TV Globo – Agility Is Transforming the Largest Media Company

How Enterprise Agility Is Transforming the Largest Media Company in Latin America

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TV Globo is Brazil’s largest TV network serving 100 million viewers in 130 countries.

Like many other media companies, Globo needed to accelerate its digital transformation journey. Their waterfall project approach did not support the speed that was needed to meet this challenge. They needed an Agile approach! But how do you implement Agile in a highly complex environment with hundreds of legacy solutions and a silo-based culture?

Both culture and technology had to be transformed. After some small Agile initiatives, TV Globo decided to adopt SAFe. They started bottom-up. The IT Director sponsored their first implementation of SAFe in two main business areas: Commercial and Content Production. The results after the first year of implementation were impressive. Leaving behind their “who is right” or “who is guilty” approach, business and technology areas were able to work more closely with a value-driven approach. The empowerment and engagement that resulted from aligning business and tech around the same purpose and company priorities resulted in significant improvements:

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

Inspired by these early results, Globo expanded its practice of SAFe. New Value Streams were implemented in other areas, this time sponsored by the C-level, and Globo is designing its roadmap to expand the implementation throughout the company. It has been an exciting, challenging, and rewarding journey so far!

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

  • Luciana Povoa, Head of Content Production Solutions /Globo

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Aegon Asset Management

Aegon Asset Management Unites Executives and Global Teams to Deliver Faster and More Predictably

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With roots going back 200 years, Aegon Group is one of the world’s leading providers of life insurance, pensions, and asset management. The global company operates in more than 20 countries with 26,000 employees and reports more than EUR 804 billion in revenue-generating investments. As part of Aegon Group, Aegon Asset Management (AAM) intends to retain its industry-leading position. AAM set some big goals, including digitalization and accelerating the pace of change. To achieve those objectives, and more, IT leaders realized that distributed teams in the UK, Netherlands, and the US needed to collaborate on a global level. AAM had begun bottom-up, informal efforts in Agile and DevOps, and yet, the teams still weren’t able to work together effectively.

AAM turned to SAFe as a means to expand the company’s Agile efforts and keep teams synchronized across borders. They saw SAFe’s Portfolio level as a way to align enterprise strategy with Portfolio execution and were able to establish a single, global backlog reviewed and prioritized by C-suite stakeholders. AAM is a model for showcasing the importance of executive engagement, Lean Portfolio Management, consistent expectations, and how a successful transformation needs all levels of the organization.

“We saw SAFe as providing a unifying structure to get our different units working together in the same way.”
—Philip Johnson, Global Chief Change Officer, Aegon Asset Management

Presented at the Global SAFe Summit, October 2020.

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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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EdgeVerve Systems – Scaled Agile Framework for IT

“SAFe was the right fit because of the dynamics and goals at EdgeVerve. It helps bring the alignment and cultural change needed to deliver faster results in an organization with many dependencies across products.”

Dr. Ronen Barnahor, Head of Agile Business Transformation, EdgeVerve Systems

Challenge:

With releases every 6-18 months, the company set a goal of further improving time-to-market, quality, flexibility, and predictability.

Industry:

Information Technology

Results:

  • Release time improved by 50 – 66%
  • Planning every 10 weeks sharpens predictability
  • Feature cycle time went down by 50 percent
  • The cost per feature point dropped by eight percent from one PI to the next
  • Reduction in escaped defects and increased customer satisfaction

Best Practices:

  • Managers first – By beginning training with managers, EdgeVerve gained essential buy-in that helped influence the C-level and team level
  • Merging Testing and Engineering – Bringing these groups together reduced what were distinct silos
  • Common cadence – EdgeVerve kept everyone on a common cadence, even before bringing all teams into the Framework
  • Hybrid model of implementation – ARTs and managers of non-ARTs aligned on the same cadence and planning activities

Introduction

Banks across 94 countries, serving 848 million consumers, rely on Finacle, an industry-leading universal banking suite from EdgeVerve Systems Ltd. A wholly-owned subsidiary of the global IT company, Infosys, EdgeVerve develops software products that enable businesses across multiple industries to innovate, accelerate growth, and have deeper connections with stakeholders. Gartner and Forrester consistently name EdgeVerve at the top of their rankings for banking platforms.

In 2015, the company set an aggressive goal of improving time-to-market, quality, flexibility, and predictability.

SAFe: a framework for faster results

Scaled Agile Framework for IT

For guidance, the management brought on Dr. Ronen Barnahor, now Head of Agile Business Transformation. Barnahor recommended the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) to help instigate real change, quickly.

“Our mission is to adopt a Lean and Agile mindset and practices, and become a learning organization focused on continuous improvement to provide better value to our customers,” Barnahor says. “SAFe was the right fit because of the dynamics and goals at EdgeVerve. It helps bring the alignment and cultural change needed to deliver faster results in an organization with many dependencies across products.”

Prior to adopting SAFe, the teams at EdgeVerve were working in cadence, however, their approach wasn’t effective in meeting new organizational goals.

Building a coalition from the ground up

To bolster internal buy-in, EdgeVerve appointed Jasdeep Singh Kaler, an AVP and 20-year veteran of the company, to help Barnahor lead the effort. Through a contest, the transformation earned the name “Mach 1”—a nod to the importance of speed.

In alignment with SAFe, EdgeVerve began with training, choosing first to focus specifically on managers. VPs and directors, and about 30 leads across all functional areas attended two days of Leading SAFe®. The training created buzz about the transformation and gave the C-level confidence that moving to SAFe was accepted by internal leaders. By the end of the class, participants signaled they were ready to move forward with SAFe, with confidence scores of 4 and 5.

With positive feedback from leaders, C-level executives attended a one-day management workshop that included principles from Leading SAFe. There, they set implementation goals and approved the new direction. Knowing they would begin with the Finacle banking solution, they identified dependencies, defined all Value Streams and established who would join in the first two Agile Release Trains (ARTs).

“This was a crucial meeting with leads from product strategy, delivery, architecture, and testing, to help them embrace the concepts of the Value Stream and the ART, optimize the whole process, gain a systems view, decentralize decisions, and more,” Barnahor says.

Quick Wins

Scaled Agile Framework for IT

In April 2016, EdgeVerve kicked off the first Program Increment (PI) using SAFe with a 2-day planning meeting in Bangalore, India. The event brought together 60 individuals from multiple locations across India. The CTO attended, sending a message about the importance of the change for EdgeVerve.

In subsequent ART launches and PI planning events, the heads of engineering, product strategy, product management and other senior leaders participated with great commitment—bolstering the adoption at a grassroots level.

The event itself excited and motivated team members: “We had fun as a team in PI planning and that enabled us to do better work,” says one team member.

Hybrid implementation model—ARTs + Non-ARTs

As the company launched two ARTs, it did so with just two coaches. For that reason, EdgeVerve continued running non-SAFe teams on the same cadence—in what it calls a “hybrid model.”

“We didn’t have the coaching capacity to structure everyone into SAFe, but they all aligned on the same cadence with a centralized backlog,” Barnahor explains.

While EdgeVerve began implementing SAFe, managers of other products outside of ARTs were trained concurrently in Program-level activities.
Under the hybrid approach, all product teams (ARTs and non-ARTs) aligned in several ways:

  • The same cadence (sprints and PI)
  • Working in IBM Rational Team Concert
  • Pre-planning + PI Planning (For non-ARTs, only managers joined in PI planning)
  • Execution (For non-ARTs, there was no coaching. Leads managed the work as previously but with a focus on demos in cadence with ARTs.)
  • Product and solution-level demos
  • Retrospectives (In non-ARTs, only managers joined.)

“The hybrid model of implementation of a full ART plus managers first in non-ART teams contributed to faster alignment and predictability across products within the integrated banking solution,” Barnahor says.

Very quickly, teams began delivering on cadence, demonstrating early value to management. SAFe also sharpened visibility, enabling them to predict more accurately. As a result, the Product Management Organization began to understand the power of “velocity” as a prediction metric and began using the Agile dashboard that EdgeVerve developed.

Changing the Culture

As EdgeVerve launched trains, the company concurrently focused heavily on changing the culture, with the belief that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” According to Kaler, since EdgeVerve focused on ‘managers first,’ these individuals became key influencers in the cultural change. The main focus was around breaking the silos, establishing common ownership on quality, managing and improving through data, and an emphasis on outcome and business value instead of on utilization.

The new, common terminology of SAFe (ARTs, ceremonies, and cadence) ensured everyone spoke the same language. With a common language, they could more easily understand expectations and minimize misunderstandings.

“From a change management perspective, everyone understood that EdgeVerve had embarked on something important at the organizational level that is based on a proven industry framework,” Barnahor says. “We had fewer arguments on definitions. I told them, ‘Let’s adapt SAFe definitions and practices, observe the impact on the ground during execution, and then change. Why reinvent the wheel?’”

Scaled Agile Framework for IT

The company also altered its success measures to help influence behavior, asking questions such as…

  • Are we delivering desired value to customers?
  • Are we on time? If not, when can we deliver the committed scope?
  • Are we on scope? If not, what we will not deliver on due date?
  • Are we on top of quality?
  • Are we on flow? Any bottlenecks? Starvation? Backlog readiness for the next PI? What is the average cycle time?
  • Can we predict well?
  • How do employees feel about the change?

As attitudes changed, EdgeVerve collected feedback from the field and shared positive comments from team members and managers widely on posters and in videos—with the goal of spreading enthusiasm.

Additionally, the company adjusted the organizational structure to support the change. From developer to head of engineering, EdgeVerve reduced the number of organizational layers from seven layers to just four layers.

Perhaps the biggest difference came in moving the distinct testing organization, which was under delivery, into engineering—a decision that quickly improved relations between developers and testers. In line with SAFe, testing also now happens concurrently with development with greater focus on acceptance automation.

Reducing cycle time, increasing quality

Today, the company runs eight ARTs with approximately 800 people across three value streams and one portfolio. They launch a new ART every six weeks. At the same time, they run five teams of teams that are not part of the SAFe transformation.

Less than a year after deploying SAFe, EdgeVerve reported significant gains:

  • Reduced time-to-market – For large enterprise products, release time dropped from 12 – 18 months to six months, and for small products, from six months to three months
  • Improved predictability – The company plans consistently every 10 weeks, which increases flexibility for changing scope with minimal cost
  • Expedited feature speed – Feature cycle time went down by 50 percent
  • Elevated efficiency – The cost per feature point dropped by eight percent from one PI to the next
  • Fewer defects – The company significantly improved early detection of defects, leading to fewer escaped defects and increased customer satisfaction

Dissolving silos

As the PIs progressed, team members could clearly see the advantages of the new approach. Most notably, communication and collaboration improved, with evidence that silos were dissolving.

“The way teams were working, even a minor downtime was clearly a cascading effect in the team’s progress,” says one team member. “Teams identified it, they came up with solutions, and they worked together.

Scaled Agile Framework for IT

“If code was not working, we got the right contacts, spoke to the code team and got the issue resolved,” says another team member. “This is a big change from the software developer’s perspective on how they approach their work.”

“The developer-tester relationship was better,” says another. “You can directly check with them for the issues you’re facing.”
Additionally, anonymous participant surveys reflected progress. The company asked approximately 300 people about the impact of SAFe. Most notably, there was an 89% improvement in trust and communication across different functions while 73% believe that SAFe helped increase productivity/throughput.

Even as EdgeVerve sees positive results and culture shifts, transformation leaders find it is an ongoing process. With demonstrated results, they gained backing to hire more coaches. Looking ahead, the main challenge, Barnahor says, is middle management’s mind-set—transforming managers to act as Agile leaders and mentors to the teams by focusing on an Agile leadership program.

“It’s a transformation of hearts and minds,” Kaler says. “We made sure that managers believed in what we’re doing and slowly the culture is changing.”

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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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Intel – Implementing SAFe for Information Technology

Intel - Implementing SAFe for Information Technology

In 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore made a stunning observation: The number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits had doubled every 18 months since their invention. He predicted the trend would continue into the foreseeable future—and it generally has. A billion transistors now fit on a chip the size of a pea.

Challenge:

In a complex, fast-growth industry, Intel must continuously innovate while controlling costs and maintaining quality.

Industry:

Information Technology

Solution:

SAFe®, Agile and Lean

Results:

  • MVE delivered 65% more products with the same capacity.
  • Improved Commit-to-Accept ratios from 74% to +90%.
  • Everything is visible to everyone.
  • Scope change reduced to less than 5%.

Best Practices:

  • Choose the right RTEs – Intel found that effective RTEs have a combination of technical background and a deeper Agile mindset/experience
  • Train the Leaders – Business owners and Train Management should be required to attend SAFe training. It is critical that the leaders speak for the transformation, act as role models, and reinforce direction within the organization. Leverage advocates in the organization whenever possible.
  • Always end with Inspect & Adapt – Just get started and then learn and adapt. Favor “progress over perfection.”
  • Keep it Simple – Don’t overcomplicate the process, and bring things back to the basics of Agile and Lean.

Introduction

Intel has been integral in pushing that pace of growth in the marketplace. Today, the company employs more than 100,000 people globally and reports net revenue of $59.4 billion.

But like most enterprises, as it continuously innovates and expands, Intel must balance cost control while maintaining high quality.

“With the complexity and number of the products skyrocketing, if we didn’t adjust or adapt, other than adding more people, Moore’s Law would crush us,” says Allen Ringel, Lean & Agile Transformation Leader, Intel.

Agile at Enterprise Scale

Agile at Enterprise Scale

Intel’s Manufacturing Development Organization (MDO) division tests and validates Intel solutions, producing over two million lines of code every two weeks. In an effort to deliver more value, MDO began to adopt Lean-Agile practices in 2005, and by 2012 had small pockets of Scrum and a homegrown solution for scaling Scrum.

“We found the Agile approach attractive because it turns the Iron Triangle on its head,” Ringel says. “Features are negotiable but time, cost, and quality are not.”

Yet as more people and divisions were folded into MDO, Intel found it increasingly difficult to scale Scrum. Thus, a team of about 15 people tasked with driving Lean-Agile at Intel looked at industry frameworks for ways to scale more effectively.

In 2013, MDO discovered the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®), which provided clear structure and roles for taking the company into the next phase of Agile. SAFe also aligned well with the company’s broader Lean approach as a learning organization focused on continuous improvement and waste elimination.

“In an organization as large as MDO we needed to standardize the planning and execution process we use to work together to deliver value,” Ringel says. “When we encountered SAFe it provided a proven, public framework, with well-defined roles and artifacts for applying Lean and Agile at the enterprise level.”

Those 15 Lean-Agile leaders prepared for the implementation by attending the SAFe Program Consultant (SPC) Certification training. After mapping the roles, principles, practices & tools to back to what currently existed in the organization, they had essentially created a trail through the forest with a visible plan for implementation. Then they jumped in with both feet.

Leading up to the first Program Increment (PI) planning event, Intel trained more than 1,500 people. Over the course of eight weeks, they launched eight Agile Release Trains (ARTs) with 170 Scrum teams—with Christmas and New Year’s in the middle. To ease the transition, the 15 Intel Lean-Agile coaches were embedded at the 14 different sites with MDO teams to answer questions and provide guidance.

At Intel, executive backing proved critical to the success of the rollout. Mohsen Fazlian, General Manager of the division, created a shared vision by communicating clearly about the reasons for adopting SAFe and scaling Agile. Intel also reinforced Scrum rules for teams to be properly sized, co-located, 100% committed, and cross-functional. Where co-location was not possible & budgets allowed, Intel brought together people in person for at least the first planning event.

That first PI, admittedly, demanded considerably more effort than subsequent events. Yet, the ability to see immediate value spurred momentum. “The planning events were essential for teams to align at the train level while highlighting dependencies and allowing risk mitigation early on,” Ringel says.

Intel made a few enhancements to the typical SAFe deployment. They digitized the program board so they could see everything on a dashboard at all times and identify efforts quickly as progressing normally or abnormally. Lean-Agile leaders guided managers in looking at abnormal areas from a new perspective. If something turned red on the virtual program board, instead of managers saying, “Fix this,” they ask, “How can I help?”

Training 2,000 Over Three Months

Fast forward to 2017. Intel has grown Lean-Agile practices at a pace that rivals Moore’s Law. The well-defined roles and terminology within SAFe serve as essential signposts for those new to the Framework.

The structure has kept the trains on track as the organization continuously expands. A merger with another group—now combined under the name Manufacturing Value Engineering (MVE)—nearly doubled the size of the organization.

Agile at Enterprise Scale

To fold in the new division, MVE trained nearly 2,000 people over three months and immediately organized them into trains. While the change came as a bit of a shock to some, the rapid integration enabled people to participate in the Agile system while trainers consistently communicated the value of the change, helping people experience it first hand and embrace their roles with the new way of working.

“We all feel part of a bigger thing and speak a common language that everyone understands,” Ringel says. “There’s clarity in the model we work in, which has definitely been something people latch on to.”

Ringel says that Intel has settled on an acceptable ratio of coaches to employees: 1:200-250. “We have shown management that we can deliver value with half a percent of the organization as transformation leaders,” he says.

One of the Largest Reported SAFe Deployment

Today, MVE has over 440 Scrums organized into 35 ARTs, including software and hardware engineers. MVE continues to widen the circle and is frequently consulted by organizations throughout Intel. Adjacent organizations at Intel interested in MVE’s success have enlisted MVE to help with scaling Agile, leading to eight additional ARTs in partner organizations. In fact, Intel’s effort is one of the largest publicly reported SAFe deployment based on number of ARTs.

While scaling has not been easy, it has been worth it. The impact of these efforts ripples across the company.

Increased Product Variants

  • Helped MVE to delivered 65% more product variants

Strong Performance-to-Schedule Discipline

  • Capacity-based planning and cadence provides a heartbeat and prevents schedule slips
  • Customers and upper management are changing their behaviors to protect the cadence set by Program Increments
  • Commit-to-Accept ratios improved from 74% to +90%
  • MVE minimized scope change in Program Increments to less than 5%

Increased Transparency & Visibility

  • The company identified bugs, impediments, weak tools and poor engineering habits
  • Transparency is invaluable and everything is visible to everyone
  • Communication & conversations are more valuable than tracking indicators in a tool
  • MVE now has a strong community with a common language

Institutionalized Process

  • Teams have demanded adherence when the environment becomes chaotic

Ultimately, Intel’s Lean-Agile efforts help it maintain the industry’s rapid rate of growth.

“Lean & Agile help us deliver more products without adding more people, so we can stay competitive and keep up with Moore’s Law,” Ringel says.

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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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Royal Philips

“Philips is continuously driving to develop high-quality software in a predictable, fast and Agile way. SAFe addresses this primary goal, as well as offering these further benefits: reduced time to market and improved quality, stronger alignment across geographically distributed multi-disciplinary teams, and collaboration across teams to deliver meaningful value to customers with reduced cycle time.”

Sundaresan Jagadeesan, Program Manager – I2M Excellence SW Development Program

Challenge:

Philips sought to transition from traditional development to Agile, as well as bring an Agile mindset to business units beyond software to address the needs of a dynamic customer environment.

Industry:

Information Technology, Healthcare

Solution:

SAFe®

Results:

  • Average release cycle time down from 18 months to 6 months
  • Feature cycle time reduced from >240 to <100 days
  • Sprint and PI deliveries on time, leading to “release on demand”
  • Quality improvements—zero regressions in some business units
  • 5 major releases per train per year on demand

Best Practices:

Philips recommends a straightforward, 4-step approach for any organization aiming to transition to Agile

  • Develop products in the Agile way with focus on basic Agile practices (Scrum)
  • Establish product ownership with a focus on enabling scaling aspects (SAFe practices)
  • Establish a release pipeline with continuous integration (supported by automation)
  • Adopt a DevOps culture with focus on continuous delivery (to production environment)

Introduction

Netherlands-based Royal Philips is a $26 billion medical technology company committed to making the world healthier and more sustainable through innovation. Their goal is to improve the lives of 3 billion people a year by 2025, so being able to achieve faster time to market has a direct impact not just on bottom line, but on millions of lives as well.

Agile Transformation Journey

In 2014, the company began exploring the use of Agile methods to improve processes and increase efficiency across the organization. With a traditional, project-based approach to software development, release cycle time averaged 18 months. Philips had to accelerate delivery to meet market demands.

“Changing customer expectations and the tremendous pace of market disruptions require a framework and processes that are quick, scalable and responsive,” says Sundaresan Jagadeesan, Program Manager at Philips Electronic India Limited. “The Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) with its non-linear approach and adaptability, is the way of the future.”

Vigorously Deploying SAFe

At Philips, the SAFe initiative fell within a program called I2M Excellence Idea to Market. The program is part of Accelerate!, a multi-year, worldwide business-transformation program designed to change the way the company does business and unlock its full potential. To that end, the company formed a foundational core of Scrum, upon which it could build SAFe practices.

“We chose SAFe to meet our goals of reducing time to market, improving quality, strengthening alignment across geographically distributed multi-disciplinary teams, and collaborating across teams to deliver meaningful value to customers with reduced cycle time,” says Jagadeesan.

Philips is now vigorously deploying SAFe in its software businesses and is piloting its use in complex systems environments (hardware, software, mechanical engineering, customer support and electrical teams). What’s more, the company has brought SAFe beyond software development to the R&D activities of a number of businesses, particularly in the Business Group, Healthcare Informatics, Solutions & Services (BG HISS).

Agile Transformation Journey

Driving Feature Cycle Time Down 58%

To date, Philips has 42 ARTs running across various business units, making this one of the larger-scale SAFe implementations. With a focus on the systems business, the company has launched multiple ARTs there as well, including the first ART in Philips China.

Agile Transformation Journey

The results:

  • Average release cycle time down from 18 months to 6 months
  • A greater focus on the customer mindset
  • Feature cycle time reduced from >240 to <100 days
  • Sprint and PI deliveries on time, leading to “release on demand”
  • Quality improvements—zero regressions in some business units
  • 5 major releases per train per year on demand, each catering to multiple products
  • 3700+ people engaged in a SAFe way of working
  • Around 1300+ trained and formally certified in Agile and SAFe
  • Process and tooling alignment

The results from the original pilots caught the attention of and acted as catalyst for many other business units in Philips.

Offering Key Learnings

Through this process, transition leaders at Royal Philips learned what worked most effectively. They found it important to embed the Agile mindset and approach in other crucial areas of work—not just R&D, but in areas such as HR, Finance and Q&R—to ensure streamlined, efficient processes and quicker turnaround times.

Philips also found it critical to involve the senior management and leadership team of the organization in this transitional journey.

“Finally, to ensure an effective move to Agile, it is critical to change mindsets within the organization,” Jagadeesan says. “Agile implies continuous learning as enterprise behavior, decentralized decision-making, quick adaptiveness and more.”

“Any transformation program will be successful if you actively seek and solve business problems,” he adds.

Philips Royal recommends a number of organizational and cultural changes for any company making this transformation:

  • Create an environment that encourages proactive, feedback-seeking behavior
  • Motivate teams and give them the autonomy they need to function well
  • Engage in courageous conversations
  • Enable cultural change in the organization
  • Focus on building teams for the long run with emphasis on stability
  • Trust the team to solve problems by “teaching them to fish” instead of fishing for them
  • Enable teams and support them by removing impediments
  • Differentiate between outcome (value generated) and output (velocity-productivity improvements)
  • Identify value streams and optimize around value to help the alignment and effective collaboration across the team
  • Gain stakeholder alignment, and leadership commitment and support
  • Train and coach based on roles
  • Have a deployment strategy and change leaders’ coalition to help accelerate scaled Agile transformation

“Our Agile transformation journey is successfully underway,” says Jagadeesan. “It has been a tremendous learning experience, and we continue to deliver value to all our stakeholders and customers. Agile learning is an enriching and fun-filled journey!”

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censhare – Adopting SAFe for Agility

censhare - Adopting SAFe for Agility

“Having a clear methodology and training in place has been very helpful when hiring people: Good developers expect a modern methodology. Being able to tell candidates that we take Agile principles seriously, by mentioning that we have trained and certified product owners and Scrum masters, and that we follow a clear Agile path-definitely makes a difference.”

Walter Bauer, CTO, censhare

Challenge:

As the company reached 150 people, locally developed variations of Scrum were no longer effective.

Industry:

Software

Results:

  • Faster time to market of the company’s latest product version
  • Greater alignment between product management and development
  • More team spirit
  • Enhanced employee satisfaction and an edge when hiring

Best Practices:

  • Prepare thoroughly for PI events – Before the first real PI planning meeting, Improuv organized a training session that simulated the event-leading to very successful early PIs.
  • Train product managers – Product owners and the Chief Product Owner attended the SAFe Product Owner/Product Manager (PMPO) two-day workshop, to help prepare the overall backlog.
  • Show the Program Board – The program board hangs in an area of the office seen by all, and provides a focal point for Scrum of Scrum meetings and PO/PM meetings.

Introduction

Munich-based censhare is an international software firm deploying innovative technologies that enable companies to master the next generation of digital communication. For more than 20 years, the company has offered comprehensive digital platforms geared to creating, shaping, and designing engaging customer experiences.

While censhare was not new to Agile principles, their experience was limited to locally developed interpretations of Scrum. That approach worked to an extent when the company was small, but not as well when it reached 150 people.

“I used to have regular personal contact with all people in the company, but now it’s even hard to keep this up within my own department,” explains Walter Bauer, censhare CTO.

Adopting SAFe for Agility

Train, then Launch the Train

Bauer and a product manager attended Leading SAFe® training, where they discovered the thinking and practices behind scaling Agile via the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®). Bauer saw how censhare could adapt the SAFe “Big Picture” to provide a flexible and scalable Agile way of working that would help not just development, but the organization as a whole.

Following training, the CTO decided to bring SAFe to censhare. The goal: solidify Agile across the organization and prepare it for future expansion.

With the support of Scaled Agile partner, Improuv, censhare followed the concept of “train everyone, then launch an Agile Release Train:”

  • Management
    Executive leadership attended a one-day workshop to discuss agility, scaling Agile, and to set and manage expectations. The leadership team bought into the approach and gave the green light to introduce scaled Lean-Agile practices.
  • Scrum teams
    Before focusing on scaling, censhare decided to further develop the core Agile strengths of their development teams. Scrum teams received training and coaching on Scrum and SAFe to help develop team potential and prepare them for working together at scale. All Scrum Masters received Certified Scrum Master training (CSM).
  • Product management
    Product owners and the Chief Product Owner attended the SAFe Product Manager Product Owner (PMPO) two-day workshop, becoming certified as SAFe PMPOs. This, along with coaching, helped product management prepare the overall backlog.

Kicking Off

In SAFe, the Program Increment (PI) planning meeting sets the objectives for the coming 10-week increment. To bring the organization up-to-speed before the first real PI planning meeting, Improuv organized a training session that simulated the event. This turned out to be key to the eventual success of the first planning sessions.

censhare then formed an Agile Release Train (ART) and launched it on a 10-week planning and alignment cadence. Within the 10 weeks, Scrum teams work in synchronized two-week sprints. The kickoff PI planning event followed the SAFe model.

The company introduced Scaled Agile portfolio management, aided by Portfolio-level Kanban, to add transparency to the Portfolio backlog and match demand with capacity. However, censhare is still implementing this level since there is currently a clear demand process—which is now matched to the capacity of the ART.

Improving Time to Market, Morale

Adopting SAFe for Agility

The CTO points to a number of positive outcomes resulting from SAFe:

  • Faster time to market-censhare released a new version of its product to the market (something that would have been challenging had the company not adopted SAFe). The development and release of the product was significantly faster than previous releases.
  • Greater alignment—SAFe succeeded in improving alignment between product management and development teams. Cross-team dependencies are better managed and made transparent.
  • Common vision—The Agile Release Train and 10-week cadence helped the teams develop a product globally, rather than local team deliverables.
  • More team spirit—The “we are a censhare team” spirit improved through the development team-of-teams thinking. Teams feel more empowered and involved.
  • Enhanced employee satisfaction—An employee survey revealed that employees appreciate that censhare now has a more professional way of developing products.

“Having a clear methodology and training in place has been very helpful when hiring people: Good developers expect a modern methodology. Being able to tell candidates that we take Agile principles seriously—by mentioning that we have trained and certified Product Owners and Scrum Masters, and that we follow a clear Agile path—definitely makes a difference,” Bauer says

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Westpac – Implementing SAFe in Banking Services

Westpac - Implementing SAFe in Banking Services

Everyone hearing the same message from the same trainers at the same time was a huge enabler for alignment and a ‘one-team’ culture.”

Em Campbell-Pretty, Context Matters

Challenge:

After the successful rollout of a new online banking platform, Westpac received numerous requests for additional features and needed to deliver quickly.

Industry:

Banking

Solution:

SAFe®

Results:

  • Westpac successfully took 150 people from waterfall to Agile in one week, and garnered positive feedback from teams
  • Team and business engagement went up
  • Cycle time and defects went down

Best Practices:

  • Get executive buy-in—Getting leadership on board—and participating—is essential to achieving team buy-in
  • Include all roles in training—Triple check that everyone is scheduled to get the training they need
  • Prepare, prepare, prepare—A one-week launch takes significant pre-work

Overview

One of Australia’s “big four” banks, Westpac serves approximately 10 million consumer and business customers across Australia, New Zealand, Asia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Challenge

In 2015, Westpac launched a new online banking platform. Though very successful—and award-winning—the launch resulted in a huge demand to deliver additional features quickly. The company wanted to take an Agile approach to rolling out new capabilities but lacked the training and know-how to apply it to this initiative.

Solution

Westpac reached out to Scaled Agile Partner, Context Matters, for guidance, leading to the decision to adopt SAFe, and form an Agile Release Train (ART) for the new features.

Before launch planning began, the company settled on a vision, a prioritized feature backlog, an approach to product ownership and a decision on capacity allocation.

At the time, teams were focused on delivering the final release of the in-flight program. If they were going to change the delivery approach for the next release, they would need to move fast. With a small window of opportunity, a SAFe QuickStart seemed the only answer.

Implementing SAFe in Banking Services

To achieve launch in one week, Westpac began by training everyone at the same time. Midweek, they aligned all teams to common objectives, secured commitment and continued training during planning. By week’s end, they provided orientation for specialty roles, open spaces and tool training for teams.

Development teams would be available in six weeks, so Westpac grabbed that time slot—knowing the window would be tight. After buy-in from executives on the business and IT sides, they were ready for next steps.

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

2 Days of Leading SAFe® Training

Next, 32 leaders across business and IT came together for two days of Leading SAFe training to discuss SAFe in the Westpac context, generating team excitement. Together, leaders came up with a theme for the train—Galaxy—with all teams receiving related names.

“Giving the train a shared identity helps create a bond across the team of teams that is the Agile Release Train, seeding the “one-team” culture that helps trains excel,” says Em Campbell-Pretty of Context Matters.

SAFe Scrum XP training brought together 60 people in one release train of eight teams over two days with two trainers in one room. The RTE additionally joined team-level training for both days, leading team members to note his commitment to SAFe.

“Everyone hearing the same message from the same trainers at the same time was a huge enabler for alignment and a ‘one-team’ culture,” says Campbell-Pretty.

The following Monday, Westpac launched the train. Some last-minute feature requests presented a hiccup, but the teams and leadership committed to a plan.

Results: Cycle Time, Defects Down

  • Westpac successfully took 100 people from waterfall to Agile in one week, and garnered positive feedback from teams. Team and business engagement went up while cycle time and defects went down.
  • Agile at Westpac continues to grow, with the company holding its third PI Planning session recently.

Additional Reading

For a deeper dive into this SAFe experience, download Em-Campbell Pretty’s presentation to AgileAustralia16.

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