How Shaw Systems Is Benefitting From Agile Transformation
Why Shaw Systems Decided to Pursue Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)®?Shaw Systems’ teams have been agile for a long time now, however our teams were previously working in silos. We wanted to adopt an agile framework to provide more structure, strengthen the alignment between business and technology, and empower our teams to make decisions. This decision drove our focused investment in agile transformation as an initiative for our development organization.
Shaw decided to go with SAFe® because it’s an established system for implementing agile practices at scale. In order to successfully scale agile across our 10 development teams, we needed a well-developed framework that could provide a roadmap while also being flexible enough to meet the unique needs of our company and industry.
In the past year we made the move to adopt Scaled Agile Framework and have seen the advantages of the well-defined approach. It provides a proven playbook for transformation and can help improve employee engagement, time-to-market, team productivity, and the quality of products and solutions. Shaw’s business requires a development process that would deliver efficient customer-valued functionality in a highly predictable manner. Shaw management decided to leverage agile principles so that we can align with leadership's vision of quality and stability.
Shaw’s Agile Transformation Journey and The Challenges We FacedWe think of our agile transformation as a journey. We have really accelerated down this path in the last 12 months and have seen the benefits in our business such as driving faster time to market, better quality, and continuous integration / continuous delivery (CI/CD). Implementing an agile approach at scale in our business is an important evolution in how we run Shaw. Agile allows us to respond to customer needs quicker, create higher staff engagement, and make further improvements in efficiency.
We had many of the classic challenges that software teams of our size and larger face. Although we were agile at the team level, we were still hindered by issues that prevented us from being more efficient at meeting client needs with the quality and speed that we strove to achieve. Without better communication, development teams did not always understand how each piece of the puzzle fit together to create the end goal.
We found ourselves managing multiple releases out of cycle, creating a cadence of work that did not meet Shaw’s standard of quality. We needed our release schedules to allow our clients to better plan around the deliveries of new features and capabilities for their business. Our loan servicing software is highly configurable and over the past 30+ years we have prided ourselves on being able to meet our clients' needs for flexibility in the software solution we provide them with.
One of the key improvements we adopted from the Scaled Agile Framework in our transformation journey is the notion of big room planning, also known as program increment planning. Big room planning is where the entire product development team plans our work and releases in a quarterly cycle, with participation from every member of the development team to brainstorm on the best solutions and address possible impediments that will limit our chance for success.
This approach has steadily enabled us to improve the reliability of our release schedule and the quality of our deliveries, yielding huge benefits in the stability and quality of software we deliver to our clients. In turn this has enabled them to focus on their core business with the knowledge that they can anchor their loan services business on a stable software product and partner.
An agile framework allows us to communicate with each other better, both company wide and with clients. When everyone understands what everyone else is doing, how their work relates to everything else, and what their role in the bigger picture is, it helps us tackle problems and conflicts much better. It has helped each of our associates align together towards accomplishing one shared vision. Our teams spend time up front to understand how something is going to affect everything else.
Using an agile framework has changed the way we review and determine what is the most important and highest priority for the company. It has helped us see what will provide the highest value of work for our clients. Through using vertical integration and agile principles, we have been able to clearly assess what our priorities are and make decisions that benefit our clients and company.
Our agile transition has resulted in delivery of higher quality code, continuous improvement, predictability of delivery, and strengthened relationships between our teams. By scaling our agile methodology, we reinforced the alignment between business and technology, created new roles, and empowered our teams to make decisions. Our teams deliver work faster with improved quality and higher employee engagement across the business.
Agile has allowed us to deliver value incrementally as well. Technology enablement across all aspects of the software development life cycle is enabling faster delivery. Providing the development team with enhanced tools and processes allows for a more streamlined and faster progression through the software development life cycle.
We have modernized our teams by creating cross functional collaboration. Creating a team environment of cross functional collaboration helps us avoid siloed thinking and allows all team members to know what every other team is doing. Our agile ceremonies help everyone understand what everyone else is going to be doing and how each other’s work affects everyone across functional teams. The entire company can work better, react in real time, be nimbler, and is able to collaborate better.
We are in our third program increment and using big room planning to plan together as a team. With each iteration of this cycle, we have become better at identifying risks and issues upfront, delivering high quality software, having a predictable release schedule, and having a faster response to customer needs due to market changes.
These changes have enabled a more engaged workforce of software developers and leaders who are invested in the success of our products. We have also received positive feedback from our clients, who have seen and benefitted from the transformation due to our ability to meet their needs with a trusted and well-tested product.
We have been able to concentrate on innovation, allocating more of our bandwidth to creating features that give our customers a competitive edge in the market. Because of how we are organized today, we can better respond to customer’s needs.
We have moved to a structure that enables us to provide smaller, more consumable deliveries for clients that satisfy requirements, thanks to the predictability of our release schedules and our ability to rapidly respond to client needs. Simply put, we can produce better quality software for clients more quickly.
Benefits of Shaw’s Agile TransformationThe agile process has allowed us to drive innovation within our teams and empowered them to leverage their abilities to build better software. Our whole team works towards the common goal of making life simple for our clients through innovation. We have seen many benefits because of our agile transformation including:
Shaw clients have benefitted from our agile transformation as well. In consuming our most recent releases, clients have found that they are able to adopt the Spectrum product into their production environment quicker due to the successful user acceptance tests which, with each subsequent release, is yielding higher quality development. That means that clients have moved into Production with new releases significantly quicker.
Shaw’s Director, Agile Transformation and Release ManagementThe addition of Ogechi Wachuku as our Director of Agile Transformation and Release Management represents Shaw’s continued focus on quality and innovation. Ogechi graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in Electrical Engineering and he has a master’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.
Prior to accepting this position, he served in multiple technical and leadership roles in companies such as IBM and Lucent, and most recently as part of the Agile Transformation Team at Phillips 66 and at Chevron. He is a certified SAFe Program Consultant and has several other certifications including: SPC, PMP, and CSM.
“In the past year Shaw Systems has experienced an incredible amount of growth and positive change as part of this Agile Transformation. This success has been anchored by the support of Shaw’s leadership team and the Agile teams embracing the process. The agile transformation journey has yielded significant benefits in its early stages for Shaw Systems and our clients. We are very excited about the additional growth, quality, and innovation that this will drive through Shaw products, which in turn will enable our clients to provide products and services that are differentiators in the marketplace.” - Ogechi Wachuku
To learn more about Shaw Systems and our loan servicing software products contact us at email@example.com or 713.782.7730. We look forward to hearing from you!