A large member-based financial services firm began using AgilityHealth® in 2016 as part of their Business Agility journey. They started small, but once users began sharing the success, AgilityHealth gained momentum. Incrementally, AgilityHealth has extended to 17 different programs and 100+ teams.
Here we capture the progress of one portfolio consisting of 24 teams: How they embraced the TeamHealth® Radar as a way to measure the investment in Agile practices and how they incrementally made improvements.
Maturity + Performance = Agility
From early 2019 to early 2020, team Performance, Maturity, and overall Agility all showed improvements.
Agile principles are not new anymore. From small startups to Global 2000 companies, businesses of every type are transforming with the magic of Agile practices. We work with a large, well-funded, member-based financial services organization known for outstanding service. And like many others, they had implemented Agile among information technology teams, but were not quite seeing the value.
An internal survey tool tracked progress, but it measured only activity and outputs, was not Agile-focused, and was not scalable. So they were seeking a way to see the big picture, scale from team assessments to the portfolio level–and beyond–and needed data to present to senior leaders. AgilityHealth filled the gaps and paved the way for continuous improvement.
The internal champions of Agile and AgilityHealth knew that measurement was a necessity to the success of their Agile investments and to scaling efforts beyond IT teams. In addition, clearing the obstacles to improve value to their client base was imperative to increasing satisfaction and service, one of their core values.
The internal measurement tool was not providing the holistic information needed:
- Was not Agile-focused.
- Did not address the quality or value of work being done.
- Measured output rather than outcomes.
- Flow was absent.
- Quality assurance was outsourced so control was lost there.
- Provided zero visibility of clarity, speed-to-market, lead-time-to-value, or feature throughput.
The roadmap was not obvious to teams. Individual development teams were agile, but there was no concrete plan to expand across the enterprise. They were never going to reap business outcomes this way.
The champions wanted to scale Agile and really desired to help leaders understand portfolio management. They sought synchronization for seeing Agile spread across all business and IT teams, but needed cadence and transparency. There were issues within teams as well: They worked in silos and were not aligned with each other. And, although they were practicing all the Agile ceremonies and processes, no one really understood why.
Cost efficiencies were lost as there was little accountability around budget spend. Above all, this large financial company had a fiduciary responsibility to its customers. It desperately needed a way to measure everything and provide progressive visibility to leadership ASAP.
Once teams adopted AgilityHealth and began to implement the TeamHealth® assessment radars, they began removing impediments, working with more clarity, and producing higher quality products in less time. Starting with just four teams, this service-focused organization immediately felt the value.
Secondly, they introduced lean portfolio management (LPM) with the Enterprise Business Agility® model. In doing so, they established a quarterly cadence for outcomes and key results (OKR) planning across the 12 release trains.
- Identified the teams and prioritized work.
- Recognized how goals and programs align.
- Stood up ceremonies.
- Focused on capacity.
- Created an LPM group.
- Implemented quarterly portfolio planning: Shifted focus from outputs to outcomes!
- Provided leadership coaching.
At the start, their desired outcomes were:
- Increase value delivery by boosting velocity, predictability and responsiveness.
- Improve team conformance to digital transformation requirements.
- Expand product managers/owners lean product management practices.
- Establish a functioning method for addressing impediments above the team level.
- Increase coach’s Agile practice skills and knowledge.
“The AgilityHealth team was a great asset,” IT technical director.
AgilityHealth accelerated the business agility journey. An AgilityHealth implementation is both scalable and repeatable and allowed them to dig deep and uncover the real underlying reasons things were not as efficient and productive as desired.
AgilityHealth provided cadence and transparency. Most importantly it helped individuals understand “why Agile”. And it gave them the tools and processes needed to scale Agile practices to the portfolio levels. Leaders could consequently assess patterns across release trains and resolve organizational impediments to help trains and teams become high performing.
Teams went from measuring outputs to outcomes. Outcomes here included products/epics achievable with the help of AgilityHealth:
- Home-grown AI-enabled chat tool for the website that saves time, avoids phone calls with representatives when a simple answer is sought, and ramps up customer satisfaction.
- Internal AWS implementation.
- Customized Bitly links for customers which resulted in fewer late payments.
Leadership got engaged. Teams began working cross-functionally and less in silos. The company rolled out AgilityHealth incrementally. Once they recognized the benefits, it spread across more and more teams and is now implemented in several business units. Since teams assess themselves, AgilityHealth helped leaders to understand how the teams felt they were doing and how to help.
- Team structure improved.
- Clarity increased around the instability of teams.
- The number of projects in progress decreased.
- Teams felt “more agile”.
- Confidence in leaders went up!
Scaled to the Portfolio Level. One of the goals was to expand Agile practices beyond IT teams. With the help of our SAFe 4.5 Release Train Health radar and the EBA Radar, they were able to do just that. They formalized a strategy by bringing it all together and creating a model to scale agility across business lines and throughout the organization.
- With EBA, teams drive outcomes and respond to market demands.
- Executives better understand and embrace Agile—-and make decisions based on analytics.
- Agile release train leaders now hold quarterly outcomes and key results (OKR) sessions and are prioritizing metrics.
Once users started sharing their success with AgilityHealth, it gained momentum. Incrementally, over four years, AgilityHealth has extended to 17 different programs/release trains. The company is also currently adopting the Enterprise Business Agility Model to scale agility across business lines and throughout the organization.
Our customer-focused customer wanted to stay true to their mission and core values by increasing quality delivered to the market and that happened. Along the way, teams were educated on the benefits of Agile and now better understand “the why” behind the assessments and the investment. Leaders are informed and engaged in removing impediments so that teams can do their best work.