SAFe Thursday: Expert Talk – Ask an SPCT

SAFe Thursday: Expert Talk – Ask an SPCT

We had an overwhelming response for the SAFe® Thursday – Ask an SPCT on 3 February and could not answer all of your questions. So we are back with another SAFe Thursday: Expert Talk – Ask an SPCT with Ashwinee Kalkura, SPCT, Professional Coach, on 3 March.

When:

March 3, 2022, 7:00 pm – March 3, 2022, 8:00 pm IST

Where:

Zoom

Who:

Agile Coach

Event Overview

To navigate digital disruption, many organizations have changed how Agile teams and ARTs collaborate, which means guidance on PI Planning, organizational agility, and Agile Teams needed to adapt as well. These rapid changes have resulted in many questions and doubts.

Are you struggling to find answers for your SAFe implementation? If so, register for this immersive webinar where Ashwinee will answer your questions live.

Speakers

Ashwinee Kalkura Headshot

Ashwinee Kalkura

SPCT, Professional Coach (Cyberbahn)

Ashwinee is an experienced Agile Coach, Consultant and a passionate Trainer with a demonstrated history of working in the Retail, Mobile, Industrial Automation, Banking and Networking industries. Strong engineering professional skilled in Agile Methodologies (SAFe, Scrum, XP, Kanban), Technical Practices, Test Automation and Stakeholder Management. He has trained over 2000 people on Certification based training. 

Porsche Lean-Agile Transformation Journey

How the legendary automotive brand approached Lean-Agile Transformation by building the Digital Product Organization

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Porsche leverages the power of using one language for roles, routines, and artifacts as they bring the
Porsche experience into the digital age.

In this presentation by Porsche transformation leaders, you will:

  • Get insights about the transformation approach and setup
  • Learn about the critical success factors at the beginning of the transformation
  • Find out more about over one year of a fully remote transformation experience and remote ART Launches
  • Get to know how the LACE Team handles different transformation velocities within the organization
  • Experience “Porsche Takt” as the Heartbeat of the transformation

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

  • Alena Keck, Senior Manager / MHP – A Porsche Company
  • Jan Burchhardt, Director Digital Transformation /Porsche AG

Back to: Customer Stories

Next: ZKH Customer Story

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

Standard Bank: The Journey to Agile at Scale

Presented at 2017 SAFe Summit by Alex Keyter, Lean-Agile Coach at Standard Bank

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Standard Bank embarked on a transformation journey in 2014 with IT initiating approximately 600 projects annually to help keep the bank at the leading edge. Historically, teams completed only a small percentage of projects within the defined timeframe, budget, and scope.

A visit to Silicon Valley’s top technology companies by our IT executives triggered the start of a number of Lean Agile proof-of-concepts, showcasing the potential of Agility in the enterprise. However, their efforts stalled when they attempted to expand beyond a few development teams working in isolation.

With a clear IT strategy in place, the bank turned to the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) and gained support from executives to forge ahead with deploying the Scaled Agile Framework across the organization. Prior to launching the first Agile Release Train, significant time was spent on designing Portfolios, Programs and Teams. Standard Bank also initiated programs that focused on transforming management and leadership; developing a culture that fosters autonomy mastery and purpose; and re-skilling individuals to return to the heart of IT as software engineers, quality engineers, and user experience analysts.

With a large number of ARTs already in their third and fourth Program Increment, the value of the transformation is tangible with the motivated staff producing quality, more frequent, predictable delivery. Coupled with the successes, Standard Bank drives continuous improvement through role maturity, enhanced engineering capability and ART optimization.

Read the full case study.

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Next: FedEx Customer Story

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.”

Back to: All Case Studies

Suggested Case Study: Standard Bank

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”.

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Suggested Case Study:

Air France- KLM

Standard Bank – Implementing SAFe and DevOps

Standard Bank - Implementing SAFe and DevOps

“SAFe provided the structure we needed to scale Agile enterprise-wide. It addressed the complexities and gave us the framework for building portfolios, roles, and jobs to achieve our goals for productivity, morale, and quality.”

Alex Keyter, Lean Agile Transformation Consultant (SPC4), Standard Bank

Challenge:

The bank sought to improve service quality, efficiency, and employee morale, but previous efforts to scale Lean-Agile beyond a few teams had stalled.

Industry:

Financial Services

Solution:

SAFe®

Results:

  • Time-to-market reduced from 700 to 30 days
  • Deployments increased from once or twice a year to monthly
  • Productivity increased 50%
  • Cost decreased by 77%
  • Predictability is now at 68%
  • Organizational health improved by 12 percentage points from 2013 – 2016, thanks in part to SAFe

Best Practices:

  • Focus on culture change – Standard Bank moved from individual recognition to team awards and KPIs. The bank increased excitement and engagement through gamification, skills building, and automation.
  • Get the business involved early – The bank started the transition with IT. In hindsight, they would have engaged business owners sooner so they understood that the change was not just about IT. A handful of progressive thinkers helped influence the others.
  • Don’t forget to focus on engineering – “SAFe, coupled with a focus on engineering, takes it to the next level,” says Mike Murphy, Standard Bank CTO.

Introduction

Based in South Africa, Standard Bank is the largest African banking group, with total assets of ZAR1.95 trillion (USD143 billion). For more than 152 years, the bank has served the continent and is now present in 20 sub-Saharan countries. Standard Bank operates seven different portfolio offerings across business and personal banking, corporate and investment, and wealth management.

Standard Bank - Implementing SAFe and DevOps

At Standard Bank, the IT team embarks on approximately 600 projects every year to help keep the bank at the leading edge. Yet traditionally, teams have completed only a small percentage of projects within the defined timeframe, budget, and scope.

To improve follow-through, Standard Bank tried a few Lean-Agile pilots. However, their efforts stalled when they attempted to expand beyond a few teams working in isolation.

“We were very much a project-based environment,” explains Alex Keyter, Lean Agile Transformation Consultant (SPC4) at Standard Bank. “We tried waterfall, a combined team approach, and other frameworks, but nothing addressed the challenge of delivering value across organizational silos. Standard Bank has over 2,000 systems in IT, which required tremendous coordination to deliver an initiative successfully.”

Changing Culture and Launching POCs

On the back of a number of benchmarks that the bank set locally and internationally, the company initiated a four-pillar IT strategy:

  • Quality of service through brilliant basics, which are defined as IT housekeeping and maintenance; stability of service; and simplifying and reducing complexity
  • Responsiveness to market
  • Sustainability as the foundation of client excellence
  • Affordability through commercial pragmatism

To support its goals, the bank turned to the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®), and gained backing from executives to move ahead with deploying it. “SAFe provided the structure we needed to scale Agile enterprise-wide,” Keyter says. “It addressed the complexities and gave us the framework for building portfolios, programs, and teams to achieve our strategic goals.”

But prior to rolling out SAFe, Standard Bank initiated various culture initiatives to start driving the change in behavior of leaders and teams, and launched proofs of concept.

“To affect culture change is like pulling out a rubber band,” explains Josef Langerman, Head of Engineering and IT Transformation at Standard Bank. “When the band is relaxed, it returns to its previous comfortable state. One has to exert energy again to pull it out. By doing this repeatedly and in different ways, the band gets softer and more stretched out. Similarly, culture needs continued effort and reliance on many techniques to move it to a new comfortable or desired state. There is no silver bullet.”

The bank took a number of steps to stretch out of its comfort zone:

  • They pulled cross-functional teams together and began delivering on a cadence
  • The Internet Banking and ATM teams modeled breaking work down into smaller, more manageable pieces and demonstrated to stakeholders the work completed during the sprint
  • Business and IT stakeholders joined in during these showcases to provide feedback to the teams
  • They switched their work attire from suits and ties to jeans
  • They began running off-site sessions with IT to define culture themes, change guilds, and more
  • They initiated DevOps initiatives prior to the SAFe implementation but were formalized during the roll-out

As part of the transition, Standard Bank set out to create a fully automated self-provisioning environment with scripting, and used an automation challenge to drive interest in skills. Automation pilots yielded significant tangible results:

  • 20 minutes – Time to deploy application server stack end-to-end
  • 30 seconds – Time to release new code to customers
  • 0 percent – Deployment impact to customers

Additionally, the bank set a clear vision for the future of the organization. At the top, leaders aligned around a common understanding of goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) and emulated Silicon Valley tech leaders on the kind of change and coaching culture required.

At lower levels, the development community participated in defining the future state of the bank. Standard Bank also empowered employees to design their own culture as a group—to achieve true ownership.

Implementing SAFe and DevOps

Prior to launching the first Agile Release Train (ART), Standard Bank portfolios embarked on an outside-in model, moving away from the traditional project structures into a SAFe design construct forming cross-functional Teams, Programs, and Portfolios. The bank set a milestone for the first of July 2016 for teams to co-locate, work from a backlog, and establish visual management of work and self-regulated teams.

With the outside-in design taking shape, Human Capital with support from the Group CIO started a program that focused on re-skilling individuals to repurpose them as software engineers, quality engineers, or user experience analysts. Once they passed the aptitude test and went through the program, they were placed in a feature team. As a result, the organization now has more people getting the work done versus managing it.

Standard Bank - Implementing SAFe and DevOps

“We really broke the old business operating model,” explains Adrian Vermooten, Head of Digital for the Africa Regions. “We said, ‘We’re changing our methodology. We’re moving out of this building and you’re giving up your old jobs.’”

In July 2016, two individuals attended SAFe Program Consultant (SPC) training and returned to begin rapidly training hundreds of team members. From July 2016 through February 2017, Standard Bank trained approximately 1,200 people on Leading SAFe in preparation for its first Program Increment (PI) planning meeting in January 2017.

A division CIO set the tone for executive sponsorship by earning certification as a SAFe Agilist prior to the first PI. Then he and other leaders planned heavily for the first event.

The First PI: A Mind-frame Shift

Leading up to the first Program Increment (PI), the bank evaluated the various internal and external teams impacting Agile Release Trains (ARTs) in the Portfolio and extended invitations accordingly. The first PI brought together 300 people from the Card & Emerging Payments group, which depends on more than 32 systems with numerous codependencies. While challenging, the event succeeded in kicking off a major mind-frame shift.

“The way we normally do things, we inherently start with, ‘Why? And we can’t do that,’ as opposed to this process which was, ‘We can do it, and how?’” stated one of the attendees.

Following a successful PI Planning session, the benchmark was set and other Portfolios soon followed with their first PI Planning sessions.

Productivity Up 50 Percent

These days, with more than 2,000 people trained on Leading SAFe, Lean-Agile practices and SAFe are key parts of Standard Bank’s strategic plan. The move to SAFe delivered a number of benefits, both qualitative and quantitative. Standard Bank succeeded in breaking down silos and improving dependency management. They removed complexity and reduced cost—while building more. Business people now prioritize work and budgets to account for IT change.

The bank notes significant gains within some of the more mature Teams or Portfolios:

  • Time-to-market reduced from 700 to 30 days
  • Deployments increased from once or twice a year to monthly
  • Productivity increased 50 percent
  • Cost decreased by 77 percent
  • Predictability is now at 68 percent
  • Organizational health improved by 12 percentage points from 2013 – 2016

As hoped, the benefits have trickled down to the customer. “We put together some teams that much more closely represent the customer value chain,” Vermooten says.

Beyond the numbers, Vermooten sees the changes firsthand every day. Senior staff members get out from behind their desks and interact more with teams, while junior staff feel more free to share ideas.

“We flattened the organization,” he says. “Before, only senior people would speak up in meetings. Now, in every meeting, junior people are leading the conversation. There’s higher energy and intensity in people. It brings out the best in them.”

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Suggested Case Study: Westpac

Intel – Implementing SAFe for Information Technology

Intel - Implementing SAFe for Information Technology

In 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore made a stunning observation: The number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits had doubled every 18 months since their invention. He predicted the trend would continue into the foreseeable future—and it generally has. A billion transistors now fit on a chip the size of a pea.

Challenge:

In a complex, fast-growth industry, Intel must continuously innovate while controlling costs and maintaining quality.

Industry:

Information Technology

Solution:

SAFe®, Agile and Lean

Results:

  • MVE delivered 65% more products with the same capacity.
  • Improved Commit-to-Accept ratios from 74% to +90%.
  • Everything is visible to everyone.
  • Scope change reduced to less than 5%.

Best Practices:

  • Choose the right RTEs – Intel found that effective RTEs have a combination of technical background and a deeper Agile mindset/experience
  • Train the Leaders – Business owners and Train Management should be required to attend SAFe training. It is critical that the leaders speak for the transformation, act as role models, and reinforce direction within the organization. Leverage advocates in the organization whenever possible.
  • Always end with Inspect & Adapt – Just get started and then learn and adapt. Favor “progress over perfection.”
  • Keep it Simple – Don’t overcomplicate the process, and bring things back to the basics of Agile and Lean.

Introduction

Intel has been integral in pushing that pace of growth in the marketplace. Today, the company employs more than 100,000 people globally and reports net revenue of $59.4 billion.

But like most enterprises, as it continuously innovates and expands, Intel must balance cost control while maintaining high quality.

“With the complexity and number of the products skyrocketing, if we didn’t adjust or adapt, other than adding more people, Moore’s Law would crush us,” says Allen Ringel, Lean & Agile Transformation Leader, Intel.

Agile at Enterprise Scale

Agile at Enterprise Scale

Intel’s Manufacturing Development Organization (MDO) division tests and validates Intel solutions, producing over two million lines of code every two weeks. In an effort to deliver more value, MDO began to adopt Lean-Agile practices in 2005, and by 2012 had small pockets of Scrum and a homegrown solution for scaling Scrum.

“We found the Agile approach attractive because it turns the Iron Triangle on its head,” Ringel says. “Features are negotiable but time, cost, and quality are not.”

Yet as more people and divisions were folded into MDO, Intel found it increasingly difficult to scale Scrum. Thus, a team of about 15 people tasked with driving Lean-Agile at Intel looked at industry frameworks for ways to scale more effectively.

In 2013, MDO discovered the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®), which provided clear structure and roles for taking the company into the next phase of Agile. SAFe also aligned well with the company’s broader Lean approach as a learning organization focused on continuous improvement and waste elimination.

“In an organization as large as MDO we needed to standardize the planning and execution process we use to work together to deliver value,” Ringel says. “When we encountered SAFe it provided a proven, public framework, with well-defined roles and artifacts for applying Lean and Agile at the enterprise level.”

Those 15 Lean-Agile leaders prepared for the implementation by attending the SAFe Program Consultant (SPC) Certification training. After mapping the roles, principles, practices & tools to back to what currently existed in the organization, they had essentially created a trail through the forest with a visible plan for implementation. Then they jumped in with both feet.

Leading up to the first Program Increment (PI) planning event, Intel trained more than 1,500 people. Over the course of eight weeks, they launched eight Agile Release Trains (ARTs) with 170 Scrum teams—with Christmas and New Year’s in the middle. To ease the transition, the 15 Intel Lean-Agile coaches were embedded at the 14 different sites with MDO teams to answer questions and provide guidance.

At Intel, executive backing proved critical to the success of the rollout. Mohsen Fazlian, General Manager of the division, created a shared vision by communicating clearly about the reasons for adopting SAFe and scaling Agile. Intel also reinforced Scrum rules for teams to be properly sized, co-located, 100% committed, and cross-functional. Where co-location was not possible & budgets allowed, Intel brought together people in person for at least the first planning event.

That first PI, admittedly, demanded considerably more effort than subsequent events. Yet, the ability to see immediate value spurred momentum. “The planning events were essential for teams to align at the train level while highlighting dependencies and allowing risk mitigation early on,” Ringel says.

Intel made a few enhancements to the typical SAFe deployment. They digitized the program board so they could see everything on a dashboard at all times and identify efforts quickly as progressing normally or abnormally. Lean-Agile leaders guided managers in looking at abnormal areas from a new perspective. If something turned red on the virtual program board, instead of managers saying, “Fix this,” they ask, “How can I help?”

Training 2,000 Over Three Months

Fast forward to 2017. Intel has grown Lean-Agile practices at a pace that rivals Moore’s Law. The well-defined roles and terminology within SAFe serve as essential signposts for those new to the Framework.

The structure has kept the trains on track as the organization continuously expands. A merger with another group—now combined under the name Manufacturing Value Engineering (MVE)—nearly doubled the size of the organization.

Agile at Enterprise Scale

To fold in the new division, MVE trained nearly 2,000 people over three months and immediately organized them into trains. While the change came as a bit of a shock to some, the rapid integration enabled people to participate in the Agile system while trainers consistently communicated the value of the change, helping people experience it first hand and embrace their roles with the new way of working.

“We all feel part of a bigger thing and speak a common language that everyone understands,” Ringel says. “There’s clarity in the model we work in, which has definitely been something people latch on to.”

Ringel says that Intel has settled on an acceptable ratio of coaches to employees: 1:200-250. “We have shown management that we can deliver value with half a percent of the organization as transformation leaders,” he says.

One of the Largest Reported SAFe Deployment

Today, MVE has over 440 Scrums organized into 35 ARTs, including software and hardware engineers. MVE continues to widen the circle and is frequently consulted by organizations throughout Intel. Adjacent organizations at Intel interested in MVE’s success have enlisted MVE to help with scaling Agile, leading to eight additional ARTs in partner organizations. In fact, Intel’s effort is one of the largest publicly reported SAFe deployment based on number of ARTs.

While scaling has not been easy, it has been worth it. The impact of these efforts ripples across the company.

Increased Product Variants

  • Helped MVE to delivered 65% more product variants

Strong Performance-to-Schedule Discipline

  • Capacity-based planning and cadence provides a heartbeat and prevents schedule slips
  • Customers and upper management are changing their behaviors to protect the cadence set by Program Increments
  • Commit-to-Accept ratios improved from 74% to +90%
  • MVE minimized scope change in Program Increments to less than 5%

Increased Transparency & Visibility

  • The company identified bugs, impediments, weak tools and poor engineering habits
  • Transparency is invaluable and everything is visible to everyone
  • Communication & conversations are more valuable than tracking indicators in a tool
  • MVE now has a strong community with a common language

Institutionalized Process

  • Teams have demanded adherence when the environment becomes chaotic

Ultimately, Intel’s Lean-Agile efforts help it maintain the industry’s rapid rate of growth.

“Lean & Agile help us deliver more products without adding more people, so we can stay competitive and keep up with Moore’s Law,” Ringel says.

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Suggested Case Study:

Deutsche Bhan

Vantiv – Scaled Agile Business Solutions with SAFe

Scaled Agile Business Solutions with SAFe

“Since beginning our Lean-Agile journey with SAFe, Vantiv has focused its strategic efforts and its execution. We have improved the predictability of product delivery while maintaining high quality, and have become even more responsive to customers—resulting in higher customer satisfaction. And just as important, employee engagement went up over the past year.”

Dave Kent, Enterprise Agile Coach, Vantiv

Challenge:

Deliver solutions with more sustainable, long-term impact, and do so quickly to stay ahead in a competitive industry

Industry:

Information Technology, Financial Services

Solution:

SAFe® v4.0

Results:

  • In 2015, Vantiv delivered 7 percent more features and capabilities with 9 percent less staff.
  • In response to an internal customer’s request, teams delivered on time—if not ahead of schedule—with a significant positive impact to financial results.
  • Teams delivered on commitments 80 to 100 percent of the time.
  • Year over year, the number of changes in its solutions has doubled, yet the number of quality incidents reported by customers has not increased.

Best Practices:

  • Quarterly Business Reviews—Collaborative meetings keep product teams and the business on the same page.
  • Get experienced help—Agile coaches provided experience and practical examples that made a difference compared to previous efforts.

The partner that made it happen:

Introduction

Payment processing leader Vantiv Inc. powers more than $25 billion financial transactions every year, from the largest retailers in the U.S. to your local coffee shop. The company makes payments smarter, faster, and easier by partnering with software companies and technology service firms to embed payments processing in front and back office applications. Its commerce technology integrates into a broad set of point of sale systems, reaching merchants through an extensive partner network of thousands of point-of-sale software developers and value-added resellers.

Vantiv - Scaled Agile Business Solutions with SAFe

The company also offers a comprehensive suite of traditional and innovative payment processing and technology solutions to merchants and financial institutions of all sizes, enabling them to address their payment processing needs through a single provider.

Exceptionally responsive to customers, Vantiv creates many of its solutions specifically for individual organizations. While retaining its renowned enterprise service, the company sought to take a longer-term view by developing solutions to meet the needs of a broader range of its customer base. The goal is to deliver solutions with more sustainable, long-term impact, and do so quickly to stay ahead in a competitive industry.

SAFe: For Consistency and Continuous Improvement

In 2015, Vantiv embarked on several business transformation initiatives under a common umbrella called True North. True North seeks to create a culture of clarity, direction, and continuous improvement; and rewire the company for excellence in product, IT, marketing, and strategy.

For an objective view, Vantiv brought in a well-respected thought leader in product management and product development. The consultant made two key recommendations: take a more holistic view with a product-led strategy, and pursue a Lean-Agile approach for product development across the enterprise. At that time, there were pockets of Scrum within IT.

To address both those goals, the company started an Agile transformation of its entire enterprise, however, momentum was hindered by a lack of focus on people and teams, and little understanding of Agile. For help, Vantiv turned to Scaled Agile Gold Partners, CA Technologies and Icon Technology Consulting, along with the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) for the structure and methodology needed to deploy Lean-Agile practices.

“To be successful with Agile, we realized that we needed a more concerted effort at the team level and more consistency in how we deliver,” says Henry Noble, Program Director, Transformation. “We found SAFe the ideal framework for achieving that.”

1000+ SAFe Users

With the help of their partners, Vantiv held a series of “Agile Awareness” roadshows around the company’s various locations. They answered questions and encouraged employees to talk about past Agile efforts.

Next, Vantiv employees attended a 2-week formation program with an introduction to Lean-Agile practices and tools. Dedicated coaches worked daily with the group that ultimately formed into seven teams. They began working in two-week sprints, but held off on forming their first Agile Release Train (ART) until they were ready to fully embrace the new way of working.

Vantiv - Scaled Agile Business Solutions with SAFe

Though initially hesitant, teams soon embraced with the new approach. “The biggest misunderstanding that developers had was that if you’re Agile you’re fluid,” Noble says. “But they soon learned there is quite of bit of structure required to be successful.”

Teams soon became more engaged, and after 6-8 weeks teams had matured enough to be ready to assemble an ART. For the first Program Increment (PI) planning meeting, in June of 2015, the event brought together 150 people.

“We see a common pattern where the first PI event for each newly formed train feels like they’re not ready, but post PI event every participant says it’s one of the best planning meetings they have ever attended,” Noble says.

From there, Vantiv’s Agile maturity accelerated with multiple Agile Release Trains containing multiple teams and all of the enterprise leveraging the SAFe framework.

Collaborative Quarterly Reviews

Part of the transformation required improved alignment between business goals and product development.

“Our quarterly business reviews were a great opportunity to provide greater transparency and feedback, and demonstrate how the whole organization adjusts and collaborates to help address customer needs,” says Dave Kent, Enterprise Agile Coach at Vantiv. “Participation in this strategic planning by all stakeholders not only helps with product leadership, but also shows how powerful it is when product and IT strategy are aligned.”

Gains in Every Area

Eighteen months after deploying SAFe, the company has measured improvements:

Productivity

In 2015, Vantiv delivered seven percent more features and capabilities with nine percent less manpower. “We can comfortably say we’re delivering more capabilities with less staff while going through a transformation at the same time,” Noble says. “We do more with less by eliminating waste and focusing on core functionality.”

Time to Market

Vantiv has met its goal of becoming more focused on product delivery—creating innovative solutions ahead of market demand.

Predictability

At the ART level, teams delivered on commitments 80 to 100 percent of the time by focusing on incremental delivery and listening to the stakeholders’ feedback.

“To continue to stay ahead of the market, we focused on our responsiveness and predictability, resulting in firm commitments to our customers and providing transparency to the organization,” says Henry Noble, Program Director, Transformation at Vantiv.

Quality

Year over year, the number of changes to its solutions has doubled, yet the number of quality incidents reported by customers has not increased. “Our quality continues to improve, with quality now being built in from the smallest pieces,” Kent says.

Employee Engagement and Retention

With greater transparency comes more trust and employee engagement, making for a real culture change. That led to a decrease in attrition over the past two years, and Vantiv has been voted Best Place to Work in Cincinnati.

“SAFe provides alignment and transparency,” Kent says. “Individuals feel like they truly understand their part in the whole, and how their work aligns with the goals of the company.”

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Suggested Case Study: Royal Philips

LEGO Digital Solutions – Business Agility Transformation

“ … this has ​improved the motivation​ of the team members. Going to work is more fun when there’s less confusion and less waste. And motivated people do better work, so it’s a positive cycle! Another impact we’ve seen is that other parts of LEGO visit the meeting, get super inspired, and start exploring how to implement some of these principles and practices in their own department. In fact, agile is spreading like a virus within the company, and the highly visible nature of the PI planning event is like a a catalyst.

—Henrik Kniberg and Eik Thyrsted

Update:

January, 2017 : A year after Henrik Kniberg and Eik Thyrsted shared the first phase of LEGO’s SAFe journey, they are back with the next chapter of their story. Their efforts to nip and tuck SAFe for optimal results run the gamut from large edits to small tweaks, and their learnings and outcomes are captured in a 36-page in-depth summary that is full of candid commentary and describes the thought process behind each decision. You can download it below.

Industry:

Consumer Products

Introduction

One of the world’s leading manufacturers of play materials, The LEGO Group is still owned by the Kirk Kristiansen family who founded it in 1932. With headquarters in Billund, Denmark, and main offices in Enfield, USA, London, UK, Shanghai, China, and Singapore, the company employs more than 15,000 people worldwide.

In 2014, LEGO Digital Solutions turned to SAFe to improve their collaboration model and seek out what they like to refer to as the “Land of Awesome.” Their story of transformation was presented at LKCE (Lean Kanban Central Europe) by LEGO’s Head of Project Management, Eik Thyrsted Brandsgård and Lean/Kanban Coach, Mattias Skarin from Crisp.

Much like creating something from LEGO® bricks, they built their transformation one piece at a time, starting with inviting 20 managers to a 2-day Leading SAFe class. From there, they began training the teams; first one, then another until they had 20 teams trained in SAFe. They approached every step as a learning journey, allowing for creativity along the way. When something didn’t seem like a good fit, they weren’t afraid to experiment. Taking results from Inspect and Adapt, they tweaked SAFe to their needs with a simple guiding principle, “Keep the stuff that generates energy.”

“The combination of a structured system, logic and unlimited creativity encourages the child to learn through play in a wholly unique LEGO fashion.” —The LEGO Group

Their first PI Planning event—which they now refer to as their “center of gravity”—went better than expected, with the teams eager to take what they learned and apply it.

“You just can’t replace face-to-face communication, and PI planning is just a fantastic way to do that.”

Their presentation includes insights and lessons learned, such as:

  • You need critical mass
  • They can now better manage expectations
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment
  • To become good at something you need to practice it
  • Experimenting your way forward matters more than your selection of path

SAFe’s creator, Dean Leffingwell, calls their presentation, “One of the most insightful applications and presentations that I’ve yet seen on SAFe.” You can view their 45-minute video below.

Many thanks to Mattias and Eik for sharing their inspiring story!

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Suggested Case Study:

PlayStation Network