Agile Transformation to Increase Speed-to-Market

The client is an electrical equipment provider offering a variety of products that help organizations have controlled, quality delivery of power.

The Challenge

The client provides energy and automation digital solutions for efficiency and sustainability, combining leading energy technologies, real-time automation, software and services into integrated solutions for homes, buildings, data centers, and infrastructure. Eliassen Group specifically engaged with the department that provides widely ranging sizes of circuit breakers.

The client has been slow to bring products to market. They have a long stage gate process that can take 5-8 years to get through, if they make it through at all. Upon hiring a former employee of a direct competitor, the client learned that the competitor was able to bring products to market in 18 months. The client wanted to achieve the same product delivery speed. This new employee assembled a small team with Agile implementation experience with the goal of introducing Agile to the client’s internal teams. The client is concerned that, if they are unable to accelerate their 5-8 year process, they will not last the next 10-20 years.

The Solution

Upon designation as their training partner, we focused on teams made up of 200 people across 4 different locations. Everyone in the organization needed to be trained and teams needed to be launched. Across the 200 employees, 3 or 4 had some level of Agile certification, some had heard about it, but everyone was largely new to working in an Agile way. Also, these were cyber-physical products (aka products that had both hardware and embedded software involved) so special considerations were needed to help make Agile work, especially helping to shift legacy mindsets on how to develop physical products.

Each initial visit from the EG team consisted of 2 days of Agile Whole Team Training, 1 day of Team Launching, and 1 day of Backlog Workshop. After each of the 4 sites had their visit, each site then received 2 follow-up visits to help understand how they were performing, identify issues that were impacting them, and make any adjustments to aid in their success. For each team in each location, we would look at the sprint boundary events and review metrics captured. Sprint boundary events are:

  • Closing out a sprint with Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective
  • Opening up a new sprint with Backlog Refinement and Sprint Planning

The EG plan of action involved Agile Whole Team Training, Team Launching, Backlog Workshops, and Follow-Up Coaching. We used Burndown, Burnup, and Cumulative Flow diagrams to visualize workflow, necessary multitasking, and velocity of delivery for each team. Through this process we were able to determine pain points within the team, such as interrupts, multitasking, low process efficiency, a slow phase gate process, and long lead and cycle times. Quantifying the suffering from these problems with tangible data allowed us to take specific steps to improve outcomes.

The Result

The client has seen impressive results in just 4 months, which include early completion for multiple scheduled releases, faster and better-informed adjustments, manageable backlogs and increased clarity of prioritization, and successful implementation of a kanban board. The client is adopting Agile practices at impressive speed, plans to invest in continued Agile coaching, and expand Agile across the company under our guidance.

Tools Utilized

  • All teams tracked backlog and metrics on either spreadsheets or on MS Planner.
  • The team is transitioning to Jira standardization.