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.”

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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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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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NAPA Group – Benefits of Using SAFe and Scrum

NAPA Group is a leading software house providing solutions for ship design and operation with the mission to improve safety and eco-efficiency of the global maritime industry. Headquartered in Finland, NAPA and NAPA for Operations (Onboard-NAPA) have established themselves as the de facto standard for ship design. They are used by shipyards, owners, designers, classification societies, research institutes, authorities, consultancies and universities around the world.

Industry:

Software, Maritime

The partner that made it happen:

Overview

NAPA Group - Benefits of Using SAFe and Scrum

In 2012, with nearly 400 user organizations for design application and 2,000 installations onboard, they found themselves suffering from growth pains stemming from major annual releases, a large volume of projects, variable scope and schedules, and lack of a framework of best practices needed to support their fast-paced expansion and development. In other words, release schedules were slipping, and it was becoming difficult to get software out.

“95% of ships built annually are designed by our customers using NAPA.”

With guidance provided by Scaled Agile Gold Partner, Nitor Delta, NAPA embarked upon a 2-year journey of dramatic organizational change that included a combination of Scrum integrated with a full SAFe implementation that ultimately led to their first Release Planning event in 2014.

The results from their 2-year journey are impressive:

• Transparency increased on all levels
• Delivery cycle time down from >12 months to 3 months
• Increased predictability (2014 92% successful releases)
• Need for patches decreased
• Less defects in main branch
• Good basis for further growth

The NAPA experience is a classic example of how the principles of SAFe and Scrum can work in harmony for successful business agility to produce measurable business results. They have demonstrated that the strategic planning enabled by the Portfolio level in SAFe in no way diminishes the value of Scrum, but in fact, illustrates the complementary aspects of both practices.

Many thanks to Toivo Vaje, SA, of NAPA Group for sharing your Lean-Agile experience, and to Maarit Laanti of Nitor Delta for your role in this successful SAFe implementation.

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