Medium-Sized Insurance Company
The Challenge: Shortly after the organization completed their transition from a Waterfall approach to software development to an Agile approach, a large project with impacts to every business-critical application was initiated. They realized that they needed to scale their Agile approach and selected the SAFe framework. The organization was struggling to adopt such a large amount of change, while also trying to tailor SAFe’s Release Train concepts to a smaller number of participants. The development teams were being pushed to adopt a more adaptable mindset, while business executives continued to ask for certainty around the same metrics as they had during Waterfall days. Overall, development teams were change-saturated and struggling with mixed messages, leading to under-performance; business executives were excited about the flexibility Agile development promised, but were not ready to give up certainty they had become accustomed to.
The Solution: After an initial period of working with several of the development teams and provided targeted coaching to ensure successful delivery of key efforts, an assessment of product delivery across the entire organization was performed. In addition to a few team-specific findings, patterns were clear, and recommendations were made at the organization, program, portfolio, and team levels. Both process-specific and role-specific training was developed; where appropriate, Scrum teams were converted to Kanban teams; revisions were made to Program Increment planning, and backlogs and dashboards were built to provide transparency. Targeted individual and team coaching also continued.
The Results: Within a year of engaging with the organization, teams had increased their productivity, achieved a predictable velocity, and were delivering more often. Total feature-related releases increased 50% from the year before. The organization had chosen to delay implementing some of the more intrusive recommendations, including team re-arrangements, organizational changes, and personnel changes. Subsequent follow-ups with the organization indicate that several of these recommendations had been implemented over time, with positive results in the adoption of the Agile mindset and ability for the organization to absorb change.
· Feature-related releases increased by 50%, delivering value to the business more quickly and more often
· Team velocity variability decreased significantly, making delivery more predictable
· Cross-team feature-release planning incorporated into Program Increment planning, improving business readiness and communication