LIC – Adopting SAFe in Agriculture

LIC - Adopting SAFe in Agriculture

“The fact that we delivered for the biggest industry event of the year was hugely motivating and moved us from a negative to a positive spiral. The business was a bit surprised and shocked that we did what we said we would do on something that was quite big and complicated. There’s no way we could have done it without SAFe.”

Paul Littlefair, CIO, Livestock Improvement Corp.

Challenge:

Six months before the biggest annual industry event, IT leadership recognized that it would likely not deliver a new release as planned.

Industry:

Agriculture

Solution:

SAFe® 4.0

Results:

  • Time to market – A 75% reduction in the time to get features to market
  • Customer value – With more frequent releases, customers see value much faster
  • Quality – A 25% reduction in defects in production
  • Predictability – 98% accuracy on the delivery predictability
  • Morale – A 60% jump in employee engagement survey results

Best Practices:

  • Deploy SAFe by the book – “Adopting an industry best-practices system like SAFe off the shelf has forced us to transition and change in the way we needed to,” Littlefair says.
  • Be lean with SAFe – To implement quickly ahead of an industry event, LIC used only what was essential.
  • Focus on the business outcome – Look beyond the implementation at the objectives for implementing SAFe/Agile. “This will then allow the business to be ruthless in getting early wins, and shift from a cost-driven culture to one of value,” Clark says.

Introduction

In New Zealand, Fieldays is billed as “the biggest agricultural trade show in the Southern Hemisphere.” Every June, more than 115,000 farming industry visitors come to purchase equipment and learn about the latest in farming advances.

LIC - Adopting SAFe in Agriculture

For Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), it’s a can’t-miss opportunity to connect with current and prospective customers—farmers. One of the oldest farming co-operatives in the country, LIC provides a range of services and solutions to help farmers be more prosperous and productive: genetics and information to create superior livestock; information to improve farmer decision-making; and hardware and systems to improve productivity. To achieve those goals, more than 700 employees are based in offices around New Zealand, increasing to around 2,000 for the peak dairy mating season

As Big Data and other technologies begin to heavily influence farming practices, LIC is riding a wave of growth. As LIC prepared for Fieldays 2016, the co-op planned a new release of MINDA Live, the company’s proprietary herd management system. Yet the organization’s IT leadership lacked confidence about delivering as planned—and with good reason. Historically, IT had rarely delivered on time or budget.

“Every time we failed to deliver we did a post-mortem, but didn’t learn from our mistakes, and it would happen again a few months later,” says Paul Littlefair, CIO.

Deploying Essential SAFe®

LIC was an early adopter of Lean-Agile team practices. However, they still performed most IT work with a waterfall governance process.

“We still had incredibly large, multi-year projects, and detailed analysis to write business cases,” Littlefair says. “In typical waterfall fashion, we didn’t test until the end or consider quality from the beginning. It took a lot of rework to get it right, leading to overruns.”

With the Fieldays deadline looming, Littlefair decided to call in Gillian Clark for an assessment of their readiness. To Clark, it was unclear whether teams would deliver as needed for the big event.

To expedite progress, Clark recommended that LIC implement the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®). Given the short timeframe and the team’s unfamiliarity with the Framework, they chose to deploy Essential SAFe, a subset of SAFe that includes 10 major elements necessary for a successful implementation.

“The approach was, get everyone into a room, align teams into a single Agile Release Train (ART) with a focus on integration, and focus on delivery of the program with a single program backlog, with one person coordinating the project managers and pooled budgets. Up to that point they had three project managers fighting for budget and resources, so we merged them,” Clark says.

Given the approaching deadline—just six months out—Littlefair and Clark encountered some resistance to trying something new. They asked everyone to participate in the PI planning, including Operations, which had not participated in planning previously. The CEO likewise attended, which set the tone for the importance of the launch.

“Putting everyone in a room together to talk about stuff—instead of building it—was seen as something we should not do,” Littlefair says. “But we made it mandatory for everyone to attend.”

In spite of initial misgivings, some of those who had been unsure began to recognize the value of face-to-face collaboration during the first day of Program Increment (PI) planning. Specifically, they saw how their roles and their work tied to others.

“It slowly dawned on them that they were on the same critical path as everyone else in the room,” Clark says. “They also began to realize the project outcomes were at risk and that SAFe practices were providing more understanding of what needed to happen to be successful.”

For the first time, teams were working on the same cadence, an essential step in synchronizing everyone across the organization. Soon, they fell into a flow and started to self manage. Communication and transparency improved; instead of making assumptions, individuals started identifying dependencies with others, and making sure those dependencies were discussed and accepted.

Delivering for Fieldays and Beyond

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.

LIC - Adopting SAFe in Agriculture

Beyond that release, LIC notes improvements across multiple areas:

  • Time-to-market – A 75% reduction in the time to get features to market (from 12 to 24 months down to three to six months). Features are now released twice a week for COBOL and legacy solutions.
  • Customer value – With more frequent releases, customers now see value much faster. “Customers have absolutely noticed,” Littlefair says. “Whenever something goes out, we post it on social media and we’re seeing a lot more engagement and real-time feedback there.”
  • Quality – A 25% reduction in defects in production
  • Predictability – 98% accuracy on delivery predictability
  • Morale – A 60% improvement in employee engagement survey results

Culture Shift

LIC’s SAFe journey has led to numerous changes across the organization. For one, meetings look quite different than they did before SAFe was adopted. Initially, some leaders preferred not to include all teams in planning meetings. Now, everyone joins, and Littlefair notes, teams hold each other more accountable and ask more insightful questions.

Before, analysts would write involved business cases and ‘push’ them on teams. These days, product owners make sure work is properly sized and teams ‘pull’ the work.

On the Path of Value-Stream Funding

Currently, LIC runs three ARTs and has extended SAFe across the entire technical landscape. Having moved beyond Essential SAFe, the co-op is now on a course to fund projects at the value stream level. Business leaders now clearly see the value of their investments, and discussions center on priorities in terms of features and benefits.

“SAFe has succeeded in a culture and mindset change,” Littlefair says. “We have a set of processes, rules, and practices that work extremely well, and that have led a cultural shift.”

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Suggested Case Study: Amdocs

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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Capital One – Benefits of SAFe for Financial Services

Capital One - Benefits of SAFe for Financial Services

“The products we’re developing are bigger than one Agile team. For the teams to interact and plan together, we really needed SAFe as the foundation. It brings the practices and methodologies to coordinate multiple teams working on the same product at the same time.”

Mike Eason, CIO, Commercial Banking

Challenge:

Capital One sought to be more responsive to the market, to transform software delivery to an agile framework, and to do it at scale.

Industry:

Financial Services

Results:

  • Raised employee engagement by 15-20%
  • Employed Agile and scaled agile across the enterprise; business and tech.
  • Re-thinking the strategy on outsourced applications led to a drastic shift towards building internally

Best Practices:

  • Establish communities of practice—Peer groups for Scrum Masters, RTEs, and System Teams enable these individuals to learn from each other.
  • Support innovation—Commercial Banking leads Innovation Renovations similar to the Shark Tank TV show, where individuals present ideas for improvement.
  • Recognize accomplishments—Commercial Banking calls out specific individuals for their efforts at PI events, and enhances morale and a sense of fun by requesting that people write what they appreciate about others on “walking billboards” on each other’s’ backs.

Introduction

One of the most widely recognized brands in America, Capital One is a diversified bank that offers a broad array of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses, and commercial clients. The company employs more than 47,000 people, and in 2016, reported revenue of $25 billion.

Benefits of SAFe for Financial Services

Since launching in the mid ‘90s, Capital One has been a disrupter. Smaller and nimbler than its competitors, it could react to market demands quickly. But as it grew, it lost some of that agility.

2010 began a transformation starting with the renaming of the Capital One’s IT groups to Capital One Technology. “This was more than a name change,” Capital One CIO Rob Alexander said.  “It was a declaration that we would no longer be a traditional bank IT shop.  From now that day on, we would be an organization working to transform Capital One into a technology company.”

In 2012, Capital One’s Commercial Banking group set out to be more responsive to customer and market needs.  Knowing the organization relied on a lot of outsourced functions, the team set out on a transformational journey to bring IT development back in-house.

As the transformation picked up steam; it was clear, talent would be the lynchpin to execute against their development goals.  To maximize the transformation, the following was always the question:

“How do we work in a way that allows great talent to do great work?” (Rob Alexander, CIO, Capital One)

The CIO of the company’s Commercial Banking Technology team, Mike Eason, explains the motivation for change.  “Like many companies with outsourced technology, we knew we needed to gain control over our customer experience and become more nimble,” Eason says. “We took a step back and said, ‘we need to build our own technology to respond more rapidly to the market.’”

In 2013, the group began taking steps toward building an Agile workforce, however, Eason describes it as going through the motions. Development was largely still a waterfall approach. And while technology leaders were fully on board, opportunities remained to gain the full support of upper management.

SAFe: ‘A Well-Supported Framework with Clear Guidelines’

For the guidance it needed, Commercial Banking turned to the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®).

“We looked at other frameworks for Agile, but SAFe offered a well-supported framework with clear guidelines, training, and experts to support us throughout the journey,” says Anand Francis, Director of Agile Coaching Services, Capital One Commercial Banking.

“The products we’re developing are bigger than one Agile team,” Eason adds. “For the teams to interact and plan together, we really needed SAFe as the foundation. It brings the practices and methodologies to coordinate multiple teams working on the same product at the same time.”

With the decision to go SAFe, support from the Capital One Commercial Operations Leader was a key factor, helping to influence large scale buy-in from other executives. Moving beyond rhetoric of “business and IT” alignment, Capital One business executives have agile teams dedicated to their products, services, and broader business strategies.

Goal: 100% Training

Prior to the first Program Increment (PI), all team members went through Agile 101 training. Today, half of the Release Train Engineers (RTEs) are SAFe Program Consultants (SPCs). Out of 50 Scrum Master roles, one quarter have achieved SAFe® Scrum Master (SSM) Certification while 10 percent are SPCs.

“Our goal is to have 50 percent of our Scrum Master population SAFe Scrum Master certified and 100% of our RTE population SAFe RTE certified by the end of the year,” Francis says.

Capital One now includes Agile, Design Thinking, and SAFe training courses in its Capital One University. Employees can choose from a number of SAFe courses, including Leading SAFe, SAFe Product Owner/Product Manager, and SAFe Release Train Engineer.

Empowering Teams

SAFe for Financial Services

Capital One held its first Program Increment (PI) Planning meeting in 2013. In-house Agile coaches provided continuous guidance to Scrum Masters, RTEs, and Product Owners.

As Commercial Banking kicked off its first PI, a mindset shift was necessary for associates and to continue to move forward on two big themes: one, we as an organization needed to be great at delivering software; and two, we needed to be great at delivering data solutions that support how we make decisions for customers, how we interact with them, and how we make decisions internally. Christy Gurkin, the RTE on the first Agile Release Train (ART), found that while teams were initially resistant to the change, they soon began embracing the new approach.

“I noticed that people who normally would not have talked together were initiating conversations on their own, without me having to push it,” she says.

Eason also notes that, early on, teams lacked the autonomy to deliver independently because too many outside dependencies slowed down the process. Capital One addressed this by changing team structure. Instead of teams that focused on a single aspect, such as building an API, they transitioned to full-feature teams—equipping an entire team to deliver working software independently in a two-week sprint.

With this shift in team composition, and a greater focus on DevOps and continuous integration/continuous development, the company gained momentum.

Capital One additionally reduced team sizes down to seven or eight people. “By reducing team sizes, we improved team chemistry, which left them feeling like they had the autonomy to solve issues themselves,” Eason says.

Commercial Banking also took a major step in moving from project-centric budgeting to team-centric budgeting. “Before, no one wanted the project to end because then the resources would be distributed somewhere else,” Eason says. “Leadership and teams are now aligned to products, and make decisions on how much to invest in the products themselves instead of justifying every single project.”

As a result, teams are more nimble to ‘turn on a dime’ as needed, without the pressure of having to see a specific project to the end.

“Teams feel more beholden to the product they’re working on versus moving from project to project,” Francis adds.

A Transformation Guided by Teams

In addition to performing Inspect and Adapt after every PI, Commercial Banking designed and developed an Agile maturity assessment to help trains and teams understand where they are on their transformation journey. Once a quarter, they ask individuals to react anonymously to neutral statements across five areas: sustainability, value delivery, scaled agile, culture, and technical health.

“A lot of companies think they’re in one place, but they’re really in another,” says Greg Jaeger, Agile Coach. “Our goal was honest opinions and honest assessment because that’s the only way to help each member of the team, each team, each train, and each program get better—not only in being Agile or SAFe but in actual product delivery.”

Areas with low scores indicate the need for a discussion. In response, individuals at the Team and Program levels identify areas to improve for the next six sprints. Based on items chosen at those levels, Agile coaches formulate an Agile transformation path for every value stream.

Faster Delivery, Happier People

Benefits of SAFe for Financial Services

Today, Commercial Banking has 13 ARTs and seven Value Streams. Since deploying SAFe, the group has seen gains that benefit employees, partners, customers, and the organization as a whole:

Time-to-market— As we build out our physical campus, we have tried to create work spaces that enable that collaboration at the agile scrum team level, but also, we operate what is called the scaled agile framework.  That implies that we need to be able to be effective in collaborating at both the individual team level, but also across multiple teams.

Taking an iterative approach to frequently deliver to production brought about efficiency and speed not previously seen.  “We’re truly able to deliver working software into production at the end of every sprint,” Eason says. “What took us six months to complete before, now we might complete in a couple of months. And by bringing development in-house, we have working solutions much faster than any vendor partnership could deliver.”

Commercial Banking turned the ratio of vendor-created applications to those built in-house upside down.

Engagement—With employee engagement up 15-20 percent overall, morale and retention have improved.

Predictability—With each PI, Commercial Banking sees greater predictability in what it can deliver. PI planning plays a major role in setting expectations and encouraging follow-through.

Customer satisfaction—Eason says business partners prefer the new approach and would not want to go back to the old way of working. Likewise, the businesses that Commercial Banking serve have responded positively to the opportunity to see demos and progress along the way, rather than only having insight into fully completed projects.

“It’s been great to have clients with us on the design and test aspects of development,” Eason says.

The journey continues at Capital One, with Commercial Banking continuously refining after every PI. Success so far, aided by SAFe, greatly fuels that momentum.

“SAFe has enabled us to go to production in a safer and more scalable way more often than we would have normally,” Anand says.

“We are in that journey, and it is important that as the leadership team in technology,” says Capital One CIO Rob Alexander, “we are communicating to our whole organization that this is what excellence in software delivery looks like.”

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Suggested Case Study: Standard Bank

Thales – Bringing Agility Across the Enterprise with SAFe

Thales - Bringing Agility Across the Enterprise with SAFe

“The great thing about SAFe is that we have a structure in place to deliver better quality more rapidly. We can easily share with our customers and OEMs how Lean-Agile is a part of what we do.”

– Celie Navatel, VP Quality and Customer Satisfaction at Thales InFlyt Experience

Challenge:

Reduce cycle time, control costs, and improve quality in a highly regulated environment.

Industry:

Information Technology, Aviation

Solution:

SAFe®

Results:

  • The company is two times faster in introducing releases.
  • The ability to spot bugs sooner raises quality and enables more frequent releases.
  • Employees report higher engagement and satisfaction.

Best Practices:

  • Invest in training – From gaining support for SAFe to the first PI and ongoing, Thales InFlyt Experience has invested heavily in training people at all levels—contributing to buy-in and a smooth transition
  • Engage change agents – Thales trained seven change agents to influence the rest of the organization

Introduction

With 64,000 employees and over 25,000 engineers and researchers in 56 countries, Thales has a global presence no other provider can match. For inflight entertainment solutions and digital services, the leading airlines in the world have come to rely on the company’s Thales InFlyt Experience division to enhance the travel journey and create engaging and personalized experiences for their passengers.

From the comfort of your airline seat, the Thales Inflight Entertainment System allows you to watch shows, play games, browse the dining menu, or find your current location on a global map. You can also connect to in-flight Wi-Fi on your own device. The Thales system is guaranteed to work at highest quality, all the time.

Such in-flight entertainment and connectivity has become an essential and expected benefit on commercial airlines. Every year, more than 300,000,000 passengers across 75 partner airlines rely on Thales InFlyt Experience solutions.

At Thales, success depends on innovation, competitiveness, and teamwork to meet and exceed customer expectations. The company designs and develops highly complex integrated hardware and software solutions, within a regulated environment across all regions where Thales customers operate, which adds to the challenge of frequent deliveries.

Bringing Agility Across the Enterprise with SAFe

In the past, individual teams at Thales began experimenting with Lean-Agile approaches. However, their efforts remained limited to software teams, and they continued to release in large batches. Something had to change.

“We needed a framework to meet our goals of providing exceptional customer satisfaction with reduced cycle time, lower costs, and better quality,” says Ted Tomoyasu, Director of SAFe Transformation at Thales InFlyt Experience.

SAFe: A Clear Vision for Implementing Agile

Leo Alonso, Thales VP of Engineering, had used the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) successfully at a former company. To explore the option for Thales, the company sent seven people to Implementing SAFe® training with Portofino Solutions, a Scaled Agile Gold Partner. All received certification as SAFe Program Consultants (SPCs). With that knowledge, the group returned ready to explain the approach to executives and gain buy-in.

“Sending a cross-functional team to SAFe training was one of the big success factors and a major step in gaining executive sponsorship,” Alonso says. “They returned with a clear vision for how to implement SAFe, which supported the decision of our senior executives to move forward.”

That core of seven team members became what Thales calls the Lean-Agile Transformation Team (LATTe), which was designed to provide the vision, guidance, and support to take the organization forward with SAFe.

From there, the company identified one large value stream to begin with and moved forward with training. This initial training brought together architects, project managers, and functional managers related to the value stream along with people from additional shared services such as HR, Finance, and leadership.

“Thales took training very seriously,” says Armond Mehrabian, President of Portofino Solutions. “When we talk to other companies about SAFe, they ask if they can just send one person. But if you want to be successful, you need a critical mass of trained people to bring about change.”

In August 2015, Thales conducted a Quickstart SAFe implementation that involved two days of training in SAFe for Teams, two days of Program Increment (PI) planning, and two days of SAFe Scrum Master training. In total, about 150 people joined the first PI.

PI Planning events allowed for the diverse working groups to come together quickly and collaborate face-to-face in real time. “We were able to see how all the layers of technology fit together to deliver this complex system,” says Robert Magnusson, Continuous Improvement Project Manager at Thales.

The adoption of business agility across the enterprise faced some resistance from those in traditional project manager roles. Thales kept them as the primary interface to customers and gained their buy-in by showing that they could respond more rapidly to customer requests.

SAFe in a Regulated Environment

Bringing Agility Across the Enterprise with SAFe

Thales must comply with diverse regulations in all the regions and countries where its customers operate, as well as with the requirements from aircraft manufacturers. In addition to these requirements, there are customizable features that are unique to each airline. Thales designs its systems by focusing first on fixed solution intent (aircraft manufacturer requirements) and tackles variable factors (airline requirements) later.


Through SAFe, Thales InFlyt shared its Lean-Agile path with the world’s leading aircraft OEMs as well as government regulatory agencies such as the Federal Aviation Association and other agencies around the world.

“The great thing about SAFe is that we have a structure in place to deliver better quality more rapidly,” says Celie Navatel, VP Quality and Customer Satisfaction at Thales InFlyt Experience. “We can easily share with our customers and OEMs how Lean-Agile is a part of what we do.”

Delivering More Often, with Higher Quality

Today, Thales InFlyt Experience has been using SAFe for two years, and now runs several Agile Release Trains (ARTs) and one value stream. The company has trained over 800 people and deployed across all departments and functions.

Through the SAFe agility transformation, Thales InFlyt Experience has successfully reduced software release cycle time by more than 30 percent, lowered cost per size point by 25 percent, improved quality with a 20 percent reduction in solution rework, and enhanced collaboration and transparency.

DevOps also proved critical for Thales, since it cannot test its systems on actual flights. Instead, the company relies on state-of-the-art tools to simulate how in-flight systems will perform. In line with SAFe, the company matched development and production environments, which is vital for successful deliveries.

Transformation leaders credit SAFe with helping to strengthen Lean-Agile practices throughout the organization.

“Thales’ framework changed from waterfall to streams of agility,” says Ted Tomoyasu, Director of Program Management. “SAFe has been instrumental in bringing agility across the enterprise”.

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Suggested Case Study:

Air France- KLM

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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Suggested Case Study: Westpac

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