Consultants and Agile Consultants.

The project was structured in our recommended Agile training and coaching template, perfect for teams who are new to Agile, consisting of:

  • Day 1: Introduction to Agile Software Development training course
  • Day 2: Team Coaching
  • Day 3: Team Coaching
  • Day 4: Agile Retrospectives and Team Coaching
  • Follow Up Day (usually after the first sprint): Team Review and Consultancy

From our years of experience, we know that it is vital to undertake team coaching sessions immediately following the initial training course. This ensures that the team have the chance to work with one of our experienced coaches to experiment with ideas from the course and increase their chances of fully embracing, implanting and embedding an Agile mind-set and way of working within their team.

Like many software development functions we are made up of people who’ve enjoyed varying exposure to Agile, and whilst we had already begun to work in a ‘relatively’ Agile manner there were numerous holes in our processes. What struck me most when engaging with McKenna Consultants was the speed that they were able to adapt the training and coaching elements to our unique blend of this existing knowledge, our business context and our aspirations as a team. I’m sure this stems from the fact that they are an Agile development function in their own right. This was certainly a breath of fresh air compared to much of the learning we commission and I would, therefore, be more than happy to endorse the Agile training and coaching provided by McKenna Consultants.

Simon Donnelly, ICT Digital Manager