U.S. Airforce / Northrop Grumman – Lean-Agile Mindset

Lean-Agile Mindset & DevSecOps in a Multi-billion Dollar Defense System

Share:

How do you achieve unprecedented communication between contractor, government, and stakeholders in a large acquisition?

Northrop Grumman and US Air Force agile transformation leads describe how they have worked together to leverage SAFe and DevSecOps to scale Agile practices to refine requirements, enable customer and stakeholder collaboration, and facilitate technical planning for the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) modernization program. The development occurs under a multi-billion dollar contract involving hundreds of companies and over 10,000 people across the US.

GBSD’s 50-year mission is vital to our nation’s security and adoption of a Lean-Agile mindset is essential to meeting GBSD’s schedule and capability requirements.

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

  • David Gellen, Agile Transformation Lead for GBSD /Northrop Grumman
  • Micheal Burkhart, Lead for Agile Transformation of the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent program /U.S. Air Force

Back to: Customer Stories

Next: Kaiser Permanente Customer Story

Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty SE – SAFe Journey

Customer Story – Allianz: AGCS’ SAFe Journey To Become a Data Driven Enterprise

Share:

After multiple mergers, our data systems were disjointed. To add to this, the newest International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS17) is set to go into effect in January 2023, making data management crucial from a regulatory perspective. We implemented the latest version of SAPHANA, a database management system in partnership with Accenture. This brought our data together under a centralized solution while offering near real-time data processing and better reporting and analytics.

SAFe provided the structure we needed to scale Agile in a complex SAP and non-SAP landscape. SAFe allowed us to organize around value and grow seamless integrated cross-functional teams aligned with the company’s long-term strategy. Our SAP DevSecOps automation pipeline helped to reach SAP Delivery Agility which paved the way to build the capabilities needed to reach SAP Business Agility. SAFe addressed the complexities and gave us the framework for building portfolios, roles, and jobs to achieve our goals for customer centricity, speed, and quality. DevSecOps is a mindset, an enterprise-wide culture and practice. We will showcase how Allianz applied the five core concepts of DevSecOps and Release on Demand across the five core concepts and become a Data-Driven Enterprise.

Presented at the Global SAFe Summit, October, 2020.

Back to: Customer Stories

Next: TV Globo Customer Story

Murex – SAFe Implementation for Financial Software

Murex - SAFe Implementation for Financial Software

“Using SAFe to deploy agility at scale across our product factory has been fundamental to putting in place the mindset necessary for our transition to DevOps across our value chain. We still have further to go on this journey, but the benefits we see have proven that the SAFe framework was the right choice to accelerate our transformation.”

Jonathan Coyle, Head of Agile Factory Operations

Challenge:

With its MX.3 platform in use across the globe, Murex sought to maintain and build upon its market-leading position while continuing to respond rapidly to support the changing needs of clients and global regulatory demands.

Industry:

Information Technology, Financial Services

Solution:

SAFe®

Results:

  • 10X faster production-like testing
  • A full functional testing cycle in just one hour
  • 85% reduction in user story cycle time
  • Time to release for internal test management system dropped from 37 man-days to two
  • 95 percent of those asked would not want to return to the old way of working

Best Practices:

  • Communicate continuously – You cannot over-communicate on your vision or the ‘why.’ Constantly reinforce the mission context.
  • Prepare for challenges – Be ready to tackle the problems that emerge quickly as teams and trains accelerate.
  • Anticipate changes in culture and people – Don’t underestimate the cultural impacts that agility at scale brings and be ready to invest in people.
  • Invest in collaboration infrastructure – Murex invested heavily in digital solutions to help foster collaboration between distributed teams.
  • Provide coaching and SAFe training – Coaching and training guides teams and individuals through the huge changes that they go through during the transformation and sets the stage for success.

Introduction

Every day, over 50,000 people in 60 countries rely on financial software from Murex. For more than 30 years, Murex has provided financial technology solutions for capital markets, from banking and asset management to energy and commodities. The independent, Paris-based company employs more than 2,200 people across 17 countries.

Murex’s flagship, award-winning platform, MX.3, supports trading, treasury, risk, and post-trade operations, enabling clients to better meet regulatory requirements, manage risk, and control IT costs. To maintain its industry-leading position, Murex continues focusing on building transformative technology, but faces numerous challenges in those efforts:

Murex - SAFe Implementation for Financial Software
  • Changing regulations across regions
  • Complex and growing customer demands
  • Legacy IT and processes

As well, Murex wanted to improve its quality and time-to-market in getting new capabilities to customers.

“The impact of technology and regulation on financial institutions means they need to find new ways to adapt faster,” explained Joe Iafigliola, Head of Americas for Murex. “To answer this challenge, Murex realized that we needed to provide a more flexible and Agile approach to project delivery. While this brings more predictability and convergence, it also allows greater flexibility to make changes that are required during a project.”

Pursuing Continuous Delivery the SAFe® Way

Murex - SAFe Implementation for Financial Software

Murex chose to apply SAFe to both its product development and the infrastructure supporting product development for proper business agility, and thus created a Value Stream for each:

Value Stream #1 – Development of MX.3, its flagship product

Murex’s first Value Stream onboarded 700 engineers in eight ARTs for the development of its MX.3 trading, risk, and post-trade platform. This ART targets consistent Agile development practices, continuous integration, improved cycle time, and a faster feedback loop.

Value Stream #2 – Infrastructure evolution for MX.3 development and delivery

Murex created a second Value Stream to evolve the underlying development infrastructure, which includes development environments, versioning, build pipeline, and test management systems. Before SAFe, this portfolio released about every 10 weeks. Following the SAFe implementation, this timeframe has been reduced to two weeks.

Both Value Streams run with a DevOps flow. They follow sprint-based development on a two-week cadence with a continuous delivery pipeline. And batch sizes, iterations, and feedback cycles—all hallmarks of DevOps best practices—are all reduced.

Murex has also started piloting a DevOps approach for client rollouts and upgrades. They created a full development environment for customization of the MX.3 platform for clients. They now handle configuration, tests, test data, and infrastructure as code, and every piece is importable and exportable, and version-able in source control. Smaller changes flow to production more easily, reducing the challenges associated with large releases.

In pilot tests, the SAFe DevOps approach has shown promising results and is fostering more collaborative relations with clients.

“We found that, with a DevOps approach, validation timescales can be cut in half when compared to traditional methods,” added Hassan Kamal, Head of Software Engineering. “This unlocks huge potential in terms of delivering incremental value because we can react faster to changing market and regulatory requirements.”

Impressive Productivity Gains

As of today, Murex has trained more than 1,000 people in SAFe, or half the company, with teams distributed across its three development centers in Paris, Dublin, and Beirut. Its efforts have driven measurable progress across numerous benchmarks:

  • 10X faster production-like testing – Client Delivery teams can now simulate 10 weeks of real production activity in a single weekend
  • Complete testing in just one hour, instead of days – The full client delivery testing cycle, including environment provisioning, functional tests, and upstream/downstream interface validation dropped from five days to just one hour, making it possible to run this full suite to customize each new customer configuration
  • 85% reduction in user story cycle time – Internal user story cycle for MX.3 platform development time dropped from 90 days to 15 days
  • Lower release cost for internal IS – The time to release for the internal test management system dropped from 37 man-days to two
  • Positive feedback from employees – 95 percent of those asked would not want to return to the old way of working (pre-SAFe)

Just as critical as the numbers, Murex’s people have embraced the mindset required to make the transformation.

“The most notable difference at Murex is a change in the way we plan and execute solution development. We do not commit to tasks—we commit to outcomes—and we let the teams decide how best to get there,” said Wissam Ghamroun, Head of EMEA Customer Delivery Services.

The company credits SAFe with helping it adopt best-practice engineering standards around test-driven development and CICD.

“Using SAFe to deploy agility at scale across our product factory has been fundamental to putting in place the mindset necessary for the transition to DevOps across our value chain,” Coyle said. “We still have further to go on this journey, but the benefits we see have proven that the SAFe framework was the right choice to accelerate our transformation.”

Back to: All Case Studies

Suggested Case Study: Westpac

Air France-KLM

Air France - Scaled Agile Practices with SAFe

“We wanted to experiment and demonstrate Agile principles and practices across domains. By empowering each business domain, acknowledging specific contexts in domains, fostering sharing, and ‘try and learn,’ SAFe has helped us get on the right track to success.”

Claire Charbit, Program Management NWOW Agile Adoption, Air France-KLM

Challenge:

Air France – KLM sought to scale Agile practices companywide to improve time to market and efficiency, but must contend with specific contexts and regulations in the different businesses of the airlines.

Industry:

Transportation, Aviation

Results:

  • SAFe teams released 17 times in the live environment in seven months compared to every six months previously
  • On average, SAFe teams release 20% more effectively than waterfall teams
  • The company gained 20% market share in the small and medium logistics market alone
  • On one offering, the company exceeded expectation by 25%
  • Air France – KLM is more intimate with its clients

Best Practices:

  • Focus on Transversal Topics for a sustainable adoption – “From day one, make them part of the adoption,” Moreau says. These topics affect all domains.
  • Let domains and teams define objectives – Teams are more committed and empowered if they set their own goals
  • Train continuously – The Core Team regularly holds Agile Booster workshops to help with specific adoption challenges such as how to deal with conflicting priorities from both airlines, and what does it mean to have an Agile mindset?

Introduction

One of Europe’s largest passenger airline groups, Air France – KLM operates up to 2,200 flights daily and carries over 93 million passengers annually. The company’s five airlines—Air France, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Transavia, HOP! Air France and Joon—cover 320 destinations across 114 countries.

Air France - Scaled Agile Practices with SAFe

In a highly competitive industry, where information systems can be strategic competitive assets, Air France – KLM set out to reduce its time-to-market with business applications. To do so, the company decided to improve the business/IT collaboration by breaking down silos and expanding Lean-Agile practices.

“Before, in moving from waterfall to Agile, we were not able to make the leap on a broader scale,” says Edwin Borst, Program Management NWOW #agile Adoption, Air France – KLM.

Achieving its goals would require bringing together diverse cultures at French and Dutch offices, as well as contending with diverse contexts, operational constraints or regulations across the different business domains.

An Agile Adoption Empowering Business Domains and Teams

After the successful launch of three ARTs in the Commercial Digital business domain in late summer 2016, the company decided to leverage this success and create a broader-scale adoption. Pieter Bootsma, Executive Vice-President Commercial Strategy at Air France – KLM, noted: “We can all benefit from Agile in the whole group and not only at Commercial Digital.”  So, in late 2016, the company chose to foster and accelerate the adoption and scaling of Agile practices.

Prior to launching the broad adoption, a small group of transformation leaders spent several months defining the scope of the deployment, the way the adoption would be conducted, and preparing for adoption on a larger scale. The leaders decided to adopt Lean-Agile principles and values in the way the program would be set up and run. The goal: demonstrate the mindset and practices, and see the benefits of this approach in a Change Management context.

Air France - Scaled Agile Practices with SAFe
  • Empower each business domain via its own self-organized, multidisciplinary, “Agile adoption team”
  • Deliver the change in short cycles, enabling experimentation and quick adaptation
  • Start small with minimum viable products (MVPs)
  • Share and learn from each others’ domains
  • Differentiate and adapt to each domain’s specifications and context

In late 2016, the company chose the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) to foster and accelerate the adoption and scaling of Agile practices across the various business domains.

“In order to manage our Agile adoption program across 11 business domains within Air France – KLM, we formed an Agile Release Plane (ARP, modified to fit the industry), inspired by SAFe,” says Didier Lavielle,  Program Management NWOW #agile Adoption, Air France – KLM. “SAFe gives us the framework we have been missing while at the same time empowering each business domain to define their own way to reach their goals.”

Each business domain (Commercial, Cargo, Flight and Ground Operations, Engineering & Maintenance, Finance, Human Resources) joined the ART with its own change team—named Agile Adoption Team—and self-organized as a product team. As a mix of IT and business, the Adoption Team defines the specific objectives, approach, and steps to take in its domain: people to train, Agile product teams to form, coaching needed, communication plan, monitoring progress, and more.

The company formed “Transversal Tracks,” (groups that tie into all business domains), which joined the ART: Human Resources (e.g. role description, training, and coaching), Finance and Portfolio Management (IT investment processes), Tooling and Capabilities, Communication, and “IT Readiness.” This setup brought value to the 11 domains by not having to reinvent the wheel and ensured consistency in harmonized solutions.

Air France – KLM engaged with BlinkLane Consulting for guidance and training. Around 150 team members in the Agile Adoption ART, from the various business domains and Transversal Track teams, attended Introduction to Agile training, with about 50% of them taking the Leading SAFe course.

Some of the Transversal tracks went through specially designed workshops regarding Lean Budgeting, Agile KPIs & Reporting, and Agile HR, for instance. Those supporting the various adoption teams either attended the SAFe Scrum Master training or were already certified SPCs. So far, more than 300 colleagues from the Adoption ART and from the regular ARTs have followed the Leading SAFe training.

Aligning the Stakeholders on a “Definition of Awesome”

Prior to kickoff, all business domains and Transversal Track groups aligned on a common definition of awesome with four themes:

Agile Enterprise – In the Air France – KLM enterprise, the autonomous, stable, and cross-functional teams are the cornerstones of the organization for driving innovation and continuous improvement. The Transversal processes support and stimulate an Agile way of working and mindset at all levels. This allows the company to focus on continuously maximizing quality and delivering value to the customer.

Value Creation – The Agile adoption aims to create more value—for customers and employees. Quality as well as effectiveness go up. The company succeeds by driving down the time-to-market, and increasing the Net Promotor Score.

Leadership – Air France – KLM develops servant leaders who empower Agile teams and value streams. They engender trust, work with a clear purpose, and provide direction to all levels of the Agile Enterprise. They are recognized for their Agile leadership, enabling others to succeed and drive the organization for continuous improvement. They focus on goals instead of tasks.

Employee Engagement – The organization is recognized as a best place to work. As a result, it attracts talented people. It works closely with customers. People feel responsible and autonomous for their products and results. Employee satisfaction is high and demonstrated by EPS (active promotors).

Big-Room Kickoff in Paris: PI Planning Event #1

Air France - Scaled Agile Practices with SAFe

The company officially kicked off the Air France – KLM New Ways of Working #agile ART at the first PI planning event in March 2017 in Paris. The Release Train Engineer (RTE), Odile Moreau from BlinkLane, was part of a small group of transformation leaders called The Core Team. The team, which includes three from Air France – KLM and three from BlinkLane, helps foster the adoption and structure; organize the program and its events; support the domains and the Transversal tracks; and monitor the progress and the results.

The five Transversal tracks, 11 business domain adoption teams, and the Core Team formed the ART, with 150 people. The company’s group CIO, Jean-Christophe Lalanne, and Commercial Strategy EVP, Pieter Bootsma, attended as executive sponsors and set the tone for the importance of the initiative.

At the first PI event, Air France – KLM introduced a logo created specifically for the program, which added strategic emphasis.

Team members from France and the Netherlands came together, bringing distinctive cultures and very diverse states of Agile: some were new to Agile principles and some brought several years of experience

“Although this approach and the PI Planning event was new for most people, everyone was really driven and motivated to share experiences, learn from each other, try and experiment, and work toward results,” Lavielle says.

Yet despite that excitement, many were hesitant to break out of their own groups and talk with those they had never met. Thus transformation leaders requested that anyone adding yarn to the program board—indicating dependencies—discuss it directly with the individuals involved.

As the first PI progressed, teams achieved about 60 percent of their stated objectives, on average. In leading up to the second PI, they applied the lessons learned and set more accurate, quantifiable objectives.

At the start of the second PI, Air France – KLM began a new practice of having each business domain and Transversal Track share its business results with the entire group as a PI begins. At the same time, this served as an opportunity to Inspect and Adapt what worked and what didn’t.

By the third PI, in the fall of 2017, Air France – KLM had grown to 208 product teams and eight ARTs across Commercial Digital, Cargo, Commercial, and AF Flight Ops. The KLM HR division and the AF Ground Services have both organized Value Stream workshops to either launch new trains or reorganize their current Agile teams into an ART. The same applies to Digital Commercial. Following on the continuous Inspect & Adapt, Commercial Digital will also reorganize its current ARPs to allow for more alignment on the business objectives and improve its delivery model.

Lessons Learned and Best Practices

Along the way, they learned a number of lessons to improve their efforts going forward:

  • Have an approach for dealing with the diversity across domains, both in their Agile maturity and in their specific context and constraints (operational, security, and regulations)
  • Establish strong ownership in each business domain via an individual adoption team
  • Since most of the dependencies lie between Transversal Tracks (HR or Finance impediments) and business domains, co-create solutions for Transversal topics that facilitate exchanges and encourage learning from each other
  • Actively address the challenge of changing the managerial mindset and leadership styles
  • Understand that setting realistic goals for the next 15 weeks will be difficult for most, as is learning to set smaller, more realistic goals
  • Encourage individuals to ask for help from someone in a Transversal Track or the Core Team
  • Ensure that the team members who are not 100% dedicated and co-located commit to objectives and organize in a way to still be able to work together and produce results
  • Ask for regular feedback to respond to uncertainties and come up with valuable results
  • Leave personal egos at the door and achieve common objectives

Investing in Role-Based Training

Air France - Scaled Agile Practices with SAFe

Where it can, the company trains with the SAFe curriculum. All RTEs go through SAFe Release Train Engineer training. Scrum Masters with the PSM certification are offered the SAFe for Scrum Master training and certification when joining an ARP. The same applies for Product Owner. Team members also attend SAFe for Teams when they join an ARP. Additionally, the company developed training and workshops for Lean Budgeting, using the Weighted Shortest Job First, and other practical guidelines.

A community of 40 coaches support the effort at various levels: teams, domain, adoption, and enterprise. This community is growing in maturity and results. In the third PI, the company will focus on internalization and growth of the coaches, ensuring a more sustainable and economical support for the Agile community.

Results: 20% More Effective Delivery

Since deploying SAFe, Air France – KLM notes greater collaboration between business domains and Transversal Tracks. Within three months, their efforts began paying off in business results in the Cargo group:

Time-to-market – Each ART team delivers on its promises every three weeks. Since moving to SAFe, the company released 17 times in the live environment in seven months compared to every six months previously.

Quality – Of the 17 releases, the company had to delay just one due to a major incident

Productivity – SAFe teams deliver, on average, more than 20% more effectively than waterfall teams

Adaptability – With a PI cycle of 12 weeks, Air France – KLM has been able to pivot its vision three times in the past year, allowing the company to tap into new business opportunities much more quickly and easily

Market share – The company gained 20% market share in the small and medium logistics market alone with this flexibility

Predictability – The velocity of ARTs builds in more predictability and enables teams to take ownership and show greater craftsmanship. Team stability is also an important success factor in results

Business value – On one offering, the company exceeded expectation by 25%

Employee satisfaction – PI Planning results in better transparency and autonomy for the teams. Seeing the vision in the Cargo group encourages team members to contribute to the business value and increases their work satisfaction, as well as collaboration between business and IT

Customer satisfaction – Air France – KLM is more intimate with its clients. All Product Owners from the business side have a greater understanding of the demand. Going live with small changes and new functionality every three weeks gives them a faster feedback loop and more rapid pivoting, enabling groups to deliver greater value in its IT solutions

Air France - Scaled Agile Practices with SAFe

Air France – KLM looks forward to seeing ever-greater progress as it moves toward DevOps, allowing the ARTs to deliver end-to-end with an integrated team.

“We have started experimenting more with weighted shortest job first (WSJF) in our priority at the Features level,” Moreau says. “We also want to harness the work with Portfolio Management and Lean budgeting.”

Back to: All Case Studies

Suggested Case Study:

Deutsche Bhan

Fannie Mae – SAFe for Mortgage Financing

“SAFe provided the agility, visibility, and transparency needed to ensure we could integrate with numerous other efforts, get predictable in our delivery, and ensure timelines are met.”

David McMunn, Director of Fannie Mae’s Agile COE

Challenge:

Within three years, the organization would need to stand-up an entirely new business model that would change the way securities are issued to the market—and do so within aggressive timelines.

Industry:

Financial Services, Government

Results:

  • Releases now happen every month, instead of once or twice a year.
  • They integrate reliably every two weeks.
  • Fannie Mae reduced delivery risks.
  • The organization reduced the defect rate substantially.
  • Teams now deliver more than 30 attributes per sprint compared to 2-5 before.
  • Velocity increased from 10 story points to more than 30.

Best Practices:

  • Sync cadence – Establishing a common cadence was critical to success. Engineering practices must evolve in order to comply with bi­modal governance.
  • Work on database modeling upfront – For any data-heavy effort, perform advance work on database modeling to avoid the impact of changes identified later in the sprint.
  • Develop a playbook – Such guidance reduces rework for multiple teams working in parallel.

Introduction

Fannie Mae is the leading provider of mortgage financing in the United States. Operating under a congressional charter, Fannie Mae—and its sibling organization Freddie Mac—play an important role in the nation’s housing finance system; they provide liquidity, stability, and affordability to the mortgage market.

Coming out of the housing crisis in 2013, Fannie Mae recognized that the lending environment it was moving into required it to be even more responsive to meet rapidly changing customer needs. Further, Fannie Mae recognized that agility was critical to achieving this objective—not just in technology, but across the organization.

In January 2015, Fannie Mae was preparing to align with guidance provided by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and Congress, under a new joint venture named Common Securitization Solutions (CSS). As part of this effort, Fannie Mae undertook an initiative to transform some of their key internal business processes to align with CSS to build a universal securitization platform for the issuance and management of mortgage-backed securities.

SAFe for Mortgage Financing

Within three years, Fannie Mae planned to develop an entirely new business model that would change the way securities are issued to the market—and do so within aggressive timelines. More than 20 development teams, encompassing over 300 individuals, were needed to integrate development and testing efforts across 30 assets. As Fannie Mae prepared to implement this change, the organization encountered several challenges as the new model was being defined based on continuously evolving requirements.

“When you’re doing a large-scale integration with a lot of data, the number-one factor for success is early integration and early testing,” says Atif Salam, Director of Enterprise Data at Fannie Mae. “The federal mandate required us to mitigate risk from the get-go, and we realized early on it would not be possible following a waterfall approach. There was no better way for us to mitigate that risk than to adopt Agile.”

Overcoming Initial Roadblocks

Enterprise Data’s efforts to adopt Agile uncovered several challenges, both internal and external:

Challenge #1: No Agile capability evident for the initial two teams at the outset of the Enterprise Data initiative.

The first Enterprise Data teams were brand new to Agile, the Scrum methodology and, having been formed specifically for this initiative, working with each other.

Prior to adopting SAFe, Enterprise Data developed a standard on-boarding approach and entrance criteria for standing up new teams. Additionally, external Agile subject matter expertise was brought in to train and work with the teams, and an Agile Mature Model (AMM) was created to baseline behaviors and practices, as well as identify areas for optimization.

Thereafter, once the decision had been made to adopt SAFe, the program began to work through the SAFe Readiness Checklist. The AMM was used to set target benchmarks that all program teams were required to meet in order to ensure there was sufficient capability in place from which to scale.

SAFe for Mortgage Financing

Challenge #2: At the outset of the Enterprise Data initiative, a Scrum team could only complete a single user story due to inflexible architecture, end-to-end testing challenges, and numerous build constraints. Further, it was typical for the work to be gated by subject matter expertise between developers who viewed data attributes as a data point, comprised of both sourcing and vending complexities, that could only be implemented sequentially.

In response, technical leads focused on eliminating constraints, reducing complexity, and optimizing workflow. Specifically, Technical Leads worked with the teams to leverage cross-functional team/paired programming constructs to augment technical expertise. As a result, the teams began to view data attributes not as a data point, comprised of both sourcing and vending complexities, but rather as having two distinct pieces of business value, specifically sourcing and vending.

Additionally, they made the effort to move system integration testing (SIT), as well as user acceptance testing (UAT), left into the Scrum team. As a result, and over time, each team began to complete multiple user stories within a given sprint. Additionally, the organization adopted an emergent design mindset, formed cross-functional Agile feature teams, and aligned to a common cadence that synchronized their activities (e.g. sprint planning, Scrum-of-Scrums, sprint reviews).

Challenge #3: At the outset of Enterprise Data’s journey, complexity was further complicated by the fact that teams were required to develop and integrate their code in the same mainline, thereby replacing branching as an accepted technical practice. Additionally, Fannie Mae required new release traceability management that would satisfy corporate and federal governance requirements.

To address these challenges, technical leads and shared services focused on building a continuous integration capability, across all teams, using the same codebase. The organization had always had application lifecycle management (ALM), however, it needed to re­think continuous integration to realize true efficiencies. Over the course of 10 months, the organization focused on leveraging automation to reduce the time to implement builds from once every six months to multiple times a day.

Additionally, Enterprise Data adopted behavior-driven development engineering practices for traceability, automated testing, and prototyping.

SAFe for Mortgage Financing

Challenge #4: Upstream technical dependencies specific to architecture, database design/modeling, and test data provisioning prevented the teams from completing a single user story within the two-week sprint cadence.

In addition to the technical challenges the teams were facing, there were also multiple upstream dependencies on architecture, data modeling, and test data management that they had to resolve before a User Story could be implemented by a team working in a two-week cadence.

Initially, working ahead of the teams, a group of business analysts were assembled and assigned to groom the program backlog sufficiently so that User Stories met, or exceeded, 80% of the sprint team’s Definition of Ready. Despite this focus, however, there was barely enough ready work in the program backlog for the teams to bring into their respective sprint planning. This was due to the lead times required to resolve upstream dependencies as well as the need to respond to continually changing requirements.

In preparation for scaling, Enterprise Data worked with their business stakeholders to create a roadmap of features spanning one business quarter. Simultaneously, they focused on optimizing backlog health, sufficient in depth to support the Agile teams, for at least two consecutive sprints. Additionally, adopting a system perspective, the entire value stream was analyzed to better anticipate, and mitigate for, internal/external technical dependencies.

Challenge #5: The organization’s culture was accustomed to working within a traditional implementation methodology.

At the outset, Fannie Mae had a traditional command and control culture, supported by a broader ecosystem of corporate functions that had to change to support Agile. Those leading the change made a significant effort to work with leadership and management to pivot from the traditional role of directing delivery to becoming Lean-Agile leaders and critical change agents, both supporting the teams as well as modeling the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto.

As already noted, leadership and management changed their focus to clearing impediments impacting the teams. Additionally, they influenced corporate functions to align in support of Agile, get the business integrated and involved, as well as to put the pieces in place to create an environment focused on continuous learning. “Historically we would have seen challenges as failures in requirements or development rather than opportunities to fail fast and learn, and improve,” Salam explains.

While still new to their roles, the Lean-Agile leaders infused a sense of purpose in the teams and gave them autonomy to implement the work while decentralizing decision-making and minimizing constraints.

SAFe: Agility. Visibility. Transparency.

Although Fannie Mae had pockets of Agile capability up to this point, leadership understood that a scaled Agile methodology was required to achieve their objectives. Fortunately, individuals within the company had prior success with large-scale Agile deployments using the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®).

Fannie Mae teamed up with an external Scaled Agile Gold partner to develop and mature its Scrum capability and then deploy SAFe. As the first to make the transition, the Enterprise Data division became the torch bearer.

“We had multiple waterfall efforts, third-party integration, and a hard regulatory mandate that made coordination and execution exceptionally difficult,” explains David McMunn, the Director of Fannie Mae’s Agile Center of Excellence (COE). “SAFe provided the agility, visibility, and transparency needed to ensure we could integrate with the numerous other efforts, get predictable in our delivery, and ensure timelines are met.”

Fannie Mae applied a dogmatic approach to ensure the organization was developing a consistent set of practices across multiple teams at the outset. External coaches delivered Agile, Scrum Master, Product Owner, Leading SAFe (SA), and SAFe for Teams (SP) training. The SAFe training was then mandatory for every new team joining the effort.

Fannie Mae launched its first Agile Release Train (ART) encompassing six programs, across 12 teams, with more than 130 people, in June of 2015. Admittedly, that first Program Increment (PI) offered some learning experiences.

“In spite of all the preparation that went into the backlog, setting expectations, confirming attendance from stakeholders, and the training prior to planning, the first PI was somewhat of a chaotic experience,” says Scott Richardson, Chief Data Officer at Fannie Mae.

Context setting provided by the business, product, and architecture leads took time away from team break-out sessions and, as a result, the teams struggled to resolve all of the open requirements and scope questions to complete their plans.

“But by the end of the second day,” Richardson continues, “we started to see progress.” The teams had mapped out their dependencies on the program board, resolved, owned, accepted, or mitigated (ROAM) all of the known risks in the PI and achieved a Fist of Five confidence score of 3.

“The session offered the very first opportunity for all stakeholders to work together on this multi-million dollar program.” Richardson adds. “A new way of managing large-scale integration efforts at Fannie Mae was emerging that would spread across the technology enterprise.”

Over the next few PIs, the organization knew more clearly how to prepare for the PI planning meeting and confidence scores began averaging 4 and higher.

Modeling Confidence in the New Methodology

SAFe for Mortgage Financing

During cross-team planning in an early PI, it became clear that several teams were not on track to deliver important capabilities within the targeted timeline. “Some of my best new Agile team leaders offered to throw more people at the problem ‘just this once,’ and crash the schedule like they did in the old days,” Richardson says. “It’s in those moments that you need to model confidence in the Agile method, to be the calm in the eye of the storm.”
Instead, the Agile team leaders were encouraged to go back to the Product Owners regarding the change in priorities and empower them to devise a new minimum viable product. “Within a couple of hours, everything was back on track with planning, and ultimately all the teams delivered, and the external customer delivery was on-time,” Richardson says. “Now they carry this story with them, and are empowered to solve problems and make decisions in truly productive ways. It’s part of the culture.”

Gains across the Board

Today, Fannie Mae has come a long way. The Enterprise Data division delivered an integrated solution on time and with much higher quality than was expected for an effort of this size. From a broader perspective, the transformation to SAFe revolutionized how the organization plans for the delivery of large-scale programs.

Fannie Mae has seen improvements on multiple fronts:

  • Reduced risk – Fannie Mae reduced delivery risks through the relentless focus on innovation and automation to ship “production ready” code with higher and higher frequency. They significantly mitigated the risk inherent in complex integration between legacy and new architectures/applications, as well as between internal and external systems.
  • Faster feedback cycles – Enterprise Data delivers system demos and integrated code every two weeks. Releases now happen every month, instead of once or twice a year, for the largest application across the enterprise, with millions of lines of code.
  • Improved predictability – Teams, within the program and across the enterprise, integrate reliably every two weeks.
  • Boosted quality – The organization reduced the defect rate substantially.
  • Increased business value – Teams now deliver more than 30 attributes per sprint compared to 2-5 attributes when Agile was first adopted within Enterprise Data.
  • Better team progress – Teams undergo regular AHR (Agility Health Reviews) cycles and have matured to higher Agile Maturity Model levels.
  • Greater efficiency – Fannie Mae realizes significant efficiency through a reduction in technical debt.

After the initial deployment, the division rolled out SAFe to the rest of the organization, training up to 600 people on Leading SAFe, SAFe Advanced Scrum Master, SAFe Scrum Master, SAFe Product Manager/Product Owner, and SAFe for Teams, depending on roles. Several employees went on to achieve their SPC certification.

Currently, Fannie Mae runs three ARTs. The Enterprise Data ART recently completed its 13th PI. Additionally, there are more than 200 Lean-Agile teams across Enterprise IT, encompassing over 3,000 people. Functional and business portfolios are adopting lightweight Lean-Agile values and practices as part of their day-to-day activities.

“This way of working has spread across the organization,” Salam says. “It’s changing the way we deliver for the customer, the way we hire and do our budgeting, and is continuously extending further and further into the business.”

Back to: All Case Studies

Suggested Case Study:

Dutch Tax and Customs Administration

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”.

Back to: All Case Studies

Suggested Case Study:

Air France- KLM

NHS Blood and Transplant – Adopting SAFe in Healthcare

NHS Blood and Transplant – Adopting SAFe in Healthcare

“Adopting SAFe has set in motion the skill development and mindset for successful organizational change even as we scale to new programs, release trains, and people.”

Gary Dawson, Assistant Director, Solutions Delivery

Challenge:

NHSBT sought to improve the business processes and the supporting IT environment in two major programs, and do so without adversely impacting its core business or service delivery to patients.

Industry:

Government, Healthcare

Solution:

SAFe®, Consulting and Coaching Service

Results:

In the first PI, NHSBT was able to deliver a committed, finite number of product features, as well as prioritize IT operations alongside the business part of the organization.

Best Practices:

  • Include all in the journey — The mutual understanding between IJI, managers and employee teams was critical. “It made the difference that we were bringing them on the journey—rather than telling them how we were going to impose something on them. It has been a key element in NHSBT’s success,” Dawson says.
  • Show and tell — “Show and tell” sessions (every two weeks) and then a mid-PI retrospective helped the business see the benefits of the change process and really feel part of it.

The partner that made it happen:

Introduction

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority that provides a blood and transplant service to the National Health Service—supplying blood to hospitals in England, and tissues and solid organs to hospitals across the United Kingdom. Each year, donors give approximately two million donations of blood and 3,500 organs—saving and transforming countless lives.

Safeguarding the blood supply and increasing the number of donated organs involves collecting, testing, processing, storing, and delivering blood, plasma, and tissue to every NHS Trust in England. NHSBT also matches, allocates, audits, and analyzes organ donations across the whole of the UK.

With an increased need for its services, the organization recognized that effective technology is crucial to the delivery of safe products and services for patients. While looking ahead to its corporate 2020 vision, NHSBT identified several goals: replace an aging IT infrastructure, migrate to SaaS cloud-based services, and replace the critical operational applications underpinning its activities while ensuring they remain compliant with external regulatory monitoring.

NHSBT sought to revolutionize the way it interacts with blood donors by taking full advantage of the opportunities afforded by digital technologies. That means careful consideration of the realities of existing interdependencies between the national databases and NHSBT services, systems, data, processes, and people.

Adopting SAFe in Healthcare

NHSBT identified the need to improve the business processes and the supporting IT environment in two major programs: ODT Hub and Core Systems Modernization.

“NHSBT was embarking on its most complex transformation program ever, initially focusing on the Organ Donation and Transplantation (ODT) area of its business,” notes Gary Dawson, Assistant Director, Solutions Delivery. “It needed to modernize a significant percentage of its core systems, platforms, and architecture along with re-aligning the infrastructure to more modern cloud-based technologies. The impact on the current business and practices couldn’t be underestimated across the organization—we were anticipating changes in how we work and how the system worked.”

It’s All About the People

NHSBT employees truly care about the organization and its work. Dawson, working with the wider NHSBT ICT organization, felt that it was important to correctly evaluate IT needs in line with organizational changes and be able to guide the system changes with the people using them.

“We recognized that both the overarching change and the adoption of a new technical platform and architecture—the effects on the culture of the organization—could, if not managed strategically, create a complex management problem and have an impact not only on the core business, but also the working relationships of the people within NHSBT,” Dawson says. “We needed a system and guidance to adapt and benefit from the changes and we were clear that the waterfall methodology that we had previously relied on wouldn’t support this change. We have dedicated and passionate people who work here, who really care about the cause and want to achieve the goals of the organization, but this change would only work if everyone was on the same page and we could go through the journey together.”

A New Approach to Adopt Change

The Chief Digital Officer had set the strategy for implementing Agile into NHSBT and brought on Dawson specifically with this in mind. From day one he worked extensively and closely with the Business, IT, and Program Delivery stakeholders to ensure cross-organizational support. After an initial meeting, they knew that an experienced consultancy like Ivar Jacobson International (IJI) would aim to understand NHSBT and work collaboratively to deliver solutions and training so that internal changes were manageable.

IJI suggested NHSBT use Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) to help support the governance and manage both the organizational and technical changes. The ICT Leadership Team immediately took the view that this was the right methodology to achieve NHSBT’s goals and looked for an appropriate vehicle in which to introduce it. They decided the Organ Donation and Transplant (ODT) Hub Program as the most appropriate place to start implementation. ODT was initializing a hands-on software delivery and its timeline aligned well with the cadence of delivery that the framework provided. In addition, funding was in place and all the teams involved were based in one location. It would act as an ideal start and pilot for other elements of the organization to observe.

Adopting SAFe in Healthcare

Because ODT was the first in a series of transformational changes, it would also be the model that other parts of the organization would take as an example, so it was crucial to get it right from the start. “IJI’s expertise with Agile transformation programs was a perfect fit with what we were aiming to do. Because we’d be working with new team groupings, we wanted to assist employees with transitioning to new working relationships and processes and also address the naturally risk-averse elements,” Dawson says. “We had to stay within regulatory standards. Rapid and vast change, if not done properly, has the potential to be disruptive, and actually hinder advancement. We chose Ivar Jacobsen International to provide company guidance, including coaching and training services, for the implementation of SAFe at NHSBT.”

A Proven Framework in SAFe®

SAFe offers a broad range of content and phased implementation for organizations looking to increase productivity, change system structures, increase employee training, add solutions-based management and develop greater efficiencies across company platforms and people.

Because proper preparation is critical to set the stage for smooth adoption, IJI delivered a two-day workshop, ‘Leading SAFe,’ that engaged managers interactively while explaining what SAFe was and how to implement it properly.

Meanwhile, Dawson and IJI also began to structure team units. They identified product managers and product owners working collaboratively to define their roles within SAFe and guided them on SAFe practices. Training roll-outs started with 10 or 12 courses, ranging from large-room sessions of 30-40 people for SAFe overviews and discussions of how it could work within NHSBT. These were followed over a two-month period by smaller and more interactively focused sessions for product managers and owners intended to further guide them and increase engagement. Sessions included six to 10 people with the appropriate attendees to maximize the interaction and cross-functional engagement—even at the point of training.

Meanwhile, program managers, with Dawson, started to work on organizational components, such as planning sessions across the organization (75 – 80 people). Planning included who would be involved, as well as logistical challenges. Dawson spent considerable time explaining the rollout and SAFe implementation to all levels of employees to facilitate understanding and new team groupings. IJI was on hand at all stages of implementation to guide, coach, teach, and assist teams to transition to SAFe, following a strategic Program Increment (PI) cycle that ensured SAFe was adopted by employees with secure checkpoints and feedback along the way.

Building Success

Adopting SAFe in Healthcare

Over the first Program Increment (PI), NHSBT’s ODT program came through on most of its deliverables. “It was amazing how much we were able to do in such a short time,” Dawson notes. “Now that we’ve done that, we can see what we need to do for future PIs and are continually able to refine and understand the teams’ velocity; it’s all falling into place and people really are committed.”

In that first PI, they were able to develop and learn to work effectively as a team and were able to deliver a committed, finite number of product features, as well as prioritize IT operations alongside the business element of the organization.

During the short introduction phase of three to four months, they were able to not only onboard and train all the teams aligned to the Release Train, they were also able to get the business component of NHSBT aligned with IT. There were challenges—such as integrating business managers into the teams and defining product owners—but “show and tell” sessions (every two weeks) and then a mid-PI retrospective helped the business see the benefits of the change process and really feel part of it.

“We would never have had that level of interaction in a waterfall delivery,” Dawson says. “To achieve the levels of understanding of both the technology and deliverables—along with all the interdependencies—would have taken months of calls, meetings, and discussions. We planned the next three months in just two days and now we retain that level of engagement on a daily basis.”

SAFe has become part of everyday procedures at NHSBT, with a series of checkpoints and loops that ensure communication is clear and efficient between teams and individuals. IJI understood that it was important to Dawson and NHSBT that change occurs but not at the cost of quality or control, and that value to the business should be equal to the ability of the organization to cope with the rate of change. NHSBT was able to build Agile confidence across the ODT program—senior stakeholders could support the cultural change because SAFe provides the governance required to build in the needs of Quality Assurance and regulators.

Successfully Scaling to New Programs

Having delivered the first MVP (Minimum Viable Product) of the ODT Program, it is clear that the introduction and embedding of SAFe within NHSBT has begun to provide early delivery of significant business benefits.

NHSBT has now run two SAFe big-room planning events for its Core Systems Modernization (CSM) Program, which is potentially a much larger program to replace its core blood offering system relating to blood, blood-derived products and tissues.

“We’re definitely not standing still,” Dawson says. “We are building momentum and will continue to run with the same rhythm that SAFe has provided us with our ODT program. Adopting SAFe has set in motion the skill development and mindset for successful organizational change even as we scale to new programs, release trains, and people.”

Back to: All Case Studies

Suggested Case Study: Royal Philips

AstraZeneca – SAFe for Agile Adoption

AstraZeneca - SAFe for Agile Adoption

“We’re delivering faster with greater quality and less manpower—resulting in substantial financial benefits from the teams that have adopted Agile to date. We expect to double our adoption of Agile this year.”

Patty Sheehan, AZ Agile Cultural Change Lead and Coach

Challenge:

Scale Agile practices across a large global change portfolio

Industry:

Pharmaceutical

Results:

  • Substantial financial benefits delivered in the first year
  • Significantly faster time-to-value delivery
  • Reduced team sizes
  • Improved quality of outputs over previous solutions

Best Practices:

  • Address culture change – AZ focused on the culture shift required to support Agile by creating Culture Leaders.
  • Align governance and procurement – AZ aligned funding and governance approval with Agile ways of working, enabling teams to make progress quickly and benefit from Agile delivery.
  • Consider face-to-face ARTs – AZ required face-to-face planning at the launch of a new Agile Release Train (ART).
  • Stay organized – AZ used task tracking and collaboration tools extensively.

Introduction

AstraZeneca (AZ) is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical business employing 61,500 employees worldwide. Millions of patients around the globe use its innovative medicines. AZ activities span the entire life cycle of a medicine, from research and development to manufacturing and supply to the global sales and marketing of primary care and speciality care medicines that transform lives.

SAFe for Agile Adoption

AZ teams are pushing the boundaries of science to make a difference through medicine for patients, their families, our stakeholders, and society in general. AZ believes that scientific research and applying leading technology are key to achieving cutting-edge innovation and at the heart of what we do.

In AZ, IT is helping to push the boundaries of science to deliver life-changing medicines by continuously improving the IT environment and working with business teams to innovate for competitive advantage.

Enterprise-wide Alignment with Agile

AZ has made use of Agile practices for a number of years at small scale, but up to 2014 had continued to deliver the majority of its programs using traditional approaches. A decision was taken to adopt Agile methods more broadly across its IT change portfolio in order to bring about a step change in delivery performance. PA Consulting was selected by AZ to support this transformation effort, providing organizational change management expertise, Agile transformation strategy, training and coaching. AstraZeneca and PA Consulting selected the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) in late 2014 as the framework to be applied to support the adoption of Agile.

“We needed the ability to scale Agile quickly because we run large, complex programs at AstraZeneca,” says Patty Sheehan, AZ Agile Cultural Change Lead and Coach. “SAFe is a flexible yet robust framework that has already been proven successful. It has been the right fit for us.”

The SAFe Agile adoption approach focused on organization and culture change, supporting Agile teams directly and ensuring that processes such as procurement and regulatory approval were aligned with Agile. The Agile adoption has so far been extremely successful with teams reporting significantly faster time to value delivery (40-60%), reduced team sizes (cost reduction of 25-40%) and improved quality. Financially, we rigorously monetized a large proportion of benefits from just a small subset of teams.

The AZ team, supported by PA Consulting, rolled out SAFe in the first year to tackle the larger scale programs in its portfolio, focusing on three key areas:

  • Organization and culture change:
    The transition to Agile ways of working can be a substantial break with traditional corporate culture. AZ defined five key organizational values: customer focus, technical leadership, operational excellence, collaboration and simplicity. By becoming Agile, AZ people would not only know these values but practice them in a methodical way.AZ tied this message into an Agile vision statement and marketing, making the change feel more personal and organic. The culture change approach included creating an extensive network of Agile Culture Leaders across the organization, focused on executive-level buy-in. The company also dedicated additional time at the end of each SAFe training course to the discussion and diagnosis of immediate actions to change culture.
SAFe for Agile Adoption
Figure 1 – The different layers of the AZ Agile change network, from practitioners at the center, supported by the Agile COE, Agile Culture Leaders and Leadership.
  • Alignment of governance, procurement and regulatory processes with SAFe:
    AZ replaced its traditional project governance framework with a new Adaptive Delivery Framework that was easy to use, lightweight, and crucially, supported both Scrum and Scaled Agile approaches out of the box. With this change, funding and governance approval were aligned with Agile ways of working, enabling teams to make progress quickly and benefit from Agile delivery. As a regulated pharmaceutical organization, AZ also has many regulatory obligations on its systems and processes. Defining an approach with the internal Quality Management group was a key success criteria, allowing the AZ Agile teams to deliver validated software solutions that supported regulatory requirements.
SAFe for Agile Adoption
Figure 2 – AstraZeneca’s Adaptive Delivery Framework, showing the lightweight governance that is applied to Scrum and Scaled Agile teams.
  • Outsourced and offshore teams:
    AZ teams are typically made up of a number of different third-party suppliers working in collaboration with AZ from a variety of sites around the world. We overcame the challenges inherent in this arrangement, building on key elements of SAFe to support this way of working. The PI Planning event was crucial to the alignment and co-ordination of large, off-shore teams. These events were carried out using a mixture of on-site and video conferencing facilities, with a requirement for face-to-face planning at the launch of a new ART. Similarly, iteration alignment and system demos helped the teams to maintain visible synchronization throughout increments. The Legal and Procurement teams at AZ are revising the contractual arrangements and procurement processes to align with SAFe. Task tracking and collaboration tools were used extensively. Following the success of the Agile adoption in the first year, AstraZeneca is now creating a number of internal ARTs to deliver change, again utilizing a multi-site model.

Value Delivered in Year One

AstraZeneca is 18 months into a multi-year transition to Agile ways of working, but with the adoption of the Scaled Agile Framework and the support of PA Consulting, a substantial transformation has already occurred. Twenty large teams have adopted Agile, and over 1000 staff have been trained and supported through a robust coaching regime. More importantly, Agile maturity has increased rapidly over the year with strong adoption in each area of the business. The teams adopting SAFe have observed significantly increased time to value delivery with improved quality of the outputs over previous solutions. This has been achieved more efficiently with reduced team sizes

“We’re delivering faster with greater quality and less manpower—resulting in substantial financial benefits from the teams that have adopted Agile to date,” Sheehan says. “We expect to double our adoption of Agile this year.”

Back to: All Case Studies

Suggested Case Study: Royal Philips