NTT DATA

Customer Story – NTT DATA: Japanese Payment Services Leader Transforms Organizational Culture and Improves Business Agility with SAFe

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NTNTT DATA brings the first Japanese customer story to the SAFe Summit audience. Headquartered in Tokyo and operating in more than 50 countries as a top 10 global IT services provider, NTT Data turned to SAFe to improve its ability to respond to market demands and stay ahead of a growing number of competitors. In his presentation, Product Manager Takenori Osada describes the difficulty of introducing Agile in Japan, how their culture transformed, and how they applied SAFe in their Payments Services Division and were able to see significant improvements in employee Net Promoter Scores, time-to-market, productivity, and quality.

SAFe is essential for us to be able to compete in the payment market. This resulted in an investment cost advantage.” —Director (Business owner)

Presented at the Global SAFe Summit, October, 2020.

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Cerno – SAFe Implementation for IT: A Case Study

“We collaborate more than ever with our customers by involving them in planning as much as we can. And we deliver frequent demos—even beyond customers’ expectations. Our customers have found communication to be more effective since the SAFe implementation.”

Sam Wu, Agile Head Coach and Training Director, Cerno

Challenge:

Deliver custom solutions faster and with higher quality for clients.

Industry:

Information Technology, Software

Results:

  • Delivery cycle time dropped by 58%
  • The rate of release failure went down from 0.6 times on average per release to 0
  • The interface automation level increased from zero to 70 percent
  • Reported defects decreased from 13 times per release to five

Best Practices:

  • Power through setbacks – Find solutions and don’t let them stop your momentum.
  • Assess regularly – Inspect & Adapt and DevOps health checks keep teams aware of progress and on track toward goals.
  • Choose a compatible partner – A partner with a business view, not just R&D, moved Cerno ahead with training and coaching.

Introduction

As a custom software factory, Cerno is poised for rapid growth as part of China’s expansive technology market. The company delivers technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing, open source software, and IoT solutions for a diverse range of clients, from logistics to government.

Cerno - SAFe Implementation for IT

To compete effectively, Cerno set out to elevate the speed of delivery, reduce defects, and improve the quality of its solutions in the long term, with the ultimate objective of being more client-focused.

“We needed a next-generation software development method to meet customer needs and reach our goals,” explained Sam Wu, Agile Head Coach and Training Director, Cerno.

Cerno’s founders brought experience in developing software for the financial industry. They found the ‘weak matrix’ structure worked in HR outsourcing, but not so well in product delivery. (A weak matrix is an organizational structure in which the balance of power tilts decisively in the direction of line or functional management.)

And while the traditionally waterfall company had experimented with Lean-Agile development in the past, they lacked the training or business support to build momentum.

SAFe®: The Path from Strategy to Delivery

While attending Leading SAFe® training, a Cerno executive saw a promising path to Agile, leading Cerno to adopt the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe). “It was clear that we needed SAFe to make Cerno a total Agile enterprise, to expand Agile not only to product lines but also to the business and functional departments such as HR and finance,” explained Liu Yilei, VP, Cerno. “We saw SAFe as the model that would take us from strategy to delivery.

“SAFe provided a comprehensive toolkit and an easy way to move forward,” added Wu, who was hired at that time to lead the effort as the internal change agent. At the same time, the company brought in SAFe Gold partner Aura International for coaching and training.

Per the SAFe Implementation Roadmap, James Li, Principal Consultant from Aura, led the SAFe Executive Workshop. Jack Xu, Senior Consultant from Aura, delivered SAFe® for Teams training and helped prepare for the first Program Increment (PI) planning event. They organized teams, reconfigured the office to better support those teams, and reorganized the product plan with user-story mapping.

For the first Agile Release Train launch, they began with four Agile teams—the entire R&D team plus Infrastructure and Operations—on an existing initiative to digitalize a logistics solution for a client.

From that first PI, team leaders embraced the Lean-Agile mindset. They identified priorities based on business value and began allowing people to self-organize. Instead of waiting to be assigned work, developers identified the work based on business objectives, committed to the work in PI Planning, and moved forward with it.

More Stories in Less Time—Despite Setbacks

Though Cerno set out to follow SAFe by the book, they ran into roadblocks that forced mid-course adjustments. In middle of the first PI, the Systems Architect left, leading Cerno to assemble a team to assume his responsibilities.

Additionally, the customer cut some funding because of market forces. And when managers wanted to move some teams to another client project, it nearly stopped the train. Given technical and capacity challenges, Cerno chose to postpone 15 percent of the high-risk PI objectives and scale back the size of the train.

Developers also found it challenging to transition from private to public code, a decision made to reduce bottlenecks in bug fixes and hidden technical debt. As the project team transitioned away from three-week waterfall development, the coaching team helped set code standards. In time, they found that developers took more pride in their code because of its public nature.

Even with the early challenges, the Inspect and Adapt session after the first PI showed the teams had met PI objectives and reduced defects. The ART could produce 45 stories per two-week iteration, on average, by the end of the first PI, compared to 30 stories per three-week iteration in waterfall.

Cerno - SAFe Implementation for IT

Routine DevOps Health Checks

When Cerno first introduced DevOps practices, the company lacked a SAFe DevOps Practitioner. Still, they made progress on a delivery pipeline and staging environment, supported a grayscale release of a product, and shortened the time to release future versions.

Additionally, they formed a new system integration testing (SIT) plan that shrunk testing time by 25 percent initially, and then by half, freeing the development team to put more effort into new features.

To expedite progress, they began conducting DevOps health checks. Early on, those checks uncovered opportunities to improve delivery. To stay on track, they now perform this exercise every PI. With the habit of regular checks, Cerno has made strides with automated testing and continuous integration/continuous deployment.

To support their efforts, they also established Communities of Practice and hold monthly technical workshops for developers.

Delivery Cycle Time Down 58 Percent

Today, Cerno runs two ARTs with 80 people. These high-confidence teams agree on, and begin working on, requirements faster. They communicate and collaborate more tightly than before they introduced SAFe and are continuously improving.

When the ART completed work with one client, they simply switched the train to support another logistics client with a similar solution—effectively a plug-and-play release train. The company then added a second ART to deliver value to another client. Each train continues to serve a single client.

To date, Cerno has made remarkable progress:

  • Delivery cycle time dropped from 3½ weeks to two weeks, or 58 percent
  • The average offline time for a new production environment release decreased from 3½ hours to half an hour
  • The rate of release failure went down from 0.6 times on average per release to 0
  • The interface automation level increased from zero to 70 percent
  • Reported defects decreased from 13 times per release to five

Most importantly, Cerno realized its goal of becoming a more customer-centric organization.

“We collaborate more than ever with our customers by involving them in planning as much as we can. And we deliver frequent demos—even beyond customers’ expectations,” Wu said. “Our customers have found communication to be more effective since the SAFe implementation.

“This is the first SAFe transformation case I have coached in a local company in China,” Li said. “Although there’s still more to improve, it is really a great and wonderful start! It is a significant milestone for SAFe in China.”

Looking ahead, Cerno is building toward agility beyond solution delivery, into administrative management and marketing—to become a total Agile enterprise.

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Suggested Case Study: Amdocs

Murex – SAFe Implementation for Financial Software

Murex - SAFe Implementation for Financial Software

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

Jonathan Coyle, Head of Agile Factory Operations

Challenge:

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

Industry:

Information Technology, Financial Services

Solution:

SAFe®

Results:

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

Best Practices:

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

Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

Pursuing Continuous Delivery the SAFe® Way

Murex - SAFe Implementation for Financial Software

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Impressive Productivity Gains

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Suggested Case Study: Westpac

Cisco

Cisco - SAFe for Agile development

“Continuous delivery improved quality, increased productivity, and improved the employee experience.”

Ashish Pandey, Technical Lead, CSIT Team

Challenge:

Cisco wanted to shift away from waterfall, and replace periodic major releases with continuous delivery of new features.

Industry:

Information Technology, Telecommunications

Results:

Cisco achieved significant improvements by using SAFe on two major projects:

  • 16% drop in the defect rejected ratio (DRR)
  • 40% decrease in critical and major defects
  • 14% increase in defect removal efficiency (DRE)
  • Improved employee satisfaction by eliminating the need for after-hours work and reducing meetings/calls
  • 25 percent fewer quality assurance defects
  • Sprints that ran more efficiently each subsequent time

Best Practices:

  • Carefully build teams – Build teams with the best members from any location.
  • Assemble the right tools – Cisco realized it could not have conducted regression testing every two weeks without test automation tools.
  • Adjust as needed – For un-integrated or loosely integrated products, features or components, consider eliminating the Program level of SAFe.

Introduction

Cisco IT constantly looks for new ways to go faster and simplify. As part of its digital IT strategy, the Cisco Cloud and Software IT (CSIT) organization wanted to adopt more Agile development as a way to replace periodic major releases with continuous delivery of new features.

Cisco - SAFe for Agile development

“Our goals are to speed up releases, increase productivity, and improve quality,” says Ashish Pandey, technical lead for the CSIT team.

Although a few small teams had adopted Agile techniques, waterfall was still the norm for teams that were large, distributed, or working on complex projects.

To solve these challenges, CSIT moved to the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) and immediately began applying Agile practices on two major initiatives: their Subscription Billing Platform, and Webex app for Samsung tablets.

Cisco® Subscription Billing Platform Challenge

For its Subscription Billing Platform (SBP)—which supports various subscription services—the company originally formed different teams for design, build, test and deploy. In waterfall fashion, each team began work once the previous team had completed their part.

Cisco - SAFe for Agile development
  • The separate tracks bogged down the process
  • Release cycles exceeded three months
  • They got late closure on requirements documents
  • Teams missed delivery dates
  • There were quality issues due to late integration cycles
  • Teams worked long hours to make up for schedule slippage

The Solution

  • On SBP, Cisco launched three Agile Release Trains (ARTs) in 2015: capabilities, defects and fixes, and projects.
  • All three trains worked together to build and test small features within one SaaS component, while regularly delivering tested features to the system integration and testing team.
  • Every day, the delivery team met for 15 minutes and determined action items.

Results – 40% Defect Reduction

Cisco delivered the new release of SBP on time and with all planned capabilities. When the company compared this release to those using waterfall, it found a 16 percent drop in the defect rejected ratio (DRR). Plus, critical and major defects decreased by 40 percent.

Continuous delivery also increased defect removal efficiency (DRE) by 14 percent due to greater collaboration among international teams, and by helping members identify opportunities for improvement during daily meetings.

Cisco - SAFe for Agile development

The CSIT team attributes those quality improvements to several factors:

  • Improving team collaboration and focus
  • Enabling all team members to see current project status, promoting accountability
  • Helping the three teams see beyond their own track
  • Enabling teams to manage themselves

Additionally, the new way of working improved employee satisfaction by eliminating the need for after-hours work and reducing meetings and calls. Employees also saw how they fit into the bigger picture.

WebEx® App for Samsung

Challenge

In early 2014, the application for WebEx Meetings came pre-installed on Android tablets. Leading up to the release, developers had to work quickly to meet the release date, despite frequently changing requirements.

Solution

The team followed an Agile Scrum framework with three sprints for geographic rollout, the first two consisting of three weeks and the last of five weeks.

During planning, Cisco IT and others gathered requirements, and evaluated the readiness of environments, partners, and engineering and marketing teams.
Developers employed extreme programming, including test-driven development, where they first write an automated test case for a new function. Then they produced the minimal amount of code needed to pass the test and then refined code to make it simpler and easier to maintain.

Results – 25% Reduction in Quality Assurance Defects

On the WebEx app, Cisco reduced quality assurance defects by 25 percent. Plus, with developers checking code in several times a day, the business group reviewed new features sooner in the cycle than before. And each sprint ran more efficiently than the last.

Ultimately, Samsung sold more than 35 million tablets with the new app, creating wide exposure for the brand.

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Suggested Case Study: Royal Philips

Johnson Controls

“SAFe brings so much more engagement, which has really been key for all parties. I wouldn’t want to do it any other way.”

Rajbir Bal, Program Manager, Access Control

Challenge:

JCI’s access control division needed to improve coordination among firmware and software teams across three locations with the goals of improving time-to-market, quality, and engagement.

Industry:

Information Technology

Solution:

SAFe®

Results:

  • The division releases at least 2-4X more frequently than before
  • JCI reduced the size of its bug backlog by at least 3X
  • Access control delivers on its commitments 100 percent of the time
  • Customers/stakeholders appreciate the chance to provide feedback during the process—instead of at the end

Best Practices:

  • Get help – Especially early on, partner with a consultant
  • Train leadership – JCI trained resource managers, product management, and directors to get buy-in before moving forward
  • Train SPCs – They serve as change agents and coaches
  • Follow progress – JCI used automated Agile dashboards in Team Foundation Server

The partner that made it happen:

Introduction

Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI), a global diversified technology leader, serves customers in more than 150 countries and reports $30 billion in annual revenue. The company’s access control division develops systems to help buildings achieve maximum security while increasing efficiency and lowering costs.

Johnson Controls - a Case Study of Implementing SAFe

Developing access control systems demands that firmware and software teams work together to deliver on a coordinated schedule. At JCI, those teams are spread across Southern California, Milwaukee, and India.

In 2014, the division began an effort targeted at improving time-to-market and the predictability of releases. They also sought to identify quality issues sooner, increase transparency, and raise team engagement.

“We were having very little success at planning, predicting releases and committing to and delivering on the timeline,” explained David Richter, Director of Engineering, Access Control. “We wanted to increase our flexibility and ability to react to change, and our ability to react to our customers’ needs in a positive and respectful manner.”
But Richter and other change agents knew they would have to contend with several roadblocks along the path to transformation:

  • Changing the established paradigm of working in waterfall
  • Aligning teams in three disparate locations

Taking the SAFe route

JCI identified the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) as the most promising route for instilling lasting Lean-Agile practices.

“SAFe brought all the practices for us to start and then learn and adapt as we go,” said Rajbir Bal, Program Manager, Access Control. “It also forced us to have tough discussions early and throughout development—versus down the road when we got close to release.”

To gain leadership backing, the Director of Engineering gave decision-makers clear reasons for deploying SAFe and the expected outcomes. Concurrently, Scaled Agile Gold Partner Icon Agility Services trained leaders in Leading SAFe® so they would fully understand the Framework. This worked well as change agents succeeded in securing executive backing.

They followed with Leading SAFe® for directors, product managers, and resource managers, bringing together 15 individuals from California, Milwaukee, and India. Next, they defined the structure of the various teams that would begin the first Agile Release Train (ART), and put all team members through SAFe® for Teams training.

Two individuals, including Bal, earned certification as SAFe® Program Consultants (SPCs) in order to serve as change agents and coaches. Following certification, they became authorized to deliver SAFe® Scrum Master, SAFe for Teams, and SAFe® for Product Owner/Product Manager training.

In addition to Bal, other coaches included engineering managers and the director of engineering, while Scrum Masters became coaches at the team level. When it was apparent that Scrum Masters and Product Owners had an overlap of responsibility, or at least their understanding of it, Bal brought them together in one location for a custom Product Owner/Scrum Master workshop to clarify roles and responsibilities.

Navigating the path to alignment

In 2015, JCI launched its first ART at a Program Increment (PI) Planning meeting with about 100 people and followed Essential SAFe. Bal and others knew they were taking the first steps toward progress, however, early planning events felt chaotic.

“The first two PIs were not fun and we did not come out with committed plans,” Bal said. “Some features were not well defined, people were not clear on the process, and we needed more time to break down user stories.”

Bal attributes the discord to a couple of factors. The company included some user interface teams in that first ART, but not others, which caused misalignment. Geographic distribution also created challenges.

For more cohesive teams, they tried several approaches. First, they brought representatives from India to present on behalf of their teams. However, in doing so, they lacked the voices of those not in attendance.

Johnson Controls - a Case Study of Implementing SAFe

Instead, they decided to start concurrent planning in the U.S. and India, with India beginning 12 hours ahead due to the time zone differences. As teams in India complete their planning days, those in the U.S. come in early to overlap with them. The Indian teams present their planning via videoconference. The same goes for day two of planning. American teams presented in what was the evening for their Indian counterparts.

Richter notes that, in those early months, JCI attempted to modify the Framework. Only some teams attended training and the company followed three-week sprints. “We tried to make changes to SAFe, but that was a disaster,” he said. “After that experience, we then started following SAFe exactly.”

Many people also insisted on continuing lengthy documentation of functional and design specs, after 50 years of following this practice. But that changed over several PIs. “We realized that documentation is not adding value,” Bal said. “Instead, we switched more to flow diagrams and writing code versus paragraph after paragraph of specs.”

With these tweaks, subsequent PIs progressed more smoothly as everyone became accustomed to the ceremonies and practices of SAFe. They made better use of their time at PI planning events. By the third PI, all teams also joined the train.

Over time, JCI found it more feasible to modify the framework to its own processes. In the access control division, developers must follow a specific process. They found that SAFe allowed them to implement Lean-Agile methods that worked in conjunction with these required processes. Other modifications included concurrent planning for India and the U.S., and face-to-face meetings between Product Owners and Scrum Masters to walk through the features radiator.

Acting like ‘One Big Team’

Richter and Bal saw a number of positive outcomes emerge during the transformation:

  • Increased ownership – Entire teams committed to goals in PI planning and delivered on those goals
  • Less technical debt – Issues were identified earlier in development, which allowed for course corrections along the way, instead of at the end of development
  • Greater participation – All levels joined in, including business partners and architecture
  • Earlier decisions – Using the Lean Startup Cycle, they make go/no-go decisions sooner in the cycle than they had before practicing SAFe
  • More automation – Automation reduced the overhead of testing and corrects quality issues earlier
  • Enhanced transparency – People bring up issues sooner, rather than at the end of a PI
  • Greater teamwork – Inter-team collaboration improved as well, with individuals reaching out to help others when needed

“We started acting like one big team, instead of a bunch of teams of teams,” Bal said. “We saw more engagement at all levels.”

Driving time-to-market, quality, predictability

Johnson Controls - a Case Study of Implementing SAFe

After early growing pains, JCI began seeing the results of its efforts:

  • Faster time-to-market – The division releases at least 2-4X more frequently than before
  • Higher quality – JCI reduced the size of its bug backlog by at 3 times
  • Predictability – Access control delivers on its commitments 100 percent of the time
  • Customer satisfaction – Customers appreciate the chance to provide feedback during the process—instead of at the end

“This wasn’t an easy process for us,” Bal said. “It takes time getting everyone jelling PI over PI. But SAFe brings so much more engagement, which has really been key for all parties. I wouldn’t want to do it any other way.”

For more details on JCI’s Essential SAFe implementation, download the supplemental PowerPoint presentation.

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Suggested Case Study:

Deutsche Bhan

EdgeVerve Systems – Scaled Agile Framework for IT

“SAFe was the right fit because of the dynamics and goals at EdgeVerve. It helps bring the alignment and cultural change needed to deliver faster results in an organization with many dependencies across products.”

Dr. Ronen Barnahor, Head of Agile Business Transformation, EdgeVerve Systems

Challenge:

With releases every 6-18 months, the company set a goal of further improving time-to-market, quality, flexibility, and predictability.

Industry:

Information Technology

Results:

  • Release time improved by 50 – 66%
  • Planning every 10 weeks sharpens predictability
  • Feature cycle time went down by 50 percent
  • The cost per feature point dropped by eight percent from one PI to the next
  • Reduction in escaped defects and increased customer satisfaction

Best Practices:

  • Managers first – By beginning training with managers, EdgeVerve gained essential buy-in that helped influence the C-level and team level
  • Merging Testing and Engineering – Bringing these groups together reduced what were distinct silos
  • Common cadence – EdgeVerve kept everyone on a common cadence, even before bringing all teams into the Framework
  • Hybrid model of implementation – ARTs and managers of non-ARTs aligned on the same cadence and planning activities

Introduction

Banks across 94 countries, serving 848 million consumers, rely on Finacle, an industry-leading universal banking suite from EdgeVerve Systems Ltd. A wholly-owned subsidiary of the global IT company, Infosys, EdgeVerve develops software products that enable businesses across multiple industries to innovate, accelerate growth, and have deeper connections with stakeholders. Gartner and Forrester consistently name EdgeVerve at the top of their rankings for banking platforms.

In 2015, the company set an aggressive goal of improving time-to-market, quality, flexibility, and predictability.

SAFe: a framework for faster results

Scaled Agile Framework for IT

For guidance, the management brought on Dr. Ronen Barnahor, now Head of Agile Business Transformation. Barnahor recommended the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) to help instigate real change, quickly.

“Our mission is to adopt a Lean and Agile mindset and practices, and become a learning organization focused on continuous improvement to provide better value to our customers,” Barnahor says. “SAFe was the right fit because of the dynamics and goals at EdgeVerve. It helps bring the alignment and cultural change needed to deliver faster results in an organization with many dependencies across products.”

Prior to adopting SAFe, the teams at EdgeVerve were working in cadence, however, their approach wasn’t effective in meeting new organizational goals.

Building a coalition from the ground up

To bolster internal buy-in, EdgeVerve appointed Jasdeep Singh Kaler, an AVP and 20-year veteran of the company, to help Barnahor lead the effort. Through a contest, the transformation earned the name “Mach 1”—a nod to the importance of speed.

In alignment with SAFe, EdgeVerve began with training, choosing first to focus specifically on managers. VPs and directors, and about 30 leads across all functional areas attended two days of Leading SAFe®. The training created buzz about the transformation and gave the C-level confidence that moving to SAFe was accepted by internal leaders. By the end of the class, participants signaled they were ready to move forward with SAFe, with confidence scores of 4 and 5.

With positive feedback from leaders, C-level executives attended a one-day management workshop that included principles from Leading SAFe. There, they set implementation goals and approved the new direction. Knowing they would begin with the Finacle banking solution, they identified dependencies, defined all Value Streams and established who would join in the first two Agile Release Trains (ARTs).

“This was a crucial meeting with leads from product strategy, delivery, architecture, and testing, to help them embrace the concepts of the Value Stream and the ART, optimize the whole process, gain a systems view, decentralize decisions, and more,” Barnahor says.

Quick Wins

Scaled Agile Framework for IT

In April 2016, EdgeVerve kicked off the first Program Increment (PI) using SAFe with a 2-day planning meeting in Bangalore, India. The event brought together 60 individuals from multiple locations across India. The CTO attended, sending a message about the importance of the change for EdgeVerve.

In subsequent ART launches and PI planning events, the heads of engineering, product strategy, product management and other senior leaders participated with great commitment—bolstering the adoption at a grassroots level.

The event itself excited and motivated team members: “We had fun as a team in PI planning and that enabled us to do better work,” says one team member.

Hybrid implementation model—ARTs + Non-ARTs

As the company launched two ARTs, it did so with just two coaches. For that reason, EdgeVerve continued running non-SAFe teams on the same cadence—in what it calls a “hybrid model.”

“We didn’t have the coaching capacity to structure everyone into SAFe, but they all aligned on the same cadence with a centralized backlog,” Barnahor explains.

While EdgeVerve began implementing SAFe, managers of other products outside of ARTs were trained concurrently in Program-level activities.
Under the hybrid approach, all product teams (ARTs and non-ARTs) aligned in several ways:

  • The same cadence (sprints and PI)
  • Working in IBM Rational Team Concert
  • Pre-planning + PI Planning (For non-ARTs, only managers joined in PI planning)
  • Execution (For non-ARTs, there was no coaching. Leads managed the work as previously but with a focus on demos in cadence with ARTs.)
  • Product and solution-level demos
  • Retrospectives (In non-ARTs, only managers joined.)

“The hybrid model of implementation of a full ART plus managers first in non-ART teams contributed to faster alignment and predictability across products within the integrated banking solution,” Barnahor says.

Very quickly, teams began delivering on cadence, demonstrating early value to management. SAFe also sharpened visibility, enabling them to predict more accurately. As a result, the Product Management Organization began to understand the power of “velocity” as a prediction metric and began using the Agile dashboard that EdgeVerve developed.

Changing the Culture

As EdgeVerve launched trains, the company concurrently focused heavily on changing the culture, with the belief that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” According to Kaler, since EdgeVerve focused on ‘managers first,’ these individuals became key influencers in the cultural change. The main focus was around breaking the silos, establishing common ownership on quality, managing and improving through data, and an emphasis on outcome and business value instead of on utilization.

The new, common terminology of SAFe (ARTs, ceremonies, and cadence) ensured everyone spoke the same language. With a common language, they could more easily understand expectations and minimize misunderstandings.

“From a change management perspective, everyone understood that EdgeVerve had embarked on something important at the organizational level that is based on a proven industry framework,” Barnahor says. “We had fewer arguments on definitions. I told them, ‘Let’s adapt SAFe definitions and practices, observe the impact on the ground during execution, and then change. Why reinvent the wheel?’”

Scaled Agile Framework for IT

The company also altered its success measures to help influence behavior, asking questions such as…

  • Are we delivering desired value to customers?
  • Are we on time? If not, when can we deliver the committed scope?
  • Are we on scope? If not, what we will not deliver on due date?
  • Are we on top of quality?
  • Are we on flow? Any bottlenecks? Starvation? Backlog readiness for the next PI? What is the average cycle time?
  • Can we predict well?
  • How do employees feel about the change?

As attitudes changed, EdgeVerve collected feedback from the field and shared positive comments from team members and managers widely on posters and in videos—with the goal of spreading enthusiasm.

Additionally, the company adjusted the organizational structure to support the change. From developer to head of engineering, EdgeVerve reduced the number of organizational layers from seven layers to just four layers.

Perhaps the biggest difference came in moving the distinct testing organization, which was under delivery, into engineering—a decision that quickly improved relations between developers and testers. In line with SAFe, testing also now happens concurrently with development with greater focus on acceptance automation.

Reducing cycle time, increasing quality

Today, the company runs eight ARTs with approximately 800 people across three value streams and one portfolio. They launch a new ART every six weeks. At the same time, they run five teams of teams that are not part of the SAFe transformation.

Less than a year after deploying SAFe, EdgeVerve reported significant gains:

  • Reduced time-to-market – For large enterprise products, release time dropped from 12 – 18 months to six months, and for small products, from six months to three months
  • Improved predictability – The company plans consistently every 10 weeks, which increases flexibility for changing scope with minimal cost
  • Expedited feature speed – Feature cycle time went down by 50 percent
  • Elevated efficiency – The cost per feature point dropped by eight percent from one PI to the next
  • Fewer defects – The company significantly improved early detection of defects, leading to fewer escaped defects and increased customer satisfaction

Dissolving silos

As the PIs progressed, team members could clearly see the advantages of the new approach. Most notably, communication and collaboration improved, with evidence that silos were dissolving.

“The way teams were working, even a minor downtime was clearly a cascading effect in the team’s progress,” says one team member. “Teams identified it, they came up with solutions, and they worked together.

Scaled Agile Framework for IT

“If code was not working, we got the right contacts, spoke to the code team and got the issue resolved,” says another team member. “This is a big change from the software developer’s perspective on how they approach their work.”

“The developer-tester relationship was better,” says another. “You can directly check with them for the issues you’re facing.”
Additionally, anonymous participant surveys reflected progress. The company asked approximately 300 people about the impact of SAFe. Most notably, there was an 89% improvement in trust and communication across different functions while 73% believe that SAFe helped increase productivity/throughput.

Even as EdgeVerve sees positive results and culture shifts, transformation leaders find it is an ongoing process. With demonstrated results, they gained backing to hire more coaches. Looking ahead, the main challenge, Barnahor says, is middle management’s mind-set—transforming managers to act as Agile leaders and mentors to the teams by focusing on an Agile leadership program.

“It’s a transformation of hearts and minds,” Kaler says. “We made sure that managers believed in what we’re doing and slowly the culture is changing.”

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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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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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