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SAFe® helps one of the largest companies in the world deliver next-gen TV product, 33% faster to market


Posted by
Phil McCormick

November 7, 2019

Leading an agile transformation in a large company is a complex project. Our SPC consultants team is used to managing this type of scenario. We interviewed Dean MacNeil, SPC (SAFe® Program Consultant) at Valiantys to share his feedback on one of his biggest SAFe® projects with Jira Align. Read now to learn some valuable tips and inspiration.

Background

Fortune 10 telecom seeks to revitalize with state-of-the art digital entertainment streaming platform.

The Challenge

The challenge was to develop a “Next Generation” entertainment product that was unprecedented in the industry. Combining satellite television, high speed internet, WiFi and mobile all on a single universal platform.

This task could not be accomplished without several different development organizations coming together, as a cohesive group of teams, working in the same framework with a common set of methods and practices.

Scoping the solution

Present at the start of the transformation, MacNeil was an independent consultant at the time of the project and says “It was an exciting time. It was evident from the start that leadership sought agility, and I knew that SAFe® would be a good fit.” MacNeil joined the committee that chose SAFe® among the many Agile scaling frameworks explored, then volunteered to serve as Scrum Master for the team that selected and implemented the tools to support the new way of working. “We merged the agile mindset with an agile toolset,” MacNeil states enthusiastically. “Although we started with sticky notes on the wall, we quickly realized that an undertaking of this magnitude required advanced tools to support full organizational agility and alignment from the enterprise to the team level.

Solutions

  • SAFe®
  • Jira Align
  • Jira Software
  • Confluence
  • BitBucket
  • HipChat (no longer available)

Adopting SAFe® 

Key to this monumental undertaking was obtaining not only support, but a high level of engagement from top leadership, who all attended the Leading SAFe® class in early 2016. Once they learned the benefits of SAFe®, it was easy for them to commit and lead by example. They then attended the same big room training as their teams, concurrent with the launching of the first Agile Release Train (ART).

In early 2016, the client chose SAFe® 3.0, Jira Software, Confluence, BitBucket, and HipChat (no longer available). While scaling from one to four ARTs (Agile Release Trains) in the course of only three Program Increments, the company upsized to the new SAFe® 4.0 and Jira Align (then known as AgileCraft). This supported the very large and complex undertaking with four levels of product delivery: Epics, Capabilities, Features, and Stories.

The company invested heavily in training and coaching to support the effort. Over the course of a year, the composition shifted from external consultants to a highly engaged team of internal Agile Coaches, most of them SAFe® Program Consultants (SPCs) and Scaled Agilists (SAs), acting as frontline change agents in support of the multitude of product development teams.

The Results and ROI 

In one year’s time, the company realized several benefits. The new OTT product was in the hands of paid customers, 33% faster than the previous best case scenario . Multiple Legacy systems that receive and process TV signals for distribution were replaced by scalable micro-services to support the full range of media delivery platforms (Mobile, IPTV, OTT, IOT, etc.) and realize faster deployments and automated testing.

After initial launch, the platform grew to 2 million subscribers and provided numerous additional business and customer benefits such as cross-platform advertising, cloud DVR, and a highly personalized and tailored individual experience leveraging Big Data.

  • 33% faster time to market for new product development
  • Customer request cycle time greatly reduced, in some cases from 6+ months to 6 weeks
  • Removal of departmental silos providing greater openness and flow of value delivery
  • More frequent integration and customer feedback
  • Ability to deliver the right product at the right time
  • Higher level of employee engagement

Continuous Improvement

With all of the realized benefits, speed to market continues to increase since SAFe® adoption. MacNeil continued to follow the company after his contract ended and states “I’m happy to see that time-to-market has continued to improve from 33 to 37 to 45 percent.”

MacNeil’s top takeaways for a successful Scaled Agile transformation:

  • Align ARTs to value streams—This will maximize flow of business value and may take a few PIs to optimize. Use Jira Align to visualize dependencies.
  • Obtain buy-in from enterprise to team level—Use an invitation-based approach to increase engagement. Invest in training and coaching.
  • Build an internal coaching discipline—Create a sustainable agile capability as part of a Lean-Agile Center of Excellence.