New Case Study: New Zealand company rebuilds confidence in 6 months with Essential SAFe
“The fact that we delivered for the biggest industry event of the year was hugely motivating and moved us from a negative to a positive spiral. The business was a bit surprised and shocked that we did what we said we would do on something that was quite big and complicated. There’s no way we could have done it without SAFe.”
—Paul Littlefair, CIO, Livestock Improvement Corp.
How do you deliver with confidence when you have an immovable deadline— just six months out—and a history of reworks and overruns? For New Zealand’s Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), Essential SAFe was the answer.
In 2016, LIC was preparing for its biggest annual trade show, Fieldays, which brings together 115,000 farming industry visitors. Everyone within the organization was expecting to deliver a new release of the company’s proprietary herd management system. Yet the newly arrived CIO had serious doubts. The organization had a history of failing to deliver on time or budget.
Gillian Clark, SPCT, recommended that LIC implement SAFe. But given the short timeframe and the team’s unfamiliarity with the Framework, they chose to deploy a subset of SAFe that includes 10 major elements necessary for a successful implementation—otherwise known as Essential SAFe.
Given the urgency, they asked everyone to participate in a PI planning event, including Operations. The CEO likewise attended, which communicated the importance of the launch. Some folks resisted. Why get together in a room to plan when they should be building? But leadership remained firm on the approach.
From there, they aligned teams into a single ART with a focus on integration and on delivery with a single program backlog. One person coordinated the project managers and pooled budgets. Up to that point they had three project managers fighting for budget and resources, so they merged them into one.
For the first time, teams began working on the same cadence, an essential step in synchronizing everyone across the organization. Soon, they fell into a flow and started to self manage. Communication and transparency improved; instead of making assumptions, individuals started identifying dependencies with others, and making sure those dependencies were discussed and accepted.
Within what seemed like an impossible timeframe, LIC delivered for the Fieldays event and demonstrated surprising gains across multiple areas:
- Time-to-market – A 75% reduction in the time to get features to market (from 12 to 24 months down to three to six months); Features are now released twice a week for COBOL and legacy solutions
- Customer value – With more frequent releases, customers now see value much faster
- Quality – A 25% reduction in defects in production
- Predictability – 98% accuracy on delivery predictability
- Morale – A 60% improvement in employee engagement survey results
Now, the Framework has become the new way of working across their entire technical landscape. Having moved beyond Essential SAFe, the organization is now on course to fund projects at the Value Stream level.
For more insights on how LIC rolled out Essential SAFe, take a look at the complete case study.
Special thanks to Paul Littlefair, CIO of LIC, and Gillian Clark, SPCT, for sharing the highlights of their SAFe journey here and at the 2017 SAFe Summit.