Taking Small Steps to Deliver Big Value

How Japan’s Advantest Corporation empowered teams to achieve business agility

For global enterprises, finding a common language isn’t just about speaking. It’s a path forward to business agility. 

Advantest Corporation recently discovered this firsthand. Advantest provides test systems for semiconductor and electronic component industries. It is a business that has endured for over 50 years, partly because of its willingness to innovate and modernize. Headquartered in Tokyo, Advantest was looking for a way to break out of silos and collaborate across continents.  

“The most decisive factor was that we had a development base in Germany which just started implementing SAFe. So we decided to introduce SAFe as a common language for software development worldwide,” explains Hiroshi Araki, Deputy Division Manager at Advantest Corporation. “We want to achieve business agility in a tangible way in the end. But we know we need to take some steps before that happens.”

Recently, Araki and two others from Advantest shared their journey with SAFe through videos, which we’ve linked throughout the blog. We encourage you to watch these videos to get the whole story. We’ve summarized the biggest takeaways in the following sections.

PI Planning: Making the Vision Transparent

Advantest says their first step was to share the SAFe vision with teams and make everything transparent. They did this through their first PI Planning event with all the stakeholders present. They set up a Lean-Agile Center of Excellence (LACE) team and began with a product being built by about 50 people. Quickly, they grew to two Agile Release Trains (ARTs) and more than 100 people practicing SAFe. 

Shinichi Ishikawa, Software Department Manager at Advantest Corporation, explains: “With so much to do up to the day of the PI planning, we sometimes got unsure if we would make it a success. By following the Implementation Roadmap, we managed to launch a LACE team with the help of our partner TDC Soft. Sometimes our preparation got stuck by overthinking things. That’s why, in the first PI, we concentrated on just getting the plan on the planning board first. It affected us well to take small steps instead of trying to be perfect from the beginning.”

Empowering Teams

To ensure SAFe is not a top-down mandate, Advantest focuses on empowering teams and allowing them to self-organize. Before SAFe, organizational policies were created at the department level. 

“Now with SAFe, we talk about policies within the entire ART at the PI planning. This has brought together the mindsets of the people who are involved in the products within the ART,” explains Ishikawa. “An atmosphere has developed among us where we work beyond existing organizations by owning awareness of challenges toward shared objectives.”

After just two rounds of PI planning, Advantest reports that their development environment is less siloed, has better visibility, and is better positioned to visualize results such as improving efficiency and quality, relentless innovation, and greater business agility.

Building Trust

Even before adopting SAFe, Advantest had laid some of the groundwork. 

“We already had the foundation for SAFe, since we had been using the Scrum approach for team development for years,” Ishikawa explains. “So I made an effort to first give members a sense of SAFe, while trying not to disrupt each team’s own methods. I tried to find improvement as a whole while taking advantage of each team’s characteristics.” 

Ishikawa says he interviewed each team member to learn about their challenges and suggestions for improvement. 

“SAFe’s practices have brought transparency to areas where the organizational structure was not working in the past,” he said.

Not the Only Way, But the Smartest

Ultimately, management acknowledges that SAFe isn’t the only way to do business. Still, for their teams, it’s the best option. 

“Although SAFe isn’t the only way, it’s such an effective one among many management methods … SAFe is filled with experience and wisdom of leaders around the world. It enables us to focus on the core task of increasing the value of our products,” says Ishikawa.

Hear more from Araki and Ishikawa in these management and transformation leader interviews. 
Find a partner for your transformation here.

B3, the Brazilian Stock Exchange, Aligns Teams and Delivers Faster with SAFe

How do you adapt your organization’s culture so it’s more responsive to customer needs and can compete with emerging alternatives without disrupting what’s working or adding unnecessary layers of complexity—all while undergoing a major paradigm-shifting merger? This was the challenge facing Latin America’s largest stock exchange, B3 S/A Brasil Bolsa Balcao (B3), back in 2019.

Recently, Marcio Tambelini, SPC and Lean Agile Transformation Coordinator at B3, sat down with us at the 2023 SAFe® Summit Nashville to discuss his organization’s journey with SAFe over the past few years. He talked candidly about the challenges that led to B3 considering Agile methodologies, what motivated them to adopt the Scaled Agile Framework®, and their results. 

  • Challenges
  • Process
  • Results
Leaders at B3 gather in person to prioritize and align work for the PI as part of the Brazilian company’s multi-year SAFe initiative.


Every organization has its own operating culture and norms. In the case of a merger, the challenge becomes combining those norms and establishing a new, unified way of working. 

This was the situation facing B3 in 2019. At that point, B3 was two years into a merger that had ushered in a new era of its history. BM&FBOVESPA, a leading regional exchange, had joined forces with CETIP, a merger securities clearinghouse, creating B3. The combination positioned B3 as a key player in Latin America’s financial landscape. But it also created a need for shared values and common goals. 

“We had a distance between these areas, and every area had different problems,” said Tambelini.

A growing number of competitors were also emerging in the Brazilian market, putting additional pressure on B3 to deliver new features, capture new markets, and respond to challenges faster and more predictably. 

When leaders started exploring options for improving their culture, they were drawn to Agile for its focus on speed and collaboration. They were also interested in SAFe to provide the necessary training for scaling Agile practices.

“We decided that Agile would bring us common objectives and common challenges,” said Tambelini. “This was very important for us because each area had personal problems and personal challenges. So we decided to work together, and Agile methodology was the best way to resolve this problem for us.”

Leaders at B3 gather in person to prioritize and align work for the PI as part of the Brazilian company’s multi-year SAFe initiative.


B3 started small with one Portfolio, using SAFe to guide the adoption of Agile principles at scale. In 2021, after proving the value of the Agile approach, they decided to upgrade to a SAFe Enterprise subscription. This would allow them to make training and resources available to the entire organization and better align the Agile adoption of separate teams. 

By 2023, Agile practices had spread throughout B3. They had formed 32 value streams, with 121 Agile teams and more than 1,400 people working in those value streams. They had also begun expanding Agile values beyond development teams and into the operations side of the business.

“At B3, we’re working toward business agility, not just Agile … there are many initiatives in other areas like Human Resources, infrastructure, finance, and others,” said Tambelini.

He said the creation of value streams was particularly important to leaders because before, the various parts of B3 had functioned with different challenges and objectives, making it hard to track progress and align efforts. Value streams enabled them to see how each part of the organization played a critical role in delivering a product or service to the market.

Another way B3 brought teams together was by adopting shared metrics like Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) and key performance indicators (KPIs). They also shifted their mindset from “projects” to “products” to help teams better visualize the customer and focus on the end value delivered. 

“This has given us the opportunity to enhance our customer-centric approach, delivering products and services that align more closely with their needs,” said Tambelini.

Leaders at B3 gather in person to prioritize and align work for the PI as part of the Brazilian company’s multi-year SAFe initiative.


Tambelini said the results have been overwhelmingly positive, helping to secure B3’s position as the leading stock exchange in Latin America. 

“All the portfolios that we started in the last two or three years had many kinds of good results, especially when we’re talking about the clients,” he said. 

One of the biggest benefits has been the ability to deliver value to clients in a much shorter time cycle. Before, delivering a new product or feature could take up to a year. Now, B3 developers can roll out new features for clients throughout the year, much faster than was previously possible.

Within B3’s largest portfolio, which represented 70 percent of their revenue, the challenge had become managing layers of complexity among clients, markets, and regulators. So before proposing any drastic changes, leaders started by mapping out the interdependencies among platforms and teams. 

Their initial priority with this portfolio was to bring alignment and transparency to the work. They chose to adopt Lean Portfolio Management (LPM) because they believed that starting at the top and focusing on the financial aspect among leaders and stakeholders would bring much-needed clarity and direction to the rest of the process.

“Our understanding grew, and we identified points of contact and bottlenecks,” said Tambelini. “We proposed value streams that could bring productivity gains and increase deliveries to the clients.”

Instead of budgeting for projects, they began budgeting for products, enabling B3 to increase speed and become more responsive as an organization.

“This action has been instrumental in our evolution, leading to significant gains with both customers and regulators,” he said. “We’re able to respond to new challenges, become more efficient, increase customer experience, and capture new markets.”

Juan Saldivar, Latin America business development director at Scaled Agile, Inc., said B3’s journey is one of many inspiring examples of how SAFe is helping businesses in the LATAM region transform, compete, and become more customer-centric.

“On the development side, they’ve seen shorter cycles, and, in one product release that I know of, they were able to get ten times the expected number of customers,” said Saldivar. “I think they realized the power of SAFe when building new solutions and new products and getting an attractive solution to market.”


B3’s adoption of SAFe has proven highly successful, enabling leaders to overcome merger challenges and dynamic market pressures and begin to operate as one organization. Starting with one portfolio in 2019 and then expanding in the following years, they’ve been able to reduce delivery times and increase the value created. Their story proves the importance of approaching change intentionally, holistically, and with the customer at the center. 

Check out these additional resources to learn more:

MetLife — Embracing Agility in Financial Services

MetLife is one of 12 Fortune 500 companies to thrive for over 150 years. Met has a scale and a proud history … and the many challenges of incumbency including legacy systems and challenges to speed. Agile is quickly being embraced as the way to achieve speed in innovation for MetLife after adopting SAFe.

In this 45-minute video, Cheryl Crupi shares the story of how a small team sold MetLife’s new CEO and his new executive group on Agility. This short, immersive session enabled this executive group to experience Agile for themselves and resulted in a third of the group to request individual follow-up on how they can embrace Agility, including HR, Legal, Marketing and regional business presidents.

Presented at 2019 Global SAFe Summit by:
Cheryl Crupi
Assistant Vice President, Global LACE

Lockheed Martin – Adoption of SAFe for Agile Transformation

Presented at the 2019 Global SAFe Summit, San Diego Oct. 2, 2019, The F-16 Fighting Falcon is the world’s most successful, combat-proven multi-role fighter with approximately 3,000 operational F-16s in service today in 25 countries. In 2014, new production orders were drying out, and the F-16 production line was in danger of shutting down. Our solution to that problem was the adoption of SAFe to streamline the F-16 Product Development and Engineering in 2015. We overcame a lot of challenges along the way, and made rapid progress initially, but have plateaued. That should come as no surprise though. Our limited implementation showed us limited results. But we are turning this ship around! This year we have really taken stock of our Agile Transformation and implemented several ground-breaking initiatives using SAFe that are changing our landscape. Lockheed has now started a new F-16 production facility in Greenville, South Carolina that is producing F-16s expected to operate to 2070 and beyond!

PepsiCo – Delivering User-centric Design within SAFe

Presented at 2019 Global SAFe Summit, San Diego Oct. 2, 2019

How do the User Design (UX) principles of Simple, Human and Connected guide an ART to interpret and incorporate user centric design (UCD)? What is the ideal operating model for UX design that includes discovery, design and delivery tracks? This talk will provide an overview of the hypotheses applied to deliver user-centric design within the Scaled Agile Framework® at PepsiCo.

Anthem – Enterprise Business Agility

Anthem used an integrated SAFe approach across Agile and DevOps (including Quality Assurance capability) to drive tangible benefits in the form of improvements in quality, time to market and predictability, and increased collaboration between IT and business.

They chose to apply the Scaled Agile Framework incrementally, rather than a big bang rollout. Approaching the problem from both top-down and bottom-up, the SAFe transformation for the enterprise concentrated on one vertical slice at a time working with both Business and IT leaders in an area to enable Lean-Agile practices and provide hands-on coaching and education to drive the adoption of the Agile mindset.

They worked closely with their partners to go beyond just the mechanics of training and coaching with a focus on sustaining the change and moving towards true enterprise business agility.

Easterseals – Adopting SAFe for Agility in IT Department

Presented at 2019 Global SAFe Summit, San Diego Oct. 2, 2019

Easterseals Bay Area, as a non-profit provider of behavioral health therapy, provided a unique challenge and environment for the adoption of SAFe for its IT department. In order to overcome some of the unique challenges of our environment, we embarked on a year-long incremental approach rather than a traditional implementation, adapting techniques and practices as they supported our growth and learning in scaled agility. Additionally, due to a large number of conflicting and dynamic inputs to the teams, we started our SAFe journey to achieve agility at the Portfolio level to get our flow and capacity under control while we developed the knowledge and maturity of our agile teams underneath. We will share with you how we took this innovative trail by focusing on mindset and principles that would enable the business and teams to partner with us without the initial intimidation of a radically new framework and terminology.

Standard Bank: The Journey to Agile at Scale

The Journey to Agile at Scale

Presented at 2017 SAFe Summit by Alex Keyter, Lean-Agile Coach at Standard Bank

Standard Bank embarked on a transformation journey in 2014 with IT initiating approximately 600 projects annually to help keep the bank at the leading edge. Historically, teams completed only a small percentage of projects within the defined timeframe, budget, and scope.

A visit to Silicon Valley’s top technology companies by our IT executives triggered the start of a number of Lean Agile proof-of-concepts, showcasing the potential of Agility in the enterprise. However, their efforts stalled when they attempted to expand beyond a few development teams working in isolation.

With a clear IT strategy in place, the bank turned to the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®), and gained support from executives to forge ahead with deploying the Scaled Agile Framework across the organization. Prior to launching the first Agile Release Train, significant time was spend on designing Portfolios, Programs and Teams. Standard Bank also initiated programs that focused on transforming management and leadership; developing a culture that fosters autonomy mastery and purpose; and re-skilling individuals to return to the heart of IT as software engineers, quality engineers, and user experience analysts.

With a large number of ARTs already in their third and fourth Program Increment, the value of the transformation is tangible with motivated staff producing quality, more frequent, predictable delivery. Coupled with the successes, Standard Bank drives continuous improvement through role maturity, enhanced engineering capability and ART optimization.

Read the full case study.