FedEx – Interview With CIO Rob Carter with Dean Leffingwell

How SAFe and Business Agility helped FedEx respond to the impacts and opportunities of COVID-19

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In this interview with Dean Leffingwell, FedEx CIO Rob Carter shares a rare look inside the world’s largest express transportation company. Rob describes their seven-year journey with SAFe and Agile, their approach to business agility and Lean Portfolio Management, and why alignment between the business and IT is so critical. Turning to the business impacts of the pandemic, Rob described how the company quickly responded to a dramatic increase in package volumes and application demand with a workforce working largely from home with the help of SAFe and Agile.

“One of the things that the pandemic has really presented to us is a set of rapid changes in marketplaces and needs, and frankly, you can’t fake it in the face of something like what we’ve all been through in this crazy world.” —Rob Carter.

Presented at the Global SAFe Summit, October, 2020.

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Nokia Software

Customer Interview: SAFe Improves Predictability and Team Collaboration at Nokia Software

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Dean Leffingwell sits down with Juha Rossi and Johanna Reunanen to talk about leading an agile transformation inside one of the world’s most recognizable technology brands. In this candid interview, they share the story behind Nokia Software’s transformation, and what it’s like implementing and practicing SAFe in such a large and complex organization. They also describe the challenges of aligning 40+ ARTs and many solution trains, and how agile practices bring improvements in productivity, customer experience, and quality.

Presented at the Global SAFe Summit, October, 2020

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NTT DATA

Customer Story – NTT DATA: Japanese Payment Services Leader Transforms Organizational Culture and Improves Business Agility with SAFe

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NTNTT DATA brings the first Japanese customer story to the SAFe Summit audience. Headquartered in Tokyo and operating in more than 50 countries as a top 10 global IT services provider, NTT Data turned to SAFe to improve its ability to respond to market demands and stay ahead of a growing number of competitors. In his presentation, Product Manager Takenori Osada describes the difficulty of introducing Agile in Japan, how their culture transformed, and how they applied SAFe in their Payments Services Division and were able to see significant improvements in employee Net Promoter Scores, time-to-market, productivity, and quality.

SAFe is essential for us to be able to compete in the payment market. This resulted in an investment cost advantage.” —Director (Business owner)

Presented at the Global SAFe Summit, October, 2020.

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Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty SE – SAFe Journey

Customer Story – Allianz: AGCS’ SAFe Journey To Become a Data Driven Enterprise

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After multiple mergers, our data systems were disjointed. To add to this, the newest International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS17) is set to go into effect in January 2023, making data management crucial from a regulatory perspective. We implemented the latest version of SAPHANA, a database management system in partnership with Accenture. This brought our data together under a centralized solution while offering near real-time data processing and better reporting and analytics.

SAFe provided the structure we needed to scale Agile in a complex SAP and non-SAP landscape. SAFe allowed us to organize around value and grow seamless integrated cross-functional teams aligned with the company’s long-term strategy. Our SAP DevSecOps automation pipeline helped to reach SAP Delivery Agility which paved the way to build the capabilities needed to reach SAP Business Agility. SAFe addressed the complexities and gave us the framework for building portfolios, roles, and jobs to achieve our goals for customer centricity, speed, and quality. DevSecOps is a mindset, an enterprise-wide culture and practice. We will showcase how Allianz applied the five core concepts of DevSecOps and Release on Demand across the five core concepts and become a Data-Driven Enterprise.

Presented at the Global SAFe Summit, October, 2020.

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Cerno – SAFe Implementation for IT: A Case Study

“We collaborate more than ever with our customers by involving them in planning as much as we can. And we deliver frequent demos—even beyond customers’ expectations. Our customers have found communication to be more effective since the SAFe implementation.”

Sam Wu, Agile Head Coach and Training Director, Cerno

Challenge:

Deliver custom solutions faster and with higher quality for clients.

Industry:

Information Technology, Software

Results:

  • Delivery cycle time dropped by 58%
  • The rate of release failure went down from 0.6 times on average per release to 0
  • The interface automation level increased from zero to 70 percent
  • Reported defects decreased from 13 times per release to five

Best Practices:

  • Power through setbacks – Find solutions and don’t let them stop your momentum.
  • Assess regularly – Inspect & Adapt and DevOps health checks keep teams aware of progress and on track toward goals.
  • Choose a compatible partner – A partner with a business view, not just R&D, moved Cerno ahead with training and coaching.

Introduction

As a custom software factory, Cerno is poised for rapid growth as part of China’s expansive technology market. The company delivers technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing, open source software, and IoT solutions for a diverse range of clients, from logistics to government.

Cerno - SAFe Implementation for IT

To compete effectively, Cerno set out to elevate the speed of delivery, reduce defects, and improve the quality of its solutions in the long term, with the ultimate objective of being more client-focused.

“We needed a next-generation software development method to meet customer needs and reach our goals,” explained Sam Wu, Agile Head Coach and Training Director, Cerno.

Cerno’s founders brought experience in developing software for the financial industry. They found the ‘weak matrix’ structure worked in HR outsourcing, but not so well in product delivery. (A weak matrix is an organizational structure in which the balance of power tilts decisively in the direction of line or functional management.)

And while the traditionally waterfall company had experimented with Lean-Agile development in the past, they lacked the training or business support to build momentum.

SAFe®: The Path from Strategy to Delivery

While attending Leading SAFe® training, a Cerno executive saw a promising path to Agile, leading Cerno to adopt the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe). “It was clear that we needed SAFe to make Cerno a total Agile enterprise, to expand Agile not only to product lines but also to the business and functional departments such as HR and finance,” explained Liu Yilei, VP, Cerno. “We saw SAFe as the model that would take us from strategy to delivery.

“SAFe provided a comprehensive toolkit and an easy way to move forward,” added Wu, who was hired at that time to lead the effort as the internal change agent. At the same time, the company brought in SAFe Gold partner Aura International for coaching and training.

Per the SAFe Implementation Roadmap, James Li, Principal Consultant from Aura, led the SAFe Executive Workshop. Jack Xu, Senior Consultant from Aura, delivered SAFe® for Teams training and helped prepare for the first Program Increment (PI) planning event. They organized teams, reconfigured the office to better support those teams, and reorganized the product plan with user-story mapping.

For the first Agile Release Train launch, they began with four Agile teams—the entire R&D team plus Infrastructure and Operations—on an existing initiative to digitalize a logistics solution for a client.

From that first PI, team leaders embraced the Lean-Agile mindset. They identified priorities based on business value and began allowing people to self-organize. Instead of waiting to be assigned work, developers identified the work based on business objectives, committed to the work in PI Planning, and moved forward with it.

More Stories in Less Time—Despite Setbacks

Though Cerno set out to follow SAFe by the book, they ran into roadblocks that forced mid-course adjustments. In middle of the first PI, the Systems Architect left, leading Cerno to assemble a team to assume his responsibilities.

Additionally, the customer cut some funding because of market forces. And when managers wanted to move some teams to another client project, it nearly stopped the train. Given technical and capacity challenges, Cerno chose to postpone 15 percent of the high-risk PI objectives and scale back the size of the train.

Developers also found it challenging to transition from private to public code, a decision made to reduce bottlenecks in bug fixes and hidden technical debt. As the project team transitioned away from three-week waterfall development, the coaching team helped set code standards. In time, they found that developers took more pride in their code because of its public nature.

Even with the early challenges, the Inspect and Adapt session after the first PI showed the teams had met PI objectives and reduced defects. The ART could produce 45 stories per two-week iteration, on average, by the end of the first PI, compared to 30 stories per three-week iteration in waterfall.

Cerno - SAFe Implementation for IT

Routine DevOps Health Checks

When Cerno first introduced DevOps practices, the company lacked a SAFe DevOps Practitioner. Still, they made progress on a delivery pipeline and staging environment, supported a grayscale release of a product, and shortened the time to release future versions.

Additionally, they formed a new system integration testing (SIT) plan that shrunk testing time by 25 percent initially, and then by half, freeing the development team to put more effort into new features.

To expedite progress, they began conducting DevOps health checks. Early on, those checks uncovered opportunities to improve delivery. To stay on track, they now perform this exercise every PI. With the habit of regular checks, Cerno has made strides with automated testing and continuous integration/continuous deployment.

To support their efforts, they also established Communities of Practice and hold monthly technical workshops for developers.

Delivery Cycle Time Down 58 Percent

Today, Cerno runs two ARTs with 80 people. These high-confidence teams agree on, and begin working on, requirements faster. They communicate and collaborate more tightly than before they introduced SAFe and are continuously improving.

When the ART completed work with one client, they simply switched the train to support another logistics client with a similar solution—effectively a plug-and-play release train. The company then added a second ART to deliver value to another client. Each train continues to serve a single client.

To date, Cerno has made remarkable progress:

  • Delivery cycle time dropped from 3½ weeks to two weeks, or 58 percent
  • The average offline time for a new production environment release decreased from 3½ hours to half an hour
  • The rate of release failure went down from 0.6 times on average per release to 0
  • The interface automation level increased from zero to 70 percent
  • Reported defects decreased from 13 times per release to five

Most importantly, Cerno realized its goal of becoming a more customer-centric organization.

“We collaborate more than ever with our customers by involving them in planning as much as we can. And we deliver frequent demos—even beyond customers’ expectations,” Wu said. “Our customers have found communication to be more effective since the SAFe implementation.

“This is the first SAFe transformation case I have coached in a local company in China,” Li said. “Although there’s still more to improve, it is really a great and wonderful start! It is a significant milestone for SAFe in China.”

Looking ahead, Cerno is building toward agility beyond solution delivery, into administrative management and marketing—to become a total Agile enterprise.

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Suggested Case Study: Amdocs

TV Globo Turned to SAFe

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To accelerate their digital transformation and remain competitive in a fast-changing market, Brazil’s largest TV network turned to SAFe. With 12,000 employees serving 100 million viewers in 130 countries, the media giant offers a full lineup of content: news, sports, entertainment, soap operas, reality shows, and more.

As they worked to overcome a complex software legacy, speed up innovation, and create new ways of working, the challenge has been enormous, but the effort has paid off. Today, TV Globo has established a common way of working for the business and technology areas that embraces a value-driven approach and empowers and engages teams around a common purpose. This has enabled the organization to integrate a portfolio view into decisions for evaluating competing initiatives and aligning them with enterprise priorities.

The results have been dramatic:

  • 20% cost reduction
  • 24% improvement in employee engagement
  • 86% improvement in customer satisfaction

View the video for the full story and and see how deeply engaged TV Globo’s employees are in this company-wide transformation. It is narrated in Portuguese with English translations.

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Anthem – Agile Transformation Journey

Anthem Agile Transformation Journey

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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 bottoms-up, the 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.

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Swisscom – Agility Planning with SAFe for Telecom

Agility Planning with SAFe for Telecom

“It usually takes about 36 months to bring a new TV platform to market but we had a minimally viable product in 8-10 months and brought the full product to market in 18 months. SAFe helped our relatively small team build and run a world-class product and guided us when in doubt, showing us the way toward Agile product development flow.”

Simon Berg, Agile Program Manager, Swisscom Entertainment Projects

Challenge:

Swisscom had to move quickly to bring a new IPTV product to market since a competitor had already begun a similar effort.

Industry:

Telecommunications

Solution:

  • SAFe®
  • Rally® Unlimited Edition (now CA Agile Central)

Results:

  • Swisscom brought TV 2.0 to market in about half the time of comparable projects, ahead of the competition.
  • The company decreased the time from code-ready to mass rollout from 9-12 months to no longer than six weeks.
  • The product won a coveted industry award for “Best multi-screen experience.”
  • Last year, IPTV signups grew by nearly 14 percent.
  • PI Planning recommendation score from participants: 8.3/10

Best Practices:

  • Test Automation—Swisscom reduced end-to-end test team size from dozens to just three, while maintaining quality – and deployed those individuals to other value-producing functions.
  • Program Increment Planning—Planning with SAFe led to new alignment and momentum.
  • Most Valuable Feature First—WSJF Abstract (Weighted Shortest Job First) helped prioritize features and quantify the cost of delay.

Introduction

Across the globe, consumers are increasingly choosing IPTV over cable. In Switzerland, more than 1.37 million customers now subscribe to Swisscom’s cloud-based service, Swisscom TV 2.0.

Agility Planning with SAFe for Telecom

While the growth of Swisscom TV 2.0 is a success story in itself, so too is the company’s journey to bring the product to market in a highly competitive industry where speed can make the difference between success and failure.

Thanks to Agile development practices with SAFe and a new level of collaboration between business and IT, the Engineering group at Swisscom Entertainment achieved the feat in half the time of typical projects, with a small but nimble team that helps proper agility transformation.

“It usually takes about 36 months to bring a new TV platform to market but we had a minimally viable product in 8-10 months and brought the full product to market in 18 months,” says Simon Berg, Agile Program Manager, Swisscom Entertainment Projects. “SAFe helped our relatively small team build and run a world-class product and guided us when in doubt, showing us the way toward Agile product development flow.”

SAFe: The Blueprint Swisscom Sought

In 2012, Swisscom initiated plans to bring a new IPTV offering to the market, to go beyond the basic product currently available.

This time, Swisscom wanted to add features that newly available technology would make possible. Adding urgency, the company’s largest competitor had reportedly already begun work on a similar product.

At the time, Swisscom ran what Berg describes as a PMI-style, waterfall, multi-project environment that was transitioning into a home-grown, scaled Scrum approach. A year prior, Swisscom had taken steps to realize a product house model by moving “business” and “IT development” groups into one organization.

Now, the Engineering group sought to scale Agile in earnest, leading it to the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe).

“Many things we tried to come up with on our own were already defined in a structured manner in SAFe,” Berg says. “It clicked with us, and we began transitioning to SAFe almost immediately after discovering it. With SAFe, we were able to take incremental transformation steps, profiting from the vast body of knowledge it represents.”

Finally: Big-Room Success

The team had already implemented three-month program increments with teams structured along program lines. However, they had not yet tried cross-functional, big-room planning meetings.

After diving into SAFe, the Engineering group held its first Program Increment (PI) planning session with approximately 70 people across multiple functions, including product owners, IT operations, business operations, product management and experience development.

“I was pleased to see which people were talking to each other, people who had not talked before,” Berg says. “Business owners and IT ops engineers talked about what they do and their priorities. They were giving each other their part of the vision and could finally align and work together.”

“We came out of the first PI planning session with a decent plan that lasted for the PI, except for one other small planning session,” Berg adds.

Today, PI planning has become standard practice. Noted one product manager after the group’s ninth PI planning meeting: “It’s challenging, but I don’t want to work differently ever again.”

More Flexible in a Fast-Changing Market

Agility Planning with SAFe for Telecom

In total, about 120 people ultimately worked on Swisscom TV 2.0, in more than 10 teams of teams, spanning from pure software development to video streaming, building up the data center capabilities and working to design the TV set-top box and remote control hardware. When you count non-Agile suppliers, the project included approximately 20 teams.

SAFe’s focus on alignment and shared vision kept diverse stakeholders in sync, accelerating progress and enhancing quality. “The focus on showing your work and releasing often for feedback helped us build a better product,” Berg says.

Likewise, SAFe provided flexibility when it mattered most. Mid-project, Swisscom decided to improve the product by removing time limits on the storage of recordings—a major product enhancement.

Berg also stresses the value of the WSJF concept (Weighted Shortest Job First) in helping prioritize features. “Quantifying the cost of delay was perhaps the most impactful learning of SAFe,” Berg says. “It was the first formula that really helped us have the right discussion about our priorities and what to build, aligned around the benefits to the customer.”

Such agility also helped the company become one of the first IPTV providers globally to launch Ultra HD Video on Demand, as well as Ultra HD live TV in early 2016.

Code Ready in Six Weeks

On the Swisscom TV 2.0 release, the company decreased the time from code-ready to mass rollout from 9-12 months to no longer than six weeks. “We don’t know of a comparable case in the industry,” Berg says.

Swisscom also did it more efficiently. Where test team size was once dozens of people, now with test automation, testing requires just three people while still maintaining product quality. Those testers now focus on other value-generating functions, ensuring that quality gets built into the process.

Beyond internal success, the industry took notice as well. The product went on to win a coveted award for “Best multi-screen experience”—an honor not usually bestowed on telecommunications companies.

Perhaps the greatest rewards: strong customer satisfaction scores and product sales. Last year, IPTV signups grew by nearly 14 percent.

Next Steps

Swisscom now deepens its SAFe adoption, with newly set priorities for elaborating on the economic framework concept and the solution intent concept, along with improving DevOps. Other Swisscom product units have also taken interest in adopting SAFe.

“For Swisscom TV, this has become a new way of doing business,” Berg says. “Others are looking into how we work because they see it drives us forward.”

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Suggested Case Study: Amdocs