Technology has changed the way consumers interact with financial services companies. By the mid-2010’s, new technology was being introduced regularly by rising competition from inside and outside the industry, giving us many more banking options with low switching costs. Add the pressure of industry regulation, global trends, and customer demands, and every financial institution was faced with a digital transformation.
The case was no different for the large national financial services firm that came to AgilityHealth® in 2017. Even with Agile practices in place for more than seven years, they were not realizing the value of that investment. Outside coaches came and went, but did not implement scalable or repeatable practices.
There was no consistent measurement strategy. Capacity to support demand was an issue with the need to get products to market before the competition. Senior leaders were left extremely frustrated, at a loss as to why they were not realizing all the reported benefits of Agile.
A newly-hired chief agilist introduced AgilityHealth® as an experiment. In a few weeks, the continuous improvement leadership team launched their baseline assessment and had a comprehensive readout from 100+ teams that identified the top areas for improvement. By systematically addressing the top challenges over the following year, Agile teams matured by 8 percent and realized a $100M return on investment.
Maturity + Performance = Agility
Agile maturity and performance both saw significant increases over the four quarters, resulting in an 9.7% rise in overall agility. Gains in maturity not only impacted productivity, teams experienced higher product quality, greater predictability, shorter times to market, and happier customers.
With fierce competition in a strong tech market, our large financial services customer was quickly trying to align the demands of business priorities to their tech capacity before being outplayed by competitors. The answer was thought to be investing in Agile practices, but that strategy did not seem to be paying off.
Business was pressed to keep up with ever-rising customer demands. Technology teams were tasked to hire for funded business initiatives, but many of these initiatives had no clear roadmap or backlog. Teams were in constant flux and the ongoing changes made for unstable, unpredictable teams. The question of the hour was, “How can we get more output from existing capacity?” Their stated goals included:
- Prove the ROI of Agile investments.
- Get capacity aligned with the highest priority initiatives.
- Stop building new teams before completely standing up existing teams.
- Don’t build teams without clear goals or a roadmap.
- Remove waste within the teams and become more predictable and productive.
- Measure improvements and demonstrate success in both alignment and value delivery to the business.
Roll-out AgilityHealth® TeamHealth® radar. AgilityHealth facilitators were trained and the very first big-room AgilityHealth facilitation session was conducted with more than 100 teams. After six weeks of internal analysis and discovery, the continuous improvement leaders found key roadblocks which were impeding success across the organization:
- Little to no clarity existed on long-term roadmaps, processes, and near-term backlogs.
- Lack of sufficient backlog grooming often resulted in high churn during sprints.
- Teams were dependent on outside items not in their control. Work was not as ready as they thought, therefore reprioritized mid-sprint, creating delays in value delivery.
- Team alignment and stability was lacking.
- Lack of accountability meant problems persisted instead of being addressed.
Leaders now had what they needed to take action:
- A repeatable process for collecting and measuring continuous improvement efforts.
- Clear understanding of where teams stood on their Agile journey.
- Comprehensive readout from TeamHealth® baseline assessment results showing where individual team members thought improvement was needed from leaders and within their teams.
The top areas of improvement were synonymous with information collected during inspect and adapt exercises over the previous two years:
- Vision and roadmaps
- People leadership
- Predictable delivery
- Creativity and innovation
- Impediment management
Yet nothing had been done to resolve the identified issues as leaders did not trust the data until it came from the voice of the teams via AgilityHealth.
The proof was in the numbers that demonstrate Increases in Overall Team Agility (maturity + performance) at scale. When teams become more Agile, they perform at higher levels. Teams reported more transparency and higher business value.
Leaders took to heart the obstacles raised up by the teams, and worked to eliminate them. Additionally, metrics from AgilityHealth® coincided with data from the company-wide all employee survey and underscored findings from previous “inspect and adapt” sessions. Over the course of a year, more than 100 teams were transforming. Leadership had changed how they were speaking about the importance of healthy, high performing teams and understood their role in removing the obstacles identified by the teams, setting them up for future success.
- Leadership numbers improved overall by double digits — not something we see with every customer. People management increased an average of 13 percent.
- Clarity in planning jumped 10 percent.
- Once backlogs aligned to the roadmap, teams saw a 9 percent gain in predictability and a 6 percent gain in time to market. The numbers represent achievements across 100+ teams overall.
- Some teams increased the delivery of Epics by 267 percent, and scaled overall delivery by 32 percent.
Additional leadership gains
In less than six months, leaders had actionable metrics that showed the health and maturity of teams and they could see what was getting in the way of the teams’ success. Language and actions shifted to solving the organizational growth items (OGI) that were of the highest priority to their teams. In fact, several leaders came to trust the comments and results of the TeamHealth® radar over the company-wide all employee survey as TeamHealth provided actionable feedback and tangible ways to measure improvement opportunities.
Other team improvements
After integrating AgilityHealth® over the course of one year, teams began to feel momentum and became more productive and predictive. With additional clarity around their work and with impediments removed, the teams spent much less time completing tasks and managing mid-sprint dependencies.
The organization standardized on AgilityHealth® TeamHealth® for measurement and the platform remains at the epicenter of their continuous improvement program. By leveraging AgilityHealth® for measurement and visualizing business outcomes:
- The organization is launching higher quality products that better address customer needs and wants.
- Leaders trust the process and realize the value of their Agile investment.
What’s next? An enterprise transformation does not stop with the first rounds of assessments. Like other Fortune 500 companies, this organization plans to continue scaling the growth and maturity across the enterprise. Ongoing continuous improvement plans include:
- Increase the momentum and build on the learnings and outcomes already achieved.
- Introduce AgilityHealth on an individual role basis. Accelerate the development of Agile skills by measuring individual role maturity across defined competencies.
- Continue to balance technical capacity with an emphasis on maintaining stable, cross-functional teams to create features that delight customers and enable the business to grow.
- Ensure data integrity so that tracking items such as Structural Agility (creating and tracking agile team structures that support business outcomes) are possible and accurate.
- Leverage AgilityHealth’s Insights Dashboard to get an overall view of maturity based on where they’ve been, where they are now, and how they can get where they want to be tomorrow.