TV Globo – Agility Is Transforming the Largest Media Company

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Luciana Povoa, Head of Content Production Solutions /Globo

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TV Globo Turned to SAFe

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To accelerate their digital transformation and remain competitive in a fast-changing market, Brazil’s largest TV network turned to SAFe. With 12,000 employees serving 100 million viewers in 130 countries, the media giant offers a full lineup of content: news, sports, entertainment, soap operas, reality shows, and more.

As they worked to overcome a complex software legacy, speed up innovation, and create new ways of working, the challenge has been enormous, but the effort has paid off. Today, TV Globo has established a common way of working for the business and technology areas that embraces a value-driven approach and empowers and engages teams around a common purpose. This has enabled the organization to integrate a portfolio view into decisions for evaluating competing initiatives and aligning them with enterprise priorities.

The results have been dramatic:

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

View the video for the full story and and see how deeply engaged TV Globo’s employees are in this company-wide transformation. It is narrated in Portuguese with English translations.

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PlayStation Network -SAFe: Enabling Value Delivery

SAFe: Enabling Value Delivery

“I personally believe we have delivered more in the two years we’ve been using SAFe than we did in the four years prior-not in raw code, but in value. Our downtime went down and that saved the company about 30 million over the course of the year. That’s real money and a really positive outcome.”

Tripp Meister, Director of Technology, PlayStation Network

Challenge:

Co-located teams across eight different cities found Waterfall and Agile Scrum fell short in bringing together members cohesively.

Industry:

Media and Entertainment, Consumer Products

Solution:

SAFe®

Results:

  • Delivered double the value compared to before practicing SAFe
  • Cut initial planning time by 28 percent
  • 700 team members across 60 Scrum teams actively using SAFe
  • In two years, launched six trains globally, shipped more than 350 production releases, completed 22 PSIs, over 125 sprints and 250 features

Best Practices:

  • Work toward a common theme—”We base our milestones on an objective set that goes across all thousand people doing this, giving them a common theme to work toward,” Meister says.
  • Decentralize decision-making—Empower individuals to negotiate decisions together, at all levels.
  • Gain full buy-in—”SAFe worked because everyone bought into it, top to bottom,” Meister says.

Introduction

Since 1994, millions around the world have chosen to game with PlayStation. Today, the gaming console made by Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) continues to lead with more than 150 million users globally. And most recently, it took the top spot among competing consoles in holiday sales.

SAFe: Enabling Value Delivery

PlayStation customers eagerly await new releases. Delivering a quality product on time requires tight collaboration across more than 1,000 SIE engineering team members. Co-located teams reside in eight different cities.

In meeting its targets, the SIE engineering organization found Waterfall and Agile Scrum fell short in bringing together hundreds of team members cohesively. These approaches failed to address the many dependencies across the organization and resulted in less than desirable business results. What’s more, disparate teams were able to plan only one or two iterations in advance.

“It can take 700 people to make one screen available,” explains Tripp Meister, Director Technology, PlayStation Network. “Coordinating this work and having it well organized so the company can release new features and updates is critical to success. If we just follow processes like Scrum and Agile, things can fall through the cracks, especially with the highly connected systems we build at PlayStation.”

SAFe®: Enabling Value Delivery

In early 2014, SIE leadership chose to deploy the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) to bring greater organization and collaboration to development.

“SAFe gives us top-down prioritization based on senior management direction, pulls disparate groups together into common timeframes, and enables us to manage dependencies much better,” Meister says.

SIE engaged a SAFe coach and began with the 2-day Leading SAFe® training for managers. By February of 2014, the company launched its first Agile Release Train (ART), and then followed that with ART launches every 12 weeks.

For every launch, team members come together in person. “Every 12 weeks, about 500 people coalesce in San Diego,” Meister says. “While it’s not cheap to bring everyone together, it’s what allows us to deliver value because you walk out of there and know you can get your work done. For 12 weeks, you are unimpeded.”

Prior to adopting SAFe, cadence varied across groups. Some iterated daily, while others did so weekly or bi-monthly. Now, SIE consistently adheres to a cadence of two weeks with 12-week iterations or PSIs, potentially shippable increments (identified now as Program Increments (PIs) in SAFe 4.0). They run six or seven iterations at a time, which comprise a major release.

SIE program managers serve as Release Train Engineers (RTE), which Meister refers to as the “ringmasters.” They oversee designers, user experience developers, systems architects, systems engineers, and product managers in executing on work in manageable increments and in adhering to the vision.

With the move to SAFe, the company made demos optional for developers. And when they do attend, demos remain high-level and limited to just 5-10 minutes—compared to all-day demos presented previously. “If developers do attend demos, it’s an opportunity to read the face of the product manager they delivered to,” Meister says.

Clearer Vision, Predictability and Priorities

At SEI, SAFe has fundamentally changed the culture of the engineering organization:

Greater visibility/transparency—Developers have more insight into broader company initiatives and activities. “Now, every planning session we do, every single employee practicing SAFe knows our financial results,” Meister says. “The work we do isn’t usually visible, so when you see that you impact the bottom line, it resonates better.”

SAFe: Enabling Value Delivery

Better coordination—Prior to SAFe, collaboration wasn’t necessarily constructive. Now, from Tokyo to San Diego, everyone speaks a common language when it comes to Agile. Disparate groups work together more cohesively, and SEI has enhanced coordination between Portfolio and Program management activities.

Dependency management—In an environment with many dependencies, SAFe serves as a dependency management system, improving predictability.

Clearer priorities—With weighted shortest job first (WSJF), SAFe brought a new approach to prioritizing. “SAFe has really allowed us to work on the most valuable thing at the moment,” Meister says.

$30 Million in Savings

Today, approximately 700 team members across 60 Scrum teams actively use SAFe. Since 2014, the company has launched six trains globally, shipped more than 350 production releases, completed 22 PSIs, over 125 sprints and 250 features. With the Framework, SEI also cut initial planning time by 28 percent. Instead of 1550 man-days to plan, it now takes 1125.

“I personally believe we have delivered more in the two years we’ve been using SAFe than we did in the four years prior—not in raw code, but in value,” Meister says. “Our downtime went down and that saved the company about 30 million over the course of the year. Before, we had done similar things, but they were not nearly as effective as SAFe.”

The following summary is based on a public presentation by Tripp Meister of PlayStation Network.

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Swisscom – Agility Planning with SAFe for Telecom

Agility Planning with SAFe for Telecom

“It usually takes about 36 months to bring a new TV platform to market but we had a minimally viable product in 8-10 months and brought the full product to market in 18 months. SAFe helped our relatively small team build and run a world-class product and guided us when in doubt, showing us the way toward Agile product development flow.”

Simon Berg, Agile Program Manager, Swisscom Entertainment Projects

Challenge:

Swisscom had to move quickly to bring a new IPTV product to market since a competitor had already begun a similar effort.

Industry:

Telecommunications

Solution:

  • SAFe®
  • Rally® Unlimited Edition (now CA Agile Central)

Results:

  • Swisscom brought TV 2.0 to market in about half the time of comparable projects, ahead of the competition.
  • The company decreased the time from code-ready to mass rollout from 9-12 months to no longer than six weeks.
  • The product won a coveted industry award for “Best multi-screen experience.”
  • Last year, IPTV signups grew by nearly 14 percent.
  • PI Planning recommendation score from participants: 8.3/10

Best Practices:

  • Test Automation—Swisscom reduced end-to-end test team size from dozens to just three, while maintaining quality – and deployed those individuals to other value-producing functions.
  • Program Increment Planning—Planning with SAFe led to new alignment and momentum.
  • Most Valuable Feature First—WSJF Abstract (Weighted Shortest Job First) helped prioritize features and quantify the cost of delay.

Introduction

Across the globe, consumers are increasingly choosing IPTV over cable. In Switzerland, more than 1.37 million customers now subscribe to Swisscom’s cloud-based service, Swisscom TV 2.0.

Agility Planning with SAFe for Telecom

While the growth of Swisscom TV 2.0 is a success story in itself, so too is the company’s journey to bring the product to market in a highly competitive industry where speed can make the difference between success and failure.

Thanks to Agile development practices with SAFe and a new level of collaboration between business and IT, the Engineering group at Swisscom Entertainment achieved the feat in half the time of typical projects, with a small but nimble team.

“It usually takes about 36 months to bring a new TV platform to market but we had a minimally viable product in 8-10 months and brought the full product to market in 18 months,” says Simon Berg, Agile Program Manager, Swisscom Entertainment Projects. “SAFe helped our relatively small team build and run a world-class product and guided us when in doubt, showing us the way toward Agile product development flow.”

SAFe: The Blueprint Swisscom Sought

In 2012, Swisscom initiated plans to bring a new IPTV offering to the market, to go beyond the basic product currently available.

This time, Swisscom wanted to add features that newly available technology would make possible. Adding urgency, the company’s largest competitor had reportedly already begun work on a similar product.

At the time, Swisscom ran what Berg describes as a PMI-style, waterfall, multi-project environment that was transitioning into a home-grown, scaled Scrum approach. A year prior, Swisscom had taken steps to realize a product house model by moving “business” and “IT development” groups into one organization.

Now, the Engineering group sought to scale Agile in earnest, leading it to the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe).

“Many things we tried to come up with on our own were already defined in a structured manner in SAFe,” Berg says. “It clicked with us, and we began transitioning to SAFe almost immediately after discovering it. With SAFe, we were able to take incremental transformation steps, profiting from the vast body of knowledge it represents.”

Finally: Big-Room Success

The team had already implemented three-month program increments with teams structured along program lines. However, they had not yet tried cross-functional, big-room planning meetings.

After diving into SAFe, the Engineering group held its first Program Increment (PI) planning session with approximately 70 people across multiple functions, including product owners, IT operations, business operations, product management and experience development.

“I was pleased to see which people were talking to each other, people who had not talked before,” Berg says. “Business owners and IT ops engineers talked about what they do and their priorities. They were giving each other their part of the vision and could finally align and work together.”

“We came out of the first PI planning session with a decent plan that lasted for the PI, except for one other small planning session,” Berg adds.

Today, PI planning has become standard practice. Noted one product manager after the group’s ninth PI planning meeting: “It’s challenging, but I don’t want to work differently ever again.”

More Flexible in a Fast-Changing Market

Agility Planning with SAFe for Telecom

In total, about 120 people ultimately worked on Swisscom TV 2.0, in more than 10 teams of teams, spanning from pure software development to video streaming, building up the data center capabilities and working to design the TV set-top box and remote control hardware. When you count non-Agile suppliers, the project included approximately 20 teams.

SAFe’s focus on alignment and shared vision kept diverse stakeholders in sync, accelerating progress and enhancing quality. “The focus on showing your work and releasing often for feedback helped us build a better product,” Berg says.

Likewise, SAFe provided flexibility when it mattered most. Mid-project, Swisscom decided to improve the product by removing time limits on the storage of recordings—a major product enhancement.

Berg also stresses the value of the WSJF concept (Weighted Shortest Job First) in helping prioritize features. “Quantifying the cost of delay was perhaps the most impactful learning of SAFe,” Berg says. “It was the first formula that really helped us have the right discussion about our priorities and what to build, aligned around the benefits to the customer.”

Such agility also helped the company become one of the first IPTV providers globally to launch Ultra HD Video on Demand, as well as Ultra HD live TV in early 2016.

Code Ready in Six Weeks

On the Swisscom TV 2.0 release, the company decreased the time from code-ready to mass rollout from 9-12 months to no longer than six weeks. “We don’t know of a comparable case in the industry,” Berg says.

Swisscom also did it more efficiently. Where test team size was once dozens of people, now with test automation, testing requires just three people while still maintaining product quality. Those testers now focus on other value-generating functions, ensuring that quality gets built into the process.

Beyond internal success, the industry took notice as well. The product went on to win a coveted award for “Best multi-screen experience”—an honor not usually bestowed on telecommunications companies.

Perhaps the greatest rewards: strong customer satisfaction scores and product sales. Last year, IPTV signups grew by nearly 14 percent.

Next Steps

Swisscom now deepens its SAFe adoption, with newly set priorities for elaborating on the economic framework concept and the solution intent concept, along with improving DevOps. Other Swisscom product units have also taken interest in adopting SAFe.

“For Swisscom TV, this has become a new way of doing business,” Berg says. “Others are looking into how we work because they see it drives us forward.”

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