ZKH Industrial Supply – SAFe for MRO Goods

China’s Amazon for MRO Goods Improves Order Processing Time by 800%

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How did ZKH Industrial Supply Achieve Such Dramatic Results After Practicing SAFe for Less Than a Year?

As one of the leading MRO and C-paAs one of the leading MRO and C-parts consolidators in China, ZKH Industrial Supply provides industrial accessories, consumables, general equipment, and spare parts. In just one year, this China-based leader for MRO goods was delighted with the dramatic improvements they achieved after adopting SAFe and applying Lean Portfolio Management:

  • 800% improvement in order processing time
  • 17% reduction in lead time of order to delivery
  • Online orders increase dramatically due to real-time order visibility

In this video, you will get the behind-the-scenes story of how ZKH was able to achieve these impressive results. Topics include:

  • How ZKH partnered with Accenture and utilized SAFe as an organization transformation framework
  • Setting up up the Value Realization Office, and applying SAFe Lean Portfolio Management to prioritize business demands and match investments to help realize business strategy
  • Identifying and creating agile cross-functional product delivery teams
  • Driving collaboration between R&D and business with a focus on customer demand and continuous value delivery

Presented at the 2021 Global SAFe Summit, October 2021 by:

  • Guangdao Liu, Manager /ZKH Industrial Supply Co., Ltd
  • Jasmine Zhang, Agile Practise Lead of Greater China /Accenture

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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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Australia Post – Implementing SAFe in Delivery Services

Australia Post - Implementing SAFe in Delivery Services

“SAFe has really helped bring the organization along its transformation journey. Its real value has been in the way it links strategy with decentralized execution, using metrics to enable a high level of transparency and fact-based decision making to focus on achieving business outcomes.”

Natalie Field, Head of MyPost Consumer

Challenge:

Effectively deliver solutions that sustain and further enable Australia Post as a trusted services provider, and delight customers with personalized digital products and services.

Industry:

Delivery Services

Results:

  • 100-fold increase in yearly production deployments with 98% cost reduction, enabling iterative product development
  • 400% Agile Release Train productivity increase over 18 months
  • Strong overall delivery predictability of 80%+
  • First-Time Delivery rate improved by 7 percentage points
  • Net Promoter Score rose by 8 points
  • Increased employee satisfaction and engagement

Best Practices:

  • Establish a learning and improvement mindset – Place a primary focus on learning and continuous improvement across all facets of delivery to achieve consistent growth in maturity and effectiveness.
  • Measure outcomes – Enabling a metrics and measurement capability links teams to business strategy and is key to ensuring business outcomes are effectively achieved.
  • Align to DevOps principles – Building a strong technology delivery platform aligned to DevOps principles enables iterative and innovative product
  • Focus on the entire system of work – Build organizational advocacy and sustainability by facilitating change and enablement for shared teams that support and govern Agile Release Trains.

Introduction

Australia Post is Australia’s iconic postal services provider. For 208 years, the organization has been integral to how people and communities connect across Australia. Through a collective workforce of over 50,000 people, Australia Post serves communities, citizens, and businesses, from large corporations to government departments.

Australia Post - Implementing SAFe in Delivery Services

Like many organizations, Australia Post’s business has been disrupted and must transform to adapt to the digital era. Traditional business pillars such as letters are in persistent decline, while the company faces fierce competition, but also immense opportunity with the growth of ecommerce. For Australia Post, that opportunity lies in creating sustainable competitive advantage through trusted relationships between consumers, businesses, and government.

Given these forces, Australia Post needed a new way of working to both sustain and further enable the organization as a trusted services provider, and to delight its customers with personalized digital products and services.

SAFe: Driving Change with Lean Structure and Common Language

Over the past four years, Australia Post has invested in its technology, people, and culture to change the way it works to focus on customer experiences and continuous innovation. To help achieve this agility in business, Australia Post selected and adopted the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) not only as an operating model but as a tool for change. With SAFe, the organization aims to describe, communicate, and build an understanding of how to leverage Lean and Agile principles across the organization.

“The structure and discipline outlined in SAFe has been a powerful way to communicate a different way of working,” says Daniel Fajerman, Head of Digital Engineering. “Using an industry proven framework offered a strong basis to start the conversation about working differently, providing a common language and consistent base to work off.”

Achieving Sustainable Change

Australia Post - Implementing SAFe in Delivery Services

The goal at Australia Post is sustainable, lasting change that fundamentally shifts how the organization approaches and delivers against its strategies. To do so, Australia Post must equip its people with knowledge and the ability to advocate for and be a part of this new way of working.

A broad and comprehensive training and enablement strategy was rolled out across the organization to build experience and maturity. With help from Mark Richards of CoActivation, a Scaled Agile partner, Australia Post trained more than 900 people in Leading SAFe® and SAFe for Teams® courses. This included key roles across executive leadership, within business functions such as finance, risk, architecture, security, marketing and sales, and of course technology leadership and teams.

From the beginning, Australia Post applied a persistent focus on cadence and synchronization – keys to building alignment and embedding disciplined delivery practices across diverse teams. With all of Australia Post on the same sprint (and then Program Increment) cadence, scaling teams and ultimately forming these into Agile Release Trains (ARTs) became a natural evolution.

Achieving sustainable change focused on four key interrelated areas of emphasis across the organization:

  • Cross-functional, long-running teams – Moving from transient project teams to cross-functional, long-running teams aligned to customer experiences was a foundational, critical change to the way people work.
  • Culture – Australia Post invested significantly in evolving the culture of the organization to one where curiosity, innovation, and a learning mindset predominate.
  • Technology enablement – Beyond cultural and process changes, improving delivery flow and time-to-value requires an effective build pipeline and deployment infrastructure aligned to DevOps principles.
  • System of work – Implementing a new way of working spans well beyond delivery teams to every part of the organization that supports the delivery of business initiatives. The change team worked closely with shared services groups to tailor approaches to enable and meet their needs under the Framework, including new innovative funding and governance models.

This multi-pronged approach formed sustainable building blocks for change and enablement. With the goal of implementing Agile Release Trains (ARTs), the early focus was on long-running teams and culture to allow maturity to build and grow. The greatest traction came with the advocacy and leadership of business sponsors and leads, who understood the increased business opportunity and had confidence in the delivery model.

MyPost Consumer – Creating a Platform for Personalized Services

Australia Post - Implementing SAFe in Delivery Services

Today, five ARTs now support Australia Post’s value streams and associated enterprise strategies. One of those trains, the MyPost Consumer ART, sits within Australia Post’s Consumer market segment value stream. Established in 2015 to play a significant role in the shift toward customer centricity, MyPost Consumer is creating an omni-channel platform to offer personalized services to customers. The train’s primary focus: the parcel delivery experience, which sits at the heart of Australia Post’s business.

The train is made up of 110 cross-functional roles, with each team responsible for specific components of the parcel delivery experience. As a multi-channel, multi-technology program, only 30% of features are purely digital. The most impactful features require changes to multiple channels and enterprise technology systems.

“Getting the job done right is about focusing as much on how we work together, as what we are working on,” says Natalie Field, Head of MyPost Consumer. “We know there are many unknowns in achieving our program strategy and we don’t, and won’t, always get it right. However we also know that by respecting each other, and staying committed to rapid learning cycles, we will always come up with great solutions. “

The train has achieved strong outcomes over the past couple of years. Australia Post attributes the success of the train to several pillars:

Create a customer-centric culture
Building a customer-centric culture meant creating an environment that empowers the entire team to make fact-based, data-driven decisions and equipping everyone to be advocates for the customer experience.

Focus on metrics to drive business outcomes
A strong focus on measurement has resulted in significant positive impact across the organization’s primary success measures. To help achieve this outcome, teams are equipped with technology tools and the ability to collect and report on data. This empowers teams to learn fast about in-market feature performance and make changes when necessary. The result is a data-driven approach to how the train identifies, prioritises, implements, and learns from each Program Increment.

Improve continuously for greater predictability and performance
Success of the train hinges on an ability to improve continuously and focus relentlessly on evolving the experience to meet customer needs. The train adapts and responds to market demands, continually improving technology capabilities to advance the business across its digital channel, retail stores, delivery network, and call centre.

Raising Satisfaction and Throughput, with Lower Cost

A strong focus on measurement and learning to maximize business outcomes resulted in significant positive impact:

Australia Post - Implementing SAFe in Delivery Services
  • Improved first-time delivery – The First-Time Delivery rate jumped by 7 percentage points over 12 months.
  • Reduced cost – Australia Post reduced its infrastructure costs by 98%.
  • Predictability – The train consistently delivered on 80% or more of its objectives.
  • Customer satisfaction – The Net Promoter Score rose by 8 points over the course of one year.
  • Employee engagement – Employee satisfaction and engagement increased.
  • Industry accolades – The train was voted the Best Customer Centric Project in Australia / New Zealand by the CX Management Conference.

Australia Post continues to evolve and grow to meet the needs of its business. Its focus on continuous improvement means the organization ever challenges itself to create the next wave of trusted services for its customers.

“SAFe has really helped bring the organization along its transformation journey,” Field says. “Its real value has been in the way it links strategy with decentralized execution, using metrics to enable a high level of transparency and fact-based decision making to focus on achieving business outcomes.”

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Standard Bank: The Journey to Agile at Scale

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

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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 spent 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 the 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.

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Standard Bank – Implementing SAFe and DevOps

Standard Bank - Implementing SAFe and DevOps

“SAFe provided the structure we needed to scale Agile enterprise-wide. It addressed the complexities and gave us the framework for building portfolios, roles, and jobs to achieve our goals for productivity, morale, and quality.”

Alex Keyter, Lean Agile Transformation Consultant (SPC4), Standard Bank

Challenge:

The bank sought to improve service quality, efficiency, and employee morale, but previous efforts to scale Lean-Agile beyond a few teams had stalled.

Industry:

Financial Services

Solution:

SAFe®

Results:

  • Time-to-market reduced from 700 to 30 days
  • Deployments increased from once or twice a year to monthly
  • Productivity increased 50%
  • Cost decreased by 77%
  • Predictability is now at 68%
  • Organizational health improved by 12 percentage points from 2013 – 2016, thanks in part to SAFe

Best Practices:

  • Focus on culture change – Standard Bank moved from individual recognition to team awards and KPIs. The bank increased excitement and engagement through gamification, skills building, and automation.
  • Get the business involved early – The bank started the transition with IT. In hindsight, they would have engaged business owners sooner so they understood that the change was not just about IT. A handful of progressive thinkers helped influence the others.
  • Don’t forget to focus on engineering – “SAFe, coupled with a focus on engineering, takes it to the next level,” says Mike Murphy, Standard Bank CTO.

Introduction

Based in South Africa, Standard Bank is the largest African banking group, with total assets of ZAR1.95 trillion (USD143 billion). For more than 152 years, the bank has served the continent and is now present in 20 sub-Saharan countries. Standard Bank operates seven different portfolio offerings across business and personal banking, corporate and investment, and wealth management.

Standard Bank - Implementing SAFe and DevOps

At Standard Bank, the IT team embarks on approximately 600 projects every year to help keep the bank at the leading edge. Yet traditionally, teams have completed only a small percentage of projects within the defined timeframe, budget, and scope.

To improve follow-through, Standard Bank tried a few Lean-Agile pilots. However, their efforts stalled when they attempted to expand beyond a few teams working in isolation.

“We were very much a project-based environment,” explains Alex Keyter, Lean Agile Transformation Consultant (SPC4) at Standard Bank. “We tried waterfall, a combined team approach, and other frameworks, but nothing addressed the challenge of delivering value across organizational silos. Standard Bank has over 2,000 systems in IT, which required tremendous coordination to deliver an initiative successfully.”

Changing Culture and Launching POCs

On the back of a number of benchmarks that the bank set locally and internationally, the company initiated a four-pillar IT strategy:

  • Quality of service through brilliant basics, which are defined as IT housekeeping and maintenance; stability of service; and simplifying and reducing complexity
  • Responsiveness to market
  • Sustainability as the foundation of client excellence
  • Affordability through commercial pragmatism

To support its goals, the bank turned to the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®), and gained backing from executives to move ahead with deploying it. “SAFe provided the structure we needed to scale Agile enterprise-wide,” Keyter says. “It addressed the complexities and gave us the framework for building portfolios, programs, and teams to achieve our strategic goals.”

But prior to rolling out SAFe, Standard Bank initiated various culture initiatives to start driving the change in behavior of leaders and teams, and launched proofs of concept.

“To affect culture change is like pulling out a rubber band,” explains Josef Langerman, Head of Engineering and IT Transformation at Standard Bank. “When the band is relaxed, it returns to its previous comfortable state. One has to exert energy again to pull it out. By doing this repeatedly and in different ways, the band gets softer and more stretched out. Similarly, culture needs continued effort and reliance on many techniques to move it to a new comfortable or desired state. There is no silver bullet.”

The bank took a number of steps to stretch out of its comfort zone:

  • They pulled cross-functional teams together and began delivering on a cadence
  • The Internet Banking and ATM teams modeled breaking work down into smaller, more manageable pieces and demonstrated to stakeholders the work completed during the sprint
  • Business and IT stakeholders joined in during these showcases to provide feedback to the teams
  • They switched their work attire from suits and ties to jeans
  • They began running off-site sessions with IT to define culture themes, change guilds, and more
  • They initiated DevOps initiatives prior to the SAFe implementation but were formalized during the roll-out

As part of the transition, Standard Bank set out to create a fully automated self-provisioning environment with scripting, and used an automation challenge to drive interest in skills. Automation pilots yielded significant tangible results:

  • 20 minutes – Time to deploy application server stack end-to-end
  • 30 seconds – Time to release new code to customers
  • 0 percent – Deployment impact to customers

Additionally, the bank set a clear vision for the future of the organization. At the top, leaders aligned around a common understanding of goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) and emulated Silicon Valley tech leaders on the kind of change and coaching culture required.

At lower levels, the development community participated in defining the future state of the bank. Standard Bank also empowered employees to design their own culture as a group—to achieve true ownership.

Implementing SAFe and DevOps

Prior to launching the first Agile Release Train (ART), Standard Bank portfolios embarked on an outside-in model, moving away from the traditional project structures into a SAFe design construct forming cross-functional Teams, Programs, and Portfolios. The bank set a milestone for the first of July 2016 for teams to co-locate, work from a backlog, and establish visual management of work and self-regulated teams.

With the outside-in design taking shape, Human Capital with support from the Group CIO started a program that focused on re-skilling individuals to repurpose them as software engineers, quality engineers, or user experience analysts. Once they passed the aptitude test and went through the program, they were placed in a feature team. As a result, the organization now has more people getting the work done versus managing it.

Standard Bank - Implementing SAFe and DevOps

“We really broke the old business operating model,” explains Adrian Vermooten, Head of Digital for the Africa Regions. “We said, ‘We’re changing our methodology. We’re moving out of this building and you’re giving up your old jobs.’”

In July 2016, two individuals attended SAFe Program Consultant (SPC) training and returned to begin rapidly training hundreds of team members. From July 2016 through February 2017, Standard Bank trained approximately 1,200 people on Leading SAFe in preparation for its first Program Increment (PI) planning meeting in January 2017.

A division CIO set the tone for executive sponsorship by earning certification as a SAFe Agilist prior to the first PI. Then he and other leaders planned heavily for the first event.

The First PI: A Mind-frame Shift

Leading up to the first Program Increment (PI), the bank evaluated the various internal and external teams impacting Agile Release Trains (ARTs) in the Portfolio and extended invitations accordingly. The first PI brought together 300 people from the Card & Emerging Payments group, which depends on more than 32 systems with numerous codependencies. While challenging, the event succeeded in kicking off a major mind-frame shift.

“The way we normally do things, we inherently start with, ‘Why? And we can’t do that,’ as opposed to this process which was, ‘We can do it, and how?’” stated one of the attendees.

Following a successful PI Planning session, the benchmark was set and other Portfolios soon followed with their first PI Planning sessions.

Productivity Up 50 Percent

These days, with more than 2,000 people trained on Leading SAFe, Lean-Agile practices and SAFe are key parts of Standard Bank’s strategic plan. The move to SAFe delivered a number of benefits, both qualitative and quantitative. Standard Bank succeeded in breaking down silos and improving dependency management. They removed complexity and reduced cost—while building more. Business people now prioritize work and budgets to account for IT change.

The bank notes significant gains within some of the more mature Teams or Portfolios:

  • Time-to-market reduced from 700 to 30 days
  • Deployments increased from once or twice a year to monthly
  • Productivity increased 50 percent
  • Cost decreased by 77 percent
  • Predictability is now at 68 percent
  • Organizational health improved by 12 percentage points from 2013 – 2016

As hoped, the benefits have trickled down to the customer. “We put together some teams that much more closely represent the customer value chain,” Vermooten says.

Beyond the numbers, Vermooten sees the changes firsthand every day. Senior staff members get out from behind their desks and interact more with teams, while junior staff feel more free to share ideas.

“We flattened the organization,” he says. “Before, only senior people would speak up in meetings. Now, in every meeting, junior people are leading the conversation. There’s higher energy and intensity in people. It brings out the best in them.”

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Fitbit – Benefits of Using SAFe in Consumer Technology

Fitbit Benefits of SAFe in Consumer Technology

“SAFe has been a successful story for us. It allowed us to grow our team in a seamless way that integrated cross-functional groups and aligned with the company’s long-term strategy. Fitbit has grown significantly since we adopted SAFe, and we were able to scale the process and still deliver high achievement every PI. My VP calls it the scaffolding that has helped moved our team forward.”

Damian Brown, Sr. Director of Program Management Office, Fitbit

Challenge:

With major consumer holidays as deadlines, target dates are immovable. Early Scrum efforts could not keep pace with company growth.

Industry:

Consumer Products, Information Technology

Results:

  • Fitbit achieved a long-term look-ahead on its product roadmap and a short-term look-ahead on team tasks
  • Teams now achieve five business goals per PI, compared to three previously
  • Velocity increased 33 percent year over year
  • Fitbit launched a record number of products last year

Best Practices:

  • Don’t miss retrospectives – After every PI planning event, Fitbit listens to feedback on what went well and what needs improvement—and integrates those changes for the next PI.
  • Establish long-lived teams – Long-lived teams provide more stability and predictability.
  • Collect metrics along the way – Collect as many metrics as possible, which could back up decision-making. These could include velocity, overall objectives completion rate and reasons for scope changes during execution.
  • Always plan for the next PI – Cadence is important to align multiple groups in the PI in preparation for the next PI planning event. Start early and make sure every participant is aware of the timeline, so all stakeholders are well-informed and prepared for PI planning.

Introduction

In 2016, consumer technology company, Fitbit, released four new products to the market that were positively received by consumers, and shipped over 22 million devices.

Delivering its highest number of products in a year is due in part to the company’s commitment to, and success in adopting SAFe® (Scaled Agile Framework®) as a way to scale the team to meet target dates.

Challenge: Delivering for Consumer Shopping Seasons

Benefits of SAFe in Consumer Technology

Since 2007, Fitbit has helped millions of people around the world lead healthier, more active lives by empowering them with data, inspiration, and guidance to reach their goals.

At Fitbit, major consumer holidays drive the product delivery schedule, including the year-end holiday season, Valentine’s Day, graduation, and Mother’s and Father’s Days. For that reason, target dates are inflexible when it comes to developing firmware and software for every product for each major platform (iOS, Android, and Windows).

In working toward targets, Fitbit engineering managers, tech leads, and Scrum masters have collaborated closely in recent years, sprint to sprint. But as the company and user base grew, Fitbit had to expand and evolve this process to meeting company and consumer needs.

“With our growing team and global presence, we knew our Scrum efforts were not going to scale,” says Damian Brown, Sr. Director of Program Management Office, Fitbit. “The question was, ‘How do we keep the organic culture people like about Fitbit while addressing the needs of the business and our global community of users?’”

Always Planning, Always Delivering

At a previous company, Brown and colleague, Brian Hsieh, had been part of a successful Agile effort by deploying SAFe. When they arrived at Fitbit, they saw an opportunity to deploy SAFe once again.

“We had done research on the different models for scaling Scrum,” Brown says. “Brian and I had been to Leading SAFe training, and once you see that big picture, your eyes start lighting up. It’s a powerful story how the Program layer aligns with Scrum teams. We knew that SAFe was something that would work for us at Fitbit.”

But first, they had to gain executive buy-in. “I think the story we told of always planning, always delivering, was very powerful for leadership,” Brown says

A Big Picture—for the First Time

With leadership on board, in fall 2015 the company started with 12 Scrum teams at its first Program Increment (PI) planning event in San Francisco. They created a highly interactive experience with physical boards and red ribbon for a visual of team dependencies within the PI. In that first meeting, teams were energized and excited about their PI objectives.

Benefits of SAFe in Consumer Technology

“Teams reported that they could see the whole picture across company-wide initiatives and understood where they could contribute,” says Hsieh, Manager of Program Management Office.

But as early as the first PI retrospective, the company realized it had not included all the teams that would benefit from this process. Thus in the next PI, Fitbit added other teams, including firmware engineering groups.

With each PI—now up to ten—Fitbit folded in more teams and more functional groups, including some not typically part of an Agile transformation. Today, members of Firmware, Software, Design, Research, Marketing, Customer Support, Data Analytics and Infrastructure Engineering all participate in PIs. Fitbit trained all those who were leading PI events, with events extended to its other office locations, including Boston, San Diego, and Minsk, Belarus.

100% Delivery on Objectives

In adopting SAFe, Fitbit aimed to evolve its process for scaling development teams in many ways:

  • Create a fast and flexible flow across the entire Fitbit ecosystem
  • Create a system of teams across the ecosystem that work together to deliver quickly
  • Scale up to adopt team growth
  • Improve visibility with the objective of a two-month look-ahead on what each team will be working on
  • Create mechanisms for teams and stakeholders to identify cross-team dependencies and add items to other teams’ backlogs as needed
  • Align key business dates across all of the programs, including security, data center moves, compliance, and marketing programs

With the help of SAFe, Fitbit successfully achieved process evolution.

As for visibility, Fitbit achieved a long-term look-ahead on its product roadmap and a short-term execution plan at areas of work for the teams, supporting planning and decision-making for leadership. It’s a roadmap process that Brown and Hsieh credit SAFe with providing.

Velocity likewise increased; teams now achieve five objectives per PI, on average, “With the metrics that SAFe provides, combined with what we regularly report on, we can tell our CTO that velocity has increased 33 percent over the past year,” Brown says.

With higher cadence and velocity, Fitbit can more readily respond to market needs. For example, when the company noticed an opportunity to add a specific capability to its products, it brought the new feature to market in a very short time with no major bugs in internal and external testing.

Benefits of SAFe in Consumer Technology

In 2016, with an aggressive plan for launching four new products, Brown and Hsieh credit the SAFe approach with enabling teams to complete goals and objectives two to three PIs ahead of schedule.

Additionally, the integrated, measured approach contributes to the quality of the user experience. In particular, Brown points to that critical time between Black Friday and New Year’s Day when many new Fitbit owners activate products and visit the Fitbit app and website for the first time to create accounts and sync their new devices. In 2016, the company experienced no major impact to the site during that timeframe.

Just as critical, team engagement has gone up since deploying SAFe. As a result, teams now regularly hit their top objectives. “Having PIs and objectives really rallies us around something positive several times a year,” Brown says.

Now, as the company plans for next year, it’s working toward funding value streams rather than projects—a goal that SAFe 4.0 supports with its Value Stream level.

“SAFe has been a successful story for us. It allowed us to grow our team in a seamless way that integrated cross-functional groups and aligned with the company’s long-term strategy,” Brown adds. “Fitbit has grown significantly since we adopted SAFe, and we were able to scale the process and still deliver high achievement every PI. My VP calls it the scaffolding that has helped moved our team forward.”

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