Pôle emploi is the French national employment agency tasked with providing and processing benefits for the unemployed and seniors, helping the unemployed find jobs, and providing employers with recruitment resources. They employ over 54,000 civil servants through 900+ agencies, and publish more than 4 million job offers annually.
In 2014, the agency processed 8 million requests for financial aid, distributing $31.7 billion euros in benefits.
In early 2015, pôle emploi was asked to develop a new process for job seekers, no small feat given that the organization was operating in a legacy environment which included a 1600-member IT Department comprised of Scrum and waterfall teams, working with new technology as well as COBOL systems, and integrating work from several external suppliers
They first met with key stakeholders to create the program context and agree on realistic scope, then explored options to fulfill the commitment, and sought a solution to meet the needs of these key areas:
- What can we do to meet our commitments ?
- What can we do to stay in sync?
- What can we do to increase team collaboration?
- What can we do to reduce integration risks on such a large scope ?
- How can we maintain a good vision of the product?
- How can we track the progress of so many teams?
In early 2015, pôle emploi launched a SAFe pilot program to see how the Framework would work within their unique context. As part of this effort, they launched an Agile Release Train (ART) with 5 Scrum teams running on 3-week sprints, managing five cross-functional initiatives. Through Program Increment planning, they brought together all the key actors in the same room to identify key features that needed to be integrated, and dependencies between the different software components. pôle emploi created a new role, Delivery Manager, to track overall progress, and used IBM’s Rational Team Concert (RTC) to track team progress.
After the first few months, they were able to identify where the Framework mapped easily to their context, where it didn’t, and how to reconcile some of those differences. For instance, they opted to move from the Delivery Manager role to a Release Train Engineer (RTE) role, as defined in SAFe and began using SAFe-recommended templates to increase the visibility of the new business requirements. They also decided to align ART with their business program.
Today, the IT organization operates with both agile and non-agile teams collaborating, and is transitioning the non-agile teams to agile practices through their participation in the SAFe ART. They are working within the Framework to identify areas for continuous improvement and address questions such as:
- How do we manage to take the business further within Agility?
- Could WSJF help our prioritization process?
- Who should assume the Product Management role in our organization?
- How can we move forward with the system team?
- Should we organize PO sync?
- Who can be assigned the System Architect role?
- Who should deal with the enablers and stories?
- Will we be able to dissociate PI from our quarterly IT releases?
- What do we need to do to move more teams to an agile cycle?
Get the rest of the story—including the update—below.
Many thanks to the team at pôle emploi for providing the study, and sharing your experience with the SAFe Community: Cécile Auret (SPC4), Methods Engineer, Jerome Froville (SPC4), Methods Engineer, and Michel Levaslot, Manager.