MetLife – SAFe Enterprise Agility

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MetLife is one of 12 Fortune 500 companies to thrive for over 150 years. Met has scale and a proud history … and the many challenges of incumbency including legacy systems and challenges to speed. Agile is quickly being embraced as the way to achieve speed in innovation.

In this 45-minute video, Cheryl Crupi shares the story of how a small team sold MetLife’s new CEO and his new executive group on Agility. This short, immersive session enabled this executive group to experience Agile for themselves and resulted in a third of the group to request individual follow-up on how they can embrace Agility, including HR, Legal, Marketing and regional business presidents.

Presented at 2019 Global SAFe Summit by:
Cheryl Crupi, Assistant Vice President, Global LACEMetLife

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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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HPE Software – Agile Expansion with SAFe

HPE Software - Agile Expansion with SAFe

With a proven framework, we can deliver solutions much faster and with less effort. SAFe® defines the roles, teams, activities and artifacts to apply Lean and Agile principles at enterprise scale, and provides outstanding training and coaching materials to increase our chance of success.”

Peter Vollmer, Distinguished Technologist at HPE

Challenge:

HP teams had experimented with Agile methods for years, but efforts were limited to individual teams with mixed results.

Industry:

Information Technology, Software

Solution:

  • SAFe®
  • HPE Agile Manager
  • HPE ALM

Results:

  • Teams run iterations within a number of weeks rather than months.
  • Typically, teams complete sprints within two weeks.
  • The company noticed a 20 percent drop in defects.
  • Company leaders are backing Agile globally as means of meeting strategic business goals.

Best Practices:

  • Start small – Start with one or two teams to reduce risk and create evangelists that will spread the news.
  • Use a light hand – Don’t force teams to go Agile but rather let evangelists share that Agile is fun and delivers better results.
  • Educate, educate, educate – Establish change agents and continuously educate. Many may assume they know what Agile is all about, but in reality may not.

Introduction

Created as a result of the split of Hewlett Packard into two companies in late 2015, the newly formed Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) helps organizations adapt to modern digital demands—to create secure, cloud-enabled, mobile-friendly infrastructures. HPE Software, one of four divisions within HPE, drives a significant percentage of the company’s overall profit.

Agile Expansion with SAFe

At HPE, business units span multiple continents, from the headquarters in Palo Alto, CA to Europe and Asia Pacific. One product team may include members in up to five different locations.

The company’s journey to Agile began as early as 2001, when some HP teams began iterative development independently. In the years that followed, they went on to experiment with a mix of XP, Kanban and Scrum. However, their efforts, while approaching Agile, were limited to individual teams with mixed results.

To scale Agile adoption beyond a few scattered teams would require a more formalized effort and a methodical approach to ensure business continuity.

“We needed to respond more quickly to user requests and environmental changes, and reduce the cost of software development using traditional methodologies such as waterfall,” says Peter Vollmer, Distinguished Technologist at HPE. “Yet we could not risk compromising core business processes and KPIs.”

A Proven Framework for Faster Delivery

When team leaders evaluated the variety of Agile methodologies, they found the measured approach they needed in the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®).

“With a proven framework, we can deliver solutions much faster and with less effort,” Vollmer says. “SAFe defines the roles, teams, activities and artifacts to apply Lean and Agile principles at enterprise scale, and provides outstanding training and coaching materials to increase our chance of success.”

HPE began SAFe Agile expansion with a “coalition of the willing,” Vollmer says. The first to raise their hands, a team based in Fort Collins, Colorado, with members in India, became the first to begin SAFe training and certification. With the Colorado team underway, a second-team at HPE’s headquarters in Sunnyvale began as well.

Beyond the Classroom

HPE Software - Agile Expansion with SAFe

To help teams apply SAFe beyond the classroom, HPE provided some teams with access to a trainer to educate and coach them through the process. Coaches provide feedback to teams, ask questions and help them find the right answers based on context, culture and environment. To coach the first two teams, and now others, Vollmer ramped up on SAFe through a SAFe Program Consultant (SPC) course.

Success with scaling Agile at HPE has hinged on education and ensuring that team members understood SAFe clearly, including taking the effort to get on the same page regarding terminology. “We found a great deal of misunderstanding when it comes to Agile and its principles, which is why teams often struggle with accepting the change,” Vollmer says. “In order to get the most out of Agile practices, each team should have a trainer who educates and coaches them throughout the learning and adoption process.”

20% Defect Drop

Early SAFe users evangelized their experience, increasing engagement and adoption. To date, several hundred team members have attended SAFe training and achieved certification. Those actively applying Agile methods numbers in the thousands, based on usage of an HPE-developed onboarding portal (Agile Manager), and continues to grow. Between 2014 and 2015, the number of registered users jumped by 50 percent as the effort gained momentum.

Though still adopting SAFe more broadly, HPE already sees an impact. “Our teams run iterations within a number of weeks rather than months, all while executing robust delivery processes,” Vollmer says. And with the change, teams run sprints in two weeks instead of four.

As SAFe practices expanded, the company also noticed a 20 percent drop in defects, as measured by its own defect-tracking application. Within the system, HPE can easily measure key performance indicators, including customer-encountered defects – insight that contributes to customer satisfaction and delivering higher-quality releases on schedule.

“Like most of our customers, HPE Software must adopt Enterprise Agile practices,” says Jerome Labat, CTO of HP Software. “Working closely with our HPE ALM (application lifecycle management) and AGM (Agile Manager) engineering teams allows us to continuously improve our product, scale out our software operations while keeping our costs under control. We‘ve seen tremendous benefits such as efficiencies, improved quality, and a reduction in time-to-market windows.”

Next Steps

HPE Software - Agile Expansion with SAFe

So far, HPE has run four Agile Release Trains (ARTs), all in one business unit. In the coming months, another business unit in Sunnyvale will quickly launch another ART.

Next, HPE Software targets training an additional thousand people on SAFe, which includes all R&D and product management roles. Toward that effort, HPE will establish an Agile transformation team and deploy up to three SPC-certified change agents in each major geographic area.

All these steps underscore the increasing importance of scaling Agile in meeting HPE’s broader strategic business goals.

“We have to get the whole of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, from a development perspective, adopting the Agile methodology, so that we can go faster and deliver more to our customers’ expectations,” said Martin Fink, CTO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

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