Winning the Customer with Experience Architecture

 Experience Architecture

As the post-digital economy begins to boom and the worlds of business process and technology come together, it’s time to think about how we optimize the whole from a unified, customer-centric perspective. Some organizations have begun to master the idea of experience architecture, whereas others are just beginning.

During my years consulting, I’ve had the opportunity to work with complex system architecture. Such as the APIs and data structures across multiple federal agencies that manage annual earnings and death records for every person in the United States. I’ve also experienced complex business architectures responsible for moving passengers, aircraft, and cargo around the world in a safe and predictable manner.

What was obvious to me in these and other scenarios was that there was no way we could treat the disciplines of business architecture and technical architecture as independent variables. Especially if these organizations hoped to keep up with the speed of innovation. In early experiments, I hypothesized that by pairing business architects with their peer application architects, we could better design experiments to achieve business outcomes that were efficient and technically sound. My hypothesis was partially proven. There were still missing pieces of the equation.

In later experiments, I treated the various architects in the value stream as an Agile team composed of all architectural perspectives that we needed to deliver the solution. Those perspectives included business architecture, application architecture, systems architecture, data architecture, information security, and even Lean Six Sigma Black Belts to help keep the group focused on flow efficiency. That experiment had some cool outcomes, though I had come to realize one obvious hole: the lack of consideration for the people in the system. We needed a different skill set. We needed experience in architecture.

Curated Experiences and Powerful Moments

In their book The Power of Moments, Chip and Dan Heath give many examples of how people remember exceptionally good and exceptionally poor experiences. The authors illustrate how average experiences are largely forgettable. Conversely, experiences that are repeated merge together so that customers develop a general perception of the experiences, but don’t remember any experience in particular.

My family visits Disney. A lot.

 Experience Architecture

Before I met my wife, I’d been to Disney World twice in my life. Once when I was eight and again as a teenager. I have fond memories of each trip and can remember specific moments. These were positive experiences and here’s why.

Since having met my wife, I’ve been to Disney an average of twice annually and as many as four times in a single year. Each of those experiences has been positive, but I can’t articulate why. I know that I enjoy Animal Kingdom and the Avatar ride in Pandora. I know that the Magic Kingdom gives me anxiety and that you can get prosecco at Epcot. Unlike the trips of my youth which are memorable, not a single visit as an adult stands out. The experiences have merged.

My Disney experience is what most customers experience as they interact with our value streams. The customer will form a general feeling and only talk about the experience: if it was exceptionally good or exceptionally bad.

Need proof? Check out the reviews on Amazon or Google. You’re likely to see mostly very positive and very negative reviews without much in the middle. There is power in moments. The moments are what we remember and they can be curated when an organization makes investments in experience architecture.

Map Value Streams and Understand the Experience

Similar to the steps of value stream identification and business architecture, the first step in articulating a customer experience is to map the operational value stream. With alignment on how the business operates, the next step in understanding the customer experience is to visualize the technology that supports the operation and the development value streams that maintain the technology. Speaking of value streams, check out this cool webinar where I talk about them with Danny Presten.

With the value streams mapped, the next step is to embark on a journey to optimize the whole by eliminating technical and operational debt. With the help of business architecture, we can leverage the time focused on improvement to begin identifying opportunities for large-scale improvement in operational throughput. Additionally, the organization can begin investing in capability modeling with the goal of running more experiments for strategy implementation, faster.

With the operational value stream mapped, the underlying architecture understood, and a commitment made to relentless improvement, we can now begin exploring the customer experience.

Map the Experience

Now that we’re ready to map the customer experience, we begin by seeking to better understand the customer. SAFe® advocates using design thinking as a framework for customer centricity to best use personas, empathy maps, and experience maps. The art of experience mapping follows similar best practices used in other forms of value stream mapping. The distinct difference is that we engage with customers to understand their journey from their perspective.

Below is an example of an experience map that depicts the experience of an online public learner in the SAFe ecosystem. At the top, you’ll notice the phases of the customer journey, followed by the operational value stream. We continue by seeking to understand the customer’s goal within each component of the value stream, the touchpoints that Scaled Agile has with the customer, and finally, the customer’s happiness after having completed the operational component.

Similar to other types of value stream mapping, with the customer experience articulated, we can now start on a path to relentlessly improve the customer experience and curate memorable moments.

 Experience Architecture

Curate Unforgettable Moments

The Heath brothers explain the power of moments as a key theme in their book. For me, the true power of moments became evident when I purchased a new home in July of 2020. Veterans United Home Loans has made a significant investment in its customer experience and has taken advantage of the power of moments. The proof? The fact that nearly a year later I am blogging about my mortgage experience.

If you’ve ever bought a home, you can probably empathize when I say that it’s a stressful experience. In any mortgage transaction there are two particularly stressful phases for future homeowners: approval, and more notably, underwriting. Through their work in experience mapping, Veterans United was able to recognize this and curate moments to help ease the stress a little. When I received the approval for my home, my mortgage broker, Molly (do you remember the name of your mortgage broker?), sent me a pair of Veterans United socks.

 Experience Architecture

Yes, socks. They weren’t the best quality, they were kind of corny, but they made me smile and I’m still talking about them. Moment curated. 

When I closed underwriting, the curated moment was a little more personal. Molly had done her homework and knew that I liked to barbecue. So, she sent me a nice set of outdoor cooking utensils. As you sit there and ponder the ROI on socks and cooking tools, remember that you now know about Molly and Veterans United. ROI achieved. 

What low-cost, high-impact moments can you curate for your customers? How can you turn an otherwise forgettable experience into something that people remember for years to come? These actions are key to winning in the post-digital economy. Consumers want to know your organization is human. They want to know that you care. What can you do to help make that connection?

Experience Architecture: Conclusion

Success in the post-digital economy will require business agility and a clear focus on the customer. Experience architecture is something organizations should employ to better understand the customer so they can release on demand, as determined by the market and customer.

If you’re an experienced experience architect, consider sharing your stories in our General SAFe Discussion Group on the SAFe Community Platform. To learn more about working with varying architectural disciplines, while maximizing the amount of work not done, and embracing a just enough, just-in-time approach, check out these architectural runway articles.

About Adam Mattis

Adam Mattis is a SAFe Program Consultant Trainer (SPCT)

Adam Mattis is a SAFe Program Consultant Trainer (SPCT) at Scaled Agile with many years of experience overseeing SAFe implementations across a wide range of industries. He’s also an experienced transformation architect, engaging speaker, energetic trainer, and a regular contributor to the broader Lean-Agile and educational communities. Learn more about Adam at adammattis.com.

View all posts by Adam Mattis

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Next: Aligning Global Teams Through Agile Program Management: A Case Study

Achieving Business Agility – Incorporating DevOps into a SAFe Transformation

Safe Business Agility

In this podcast episode learn how Intel is achieving business agility by streamlining data, as well as implementing Agile and DevOps. Hear how optimizing value streams helped an organization for successful business agility and answer questions about incorporating DevOps into a SAFe transformation.

Click the “Subscribe” button to subscribe to the SAFe Business Agility podcast on Apple Podcasts

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SAFe in the News

Enterprise Architecture – Its relevance and importance

By Hiren Disai, Director Technology, Kaiser Permanente

Full article

SAFe in the Trenches

Hear Marc Rix share with our listeners an example of a company that did a good job integrating Architecture into its SAFe initiatives and what they did right.

To learn more about how SAFe addresses the needs of Architects and Architecture, visit scaledagile.com/safe-for-architects

Audio CoP

The Audio Community of Practice section of the show is where we answer YOUR most frequently asked and submitted questions. If you have a question for us to answer on air, please send it to podcast@scaledagile.com

The two questions we answer in this episode are:

  • Has anyone successfully run an Inspect & Adapt session with a distributed team? Specifically, the problem solving workshop?
  • What is the best way to measure the performance of an Agile Release Train and its impact on the organization

Hosted by: Melissa Reeve

Melissa Reeve is the Vice President of Marketing at Scaled Agile

Melissa Reeve is the Vice President of Marketing at Scaled Agile, Inc. In this role, Melissa guides the marketing team, helping people better understand Scaled Agile, the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) and its mission.

Intel & business agility using data, Value Stream Optimization with DevOps, Systems Architects and the ART

Safe Business Agility Podcast Cover Image

Learn how Intel is achieving business agility by streamlining data, as well as implementing Agile and DevOps. Hear how optimizing value streams helped an organization and answer questions about incorporating DevOps into a SAFe transformation.

Click the “Subscribe” button to subscribe to the SAFe Business Agility podcast on Apple Podcasts

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SAFe in the News

Scaling Agile, adopting AI: How Intel is making IT a strategic part of the business

By Stephanie Condon and published on ZDNet

Full article

SAFe in the Trenches

Hear Marc Rix share an experience from the field where you worked with an organization on Value stream optimization and how that impacted their DevOps initiative.

To learn more DevOps and Release on Demand – one of the Core Competencies of a Lean Enterprise, visit scaledagileframework.com

Audio CoP

The Audio Community of Practice section of the show is where we answer YOUR most frequently asked and submitted questions. If you have a question for us to answer on air, please send it to podcast@scaledagile.com

The two questions we answer in this episode are:

  • How do you adopt DevOps in SAFe? Do you form a separate team or incorporate into Agile teams?
  • What is a DevOps engineer?

Hosted by: Melissa Reeve

Melissa Reeve is the Vice President of Marketing at Scaled Agile

Melissa Reeve is the Vice President of Marketing at Scaled Agile, Inc. In this role, Melissa guides the marketing team, helping people better understand Scaled Agile, the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) and its mission.

SAFe and Architecture – Identifying Value Streams and WSJF

Safe Business Agility

In this SAFe Business Agility podcast episode learn how SAFe embraces architectural roles, the struggles around identifying value streams and the meaning behind WSJF. You will also learn the minimum an organization can implement and still call it SAFe.

Click the “Subscribe” button to subscribe to the SAFe Business Agility podcast on Apple Podcasts

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SAFe in the News

From business strategies to successful IT delivery

Daniel Lambert, CIO.com (ICN)
Full article

  • Architects and agile teams often work in silos to the detriment of organizations
  • Architects can prioritize strategic initiatives from other initiatives by identifying key but problematic business capabilities using value streams and several measurement techniques. Architects can also decompose value stages defining a value stream into sub value-stages and breakdown business capabilities into sub-capabilities several levels deep for further exploration, refinement and precision
  • Finally, architects can detect, signal and eliminate duplicated sub-projects or sprints that can appear in different Agile Release Trains (‘ART’).
  • Business and enterprise architects can be instrumental in the delivery of sophisticated projects with their ability to accomplish these following four tasks:
    • Prioritize strategic initiatives,
    • Decompose high level value stream/value stages and business capabilities,
    • Assist in defining epics and user stories using architecture model elements, and finally
    • Eliminate sub-projects or sprints duplicates.

Want to learn how System, Solution, and Enterprise Architects can engage SAFe across the organization to collaboratively deliver architectural solutions? Check out the new SAFe for Architects course at  scaledagile.com/architects

SAFe in the Trenches

We discuss Value Stream identification, the issues with it and how to overcome common struggles.
Current SPCs – don’t forget the Value Stream and DevOps Workshop Toolkits are available for you to download at community.scaledagile.com

Audio CoP

The Audio Community of Practice section of the show is where we answer YOUR most frequently asked and submitted questions. If you have a question for us to answer on air, please send it to podcast@scaledagile.com
The two questions we answer in this episode are:

  • What is WSJF and why is it a critical part of SAFe?
  • Can SAFe be customized and if so, how?

Hosted by: Melissa Reeve

Melissa Reeve is the Vice President of Marketing at Scaled Agile

Melissa Reeve is the Vice President of Marketing at Scaled Agile, Inc. In this role, Melissa guides the marketing team, helping people better understand Scaled Agile, the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) and its mission.

Hosted by: Joe Vallone

Joe Vallone is an experienced Agile Coach and Trainer

Joe Vallone is an experienced Agile Coach and Trainer and has been involved in the Lean and Agile communities since 2002. Mr. Vallone has helped coach several large-scale Agile transitions at Zynga, Apple, Microsoft, VCE, Nokia, AT&T, and American Airlines. Prior to founding Agile Business Connect, Joe Vallone served as an Agile Coach at Ciber, CTO/CIO of We The People, and the VP of Engineering for Telogical Systems.

TomTom – Implementing SAFe in Consumer Electronics

Implementing SAFe in Consumer Electronics

“There is no doubt in my mind that without SAFe and Rally we would not have launched this in only 140 days. It is also our best new product ever.”

Industry:

Consumer Electronics

Introduction

Best known for being a global leader in navigation and mapping products, TomTom also creates GPS sports watches, as well as state-of-the-art fleet management solutions and industry-leading location-based products. They are the mapping provider for Apple Maps, and the maps and traffic data provider for Uber drivers in over 300 cities worldwide. Headquartered in Amsterdam, TomTom generates 1 billion euros in annual revenue, with 4,600 employees worldwide.

In 2012, the organization was facing a number of challenges:

  • Organised as waterfall projects
  • Many projects working in all parts of the code with minimal module or component ownership
  • Many releases are months-quarters late
  • Multiple code lines and branches
  • Negligible automated testing & no continuous integration
  • “downstream” teams spend 3,4,5 months accepting the code and often changing it
  • Poor visibility and facts-based decision-making

After reading Dean Leffingwell’s Agile Software Requirements—their SVP read it cover-to-cover on his vacation—they decided to transition to SAFe. Their first step was to provide SAFe training for their CTO, SVPs, and 50 CSMs and CPOs. From there they began reorganizing from the Scrum teams up, arranging product clusters and component Scrum teams around the idea of one Agile Release Train (ART) per product.

Six months into the transition, they were given a previously unheard of goal of a 126-day launch cycle for their 4th generation of consumer navigation products. This put SAFe to the test, as it cut their development time down almost two thirds from what was previously a 1-year cycle. Launching 5 ARTs—1 product each—they assigned 4-14 teams to each train, working across multiple locations.

Highlights of SAFe Benefits

Implementing SAFe in Consumer Electronics
  • Reliable and predictable releases of production code
  • Fail fast (<2 weeks) is better than after 6 months
  • Detect/prevent issues with each new submission
  • No bottleneck at the end
  • Reduces waste as others stay up to date
  • Improved transparency and info sharing
  • Teams establish ways of working & esprit du corps
  • Improves estimating by allowing historical comparisons
  • Team controls their own commitments
  • Sustainable development

Today SAFe is practiced by all of TomTom’s large product teams representing navigation software, online services, map creation and sports software. That represents approximately 750 FTEs, with 200+ trained and certified in SAFe.

Their 32-page case study is well worth the read as it summarizes their experience over a 5-year period, revealing both wins and challenges. Their breakdown of the “Good” the “Bad,” and the “Ugly,” makes it particularly interesting for any large enterprise wanting to understand the ins and outs of a real world SAFe adoption.

A special thanks to TomTom’s  James Janisse, VP Connected Navigation System, and Han Schaminee, SVP Location Technology Products, for sharing your story.

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Suggested Case Study:

Air France- KLM

Accenture – Benefits of SAFe in Professional Services

Accenture - Benefits of SAFe in Professional Services

Enhanced SAFe processes are key to attaining solution alignment between different scrum teams.

Industry:

Professional Services

The partner that made it happen:

Introduction

As many companies struggle to implement Agile at scale in distributed environments, this case study describes Accenture’s experience enabling faster delivery and speed-to-market by implementing Agile programs using SAFe, along with adoption of DevOps principles. 

Accenture - Benefits of SAFe in Professional Services

Accenture is a $30 billion global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with more than 336,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, named by Fortune magazine as one of the top 100 companies to work for from 2009-2015. As part of their effort to accelerate software delivery, Accenture has adopted Agile and DevOps on a large scale across its Global Delivery Network, leveraging the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) with a range of tools. In addition, Accenture helps its clients successfully shift to Agile development using SAFe along with DevOps to drive high performance.

In the provided case study, Accenture shares its insights on addressing process, organization, and tool challenges, including:

  • Solution misalignment between teams
  • Integration of Agile with Waterfall
  • Different timezones, customs, and cross-team activities
  • Different DevOps tools between teams

Early Quantitative Benefits

The early benefits are compelling:

  • 50% improvement in merge and retrofit (based on the actual effort tracked)
  • 63% improvement in software configuration management (effort to support SCM activities)
  • 59% improvement in quality costs (percentage of defects attributed to SCM and deployment)
  • 90% improvement in build and deployment (process and effort to raise deployment requests)

Early Qualitative Benefits

  • Improved demand management and traceability from portfolio through to Agile delivery teams
  • Granular configuration management and traceability
  • Integration with Agile lifecycle tools to allow story-based, configuration management driven from meta data
  • Real-time traceability of status for build and deployment
  • Automated build and deployments, including “one-button deployment”
  • Developer efficiencies as a consequence of improved tool interaction times and processes

Many thanks to Accenture’s Mirco Hering, APAC lead for DevOps and Agile, Andrew Ball, senior manager, and Ajay Nair, APAC Agile lead for Accenture Digital, for taking the time to share their insights and learnings. Their story is an inspiration to all of us in the SAFe community.

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Suggested Case Study: Royal Philips