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Agile Odyssey: Case Study of Agile Adoption within A Health Insurance Company


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Presentation by Alston Hodge (CSC) at the AgileIndy Conference on March 8, 2013.

Presentation by Alston Hodge (CSC) at the AgileIndy Conference on March 8, 2013.

Published in: Business

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  • 1. An Agile Odyssey: A Case Study of Agile Adoptionwithin a Health Insurance Company Alston Hodge, Agile Coach 2013 AgileIndy Conference March 8, 2013
  • 2. My first week on the job... • “Our metrics do not show that Scrum is any better than waterfall.” – IT director • “I’m not sure Agile really works for us.” – IT manager • “So glad you’re here to tell us what we are doing wrong.” - ScrumMaster
  • 3. Agenda• History• Assessment – Findings – Anti-Scrum Patterns – Root Causes – Impacts to the insurance company• Fixing the Problems• Lessons Learned
  • 4. History• Nov 2007 – IT dept established Agile charter• Feb 2008 – IT dept created implementation plan, training campaign, pilot projects• Oct 2008 – IT dept created Agile Community of Practice• Oct 2009 – consulting firm recommended coaches• Apr 2010 – IT dept created Agile Maturity Model• Oct 2010 – BP survey highlighted Agile issues• Apr 2011 – hired first Agile coach, conducted organizational assessment• Oct 2011 – BP survey highlighted Agile issues
  • 5. Organizational Assessment
  • 6. Assessment Topics• Scrum Training?• Following the basic Scrum practices? – Timeboxed work? – Goal of potentially deployable product? – Have a SM and PO? – Team maturity? – Retrospectives? – Demos?
  • 7. Assessment Findings• 55% of people trained (mostly IT)• 53% of projects use some variation of Scrum• 70% global partner utilization• Sampled 35% of Scrum teams (47/136): – 13% (6 teams) practice “true” Scrum – 87% (41 teams) struggle with 4 or more key Scrum principles and practices
  • 8. Anti-Scrum Patterns• Scrum-> Scrum-lite-> O-gile• Mini-waterfall approach• Multiple concurrent projects in Sprints – 83% have 3 or more projects• Teams with few or no retrospectives• Risks not being identified and managed
  • 9. Lowest Lower Higher Highest Attribute Risk Risk Risk RiskTeam Collocated Distributed DistributedDistribution Collocated Part-time Overlap No OverlapProduct Lead multiple POsOwner 1 PO 2 (no lead)ProductComplexity 1 system 2 systems 3 systems 4+ systemsTrue SprintLength 2 wks 4 wks 6 wks 8+ wksProjects per Team 1 2 3 4+Scrum AdvanceExperience Expert Proficient Beginner NoviceXP AdvanceExperience Expert Proficient Beginner NoviceTeam Truly cross- SpecializedStructure functional roles
  • 10. More Anti-Scrum Patterns• SM assumes some responsibilities of PO• No lead Product Owner• Stakeholders not attending demos• Inconsistent use of VersionOne• New teams adopting anti-Scrum habits of early adopters• IT PM, Business PM
  • 11. Product Owner Team Scrum MasterSimple Scrum
  • 12. Product Owner 4 Product Owner 3 Business PMProduct ScrumOwner 2 Team IT PM Scrum SME/Arch Master Product Owner 1
  • 13. And some more….• Individual performance measures• Workload exceeds capacity• Start most/all stories at same time• No sprint goals• No tracking velocity• Teams larger than 12 members• Separate testing from development
  • 14. Sprint Models Model DSUDEV-SIT-UAT DEV-SIT-UAT DEV-SIT-UAT …. Model DS-U DEV + SIT UAT DEV + SIT UAT DEV + SIT UAT Model DDD-S-U DEV DEV DEV …. SIT UAT Model D-S-U . DEV SIT UAT Defects Defects DEV SIT UAT Defects Defects DEV SIT UAT
  • 15. Assessment Findings• Top 10% teams (highest performers): – 93% with only one PO – 1.9 projects per sprint – 7.4 core team members – 6.8 yrs average company experience (POs)• Bottom 10% of teams (failing): – 56% with more than one PO (one with 7 POs!) – 4.6 projects per sprint – 12.1 core members/team – POs with only 1.8 yrs average company experience
  • 16. Root Causes
  • 17. Root Cause 1: Adapting vs. Adopting Scrum• “We need your help to adapt Scrum to fit our culture” – PMO Program Manager• “Perhaps we need to adopt the Values and Principles, and adapt the techniques and practices instead.” – Alston
  • 18. Agile Values and Principles • Already complement our corporate values and principles. • Guide us in our daily decisions. • Are foundational, the core of what we believe to be true about us. • Generally accepted Scrum practices are based on Agile values and principles. • Changing the values and principles de- stabilizes our Scrum framework.
  • 19. Examples• Choosing to not have retrospectives hampers: – Continuous improvement – Transparency – Sustainable development• Not tracking velocity hampers: – Continuous improvement – Transparency – Sustainable development
  • 20. Root Cause 2: Adoption Viewed as an IT campaign, not a company campaign• Initiated and supported as IT campaign• Business partners not fully understanding the implications: – PO develops the backlog – PO prioritizes based on business value – PO approves story completion – PO decides when to release With Agile, the Business is in the driver’s seat!
  • 21. IT left with un-answered Questions • Service Provider vs. Business Partner • IT projects vs. Business projects • What to do with PMs? • Scrum-> Scrum-lite-> O-gile?
  • 22. Root Cause 3: Accelerated Contract/Offshore Utilization• 2008 – 60% company, 40% contractor• 2011 – 30% company, 70 % contractor• Source of business innovation cut in half
  • 23. Look at the numbers• US health insurance experience – 160+ years as an industry – Over 80% of Americans with healthcare insurance today• India’s health insurance experience – 12 years experience in industry – Less than 6% with healthcare insurance (as of 2010)
  • 24. Root Cause 4: ADD – Agile Deficit Disorder• Symptoms – Difficulty in focusing – Hard to develop self-discipline (team & organizational) – Commitment issues – Scrum Buts – Resistance to Transparency – Workload exceeds capacity “We need to take on this additional work because it is important. But it goes without saying that we can’t let anything fall off the plate.” – IT manager
  • 25. Impacts to theInsurance Company
  • 26. Collaboration Challenges• Agile Community of Practice stalled• Increasing collaboration issues• Increase turnover (company, vendors) in some areas• Decline in Partnership survey scores – Innovation – Communications – Ownership• Increased use of PMs (IT and Business)
  • 27. Fixin’ the Problems
  • 28. Update the training• Use experienced SMs and Pos as trainers• Focus more on the “Why” of key Scrum concepts• Lots of new resources available now• Address the common Anti-Scrums• Introduce eXtreme Programming – Continuous integration – Paired programming – Automated testing
  • 29. Key Concepts of Scrum• Transparency • Prioritize Business• Commitment Value• Continuous • Incremental Improvement development• Collaboration • Minimal documentation• Discipline • Sustainable pace• Stop.Inspect.Adapt • Iterative development• Cross-functional teams • Swarming• Retrospectives • Sprint planning • Product Demos
  • 30. Re-build the Agile Community • Coach’s Corner • BUZZ (internal social media) • Tips and Tricks (12 guidelines) • Agile tract in Learning Week • Monthly Corporate Scrum Gatherings • Agile Team of the Year Award • Louisville Agile Forum • Partner with regional Agile groups
  • 31. Coaches CoachesCoaches Coaches CoachesCoaches Coaches
  • 32. Promote Value of Coaching• organizationally agnostic - not subject to the same pecking order, enabling them to tell the hard truths that may need to be said• help teams develop self-discipline and good habits• provide needed on-the-job learning and mentoring opportunities soon after training
  • 33. Training with Coaching Coaching
  • 34. Promote Value of Coaching • Challenge teams to address the difficulties they face rather than sweep them under the rug. • bring both tried and new practices and processes to the team and organization reducing the degree of trial and error. • bring an outside view of the organization, team and individuals and remove intrinsic bias and interpersonal issues.
  • 35. “Grow your Own” Coach• Internal coach program – 6 months to “coach the coach” – Full time commitment – Workload of 12-15 teams – Already knows the business• Limitations – Agile experience limited to one company – Not organizationally agnostic – No previous coaching experience
  • 36. Educate Business leadership• Find the champions• Educate top down and bottom up• 30 minute intro to Scrum• Provide Product Owner learning plan• Solicit their help to champion Scrum• Sell the idea of external coaches• Help Business “take back the reins”.
  • 37. Educate IT leadership• Find the champions• Provide Agile PM learning plan• Address the unanswered questions: – Are we a Service Provider or Partner? – How to develop Agile PMs? – Do we understand and accept the risk of offshoring? – Are we serious about Scrum adoption?
  • 38. Treat the ADD• Guidance of prioritizing projects/features• Help teams develop self-discipline• Educate on myth of multi-tasking
  • 39. Address Collaboration Issues • Lack of trust - team building exercises • Triangulation – Painters Pyramid – Matthew 18 • 360˚ Surveys • Monthly joint meetings
  • 40. Agile AdoptionLessons Learned
  • 41. LLs for the Company• Involve the Business from beginning• Utilize external coaches for first year• Honor Scrum values & principles – Be transparent – Be honest
  • 42. LLs for an Agile Coach• You can lead a horse to water…• Culture is hardest to change.• Got to know when to quit.
  • 43. A company has to decide for itself…• Do you want to be a Guppy or an Olympic Swimmer?
  • 44. Product Owner 4 Product Owner 3 Business PMProduct ScrumOwner 2 Team IT PM Scrum SME/Arch Master Product Owner 1
  • 45. Product Owner 4 ProductProduct Owner 3Owner 2 Business PM Lead Product Owner Scrum Team Scrum Master SME/Arch IT PM
  • 46. Questions?
  • 47. Contact me!•• Twitter: @alstonhodge• Join me each month at the Louisville Agile Forum – Farm Credit Mid-America (1601 UPS Drive, Louisville) – 4th Wednesdays (6PM)• Call me at 502-631-3175