Scaling Scaled Agile: Lessons Learned at UnitedHealth Group

Download Scaling Scaled Agile: Lessons Learned at UnitedHealth Group

Post on 19-Jan-2017




1 download

Embed Size (px)


  • Scaling Scaled Agile: Lessons Learned at UnitedHealth Group

    Ken Mair

    Agile Management


    Agile Delivery Director





    2015 CA. All rights reserved. All trademarks referenced herein belong to their respective companies.

    The content provided in this CA World 2015 presentation is intended for informational purposes only and does not form any type

    of warranty. The information provided by a CA partner and/or CA customer has not been reviewed for accuracy by CA.

    For Informational Purposes Only

    Terms of this Presentation

  • Framing the Conversation

  • 4

    Optum - Who we are

  • 5

    What we are solving for on Polaris

    Business Process Improvements:

    Commitment to Flawless Execution of

    the Details

    Reduced Technology Costs:

    Advancing the Capability

    of the Enterprise

    Market Facing Improvements:

    Delivering Market Value at Market Speed

    Front-end Improvements (efficiencies and quality improvements in product

    set-up, network set-up, provider demographics, employer installation).

    Back-end Improvements (claim processing efficiencies, reduction in rework,

    fewer member and provider calls).

    Lower maintenance costs, break-fix requirements, less testing time and lower

    capital investments in the future.

    Move configuration changes from IT to business to decrease implementation cost

    and increase speed.

    Improved speed to market, quality, compliance, satisfaction.

    Product and Network flexibility aligned with where the market is heading.




  • 6

    Executing against 5+ year roadmap of business deliverables

    Creating or significantly enhancing dozens of IT assets Several are targeted as commercialized assets

    Influencing how software is developed within Optum and UnitedHealthcare moving forward

    Leveraging full scaled agile practices for 80%+ of all development

    9 scaled agile release trains

    45+ scrum teams

    700+ people involved

    So what are we actually doing on Polaris

  • 7

    Discuss our learnings to date on implementing Scaled Agile on Polaris

    How is the Polaris scaled agile approach the same as SAFe?

    How is the Polaris scaled agile approach different than SAFe?

    Is the Polaris scaled agile approach succeeding?

    Discuss what would we do differently next time

    Discuss what lies ahead for our implementation

    Objectives of the next 45 minutes

  • SAFe Foundation in Our Implementation

  • 10

    Value Stream Analysis informing future state

    Centralized, prioritized, refined portfolio* backlog

    Strategic Themes (aligned to a major release concept)

    Capabilities (will span release trains, will span program increments)

    Features (within a release train, within a program increment)

    All trains on the same cadence

    Dedicated portfolio leadership

    Epic ownership through Capability Ownership Model

    Our Experience with SAFe: What is the same at the Portfolio level?

    *Internally Polaris is considered a program

  • 11

    Almost everything!

    Dedicated team members

    Common backlog executing from portfolio backlog

    Common roles (e.g. RTE, Product Manager, Dev Leader)

    Build on cadence, deliver on cadence

    Some Variances exist based on release train size

    Systems team & dedicated DevOps on largest train, but not on others yet

    Product Management Council vs. Product Manager refining backlog

    Our Experience with SAFe: What is the same at the Program level?

  • 12

    Practically everything!

    Dedicated, cross functional teams

    Building working, tested software each sprint

    Plan PI every 10 weeks, sprint plan every 2 weeks

    Common ceremonies (e.g. sprint planning, system demo, retrospectives)

    Our Experience with SAFe: What is the same at the Team level?

  • How have we altered our SAFe implementation?

  • 14

    Truly leveraging the portfolio swim lane of SAFe

    Instead of it just being a loose pass through

    Adjusting for the scale

  • 15

    Product Management Council @ Portfolio Level

    Prioritizing & Refining Epics (Capabilities) multiple times per week

    Aligning product managers to then go get product owners aligned

    Clearly defining themes for upcoming PI almost immediately after PI planning

    Swarming on Epics

    Adjusting for the scale

  • 16

    Roadmap planning

    9 trains X 5 people max per train + portfolio people = LOTS involved!

    Getting people to think outside of their silos and manage to the broader objective

    Adjusting for the scale

  • 17

    HIP but at a much larger scale

    Balance of portfolio level sessions (e.g. Open Space, Innovation) vs. release train based (e.g. bug-a-thons, hardening, team building)

    Modified PI Planning Agenda

    Release train modifications for time zone differences

    Time for Portfolio wide level set of the key themes (day before)

    Cross program dependency management review sessions at end of Day 1

    Add in portfolio risk review after release train review

    Cross release train demos

    Mid-PI and End of PI for full portfolio

    Adjusting for the scale

  • 18

    Dedicated Communication Team

    Scrum of Scrum of Scrums

    Much more sophisticated Dependency Management

    Much more sophisticated Environment Coordination & Definition of Done

    Adjusting for the scale

  • What are We Doing Well?

  • 20

    Commitment to agile execution from Senior Leadership on down

    Increasing maturity across all release trains

    PI & sprint planning is becoming a well-oiled machine

    Teams honoring commitments

    HIP is working well

    Significantly improving backlog management from Portfolio to Teams

    Cutting edge DevOps practices

    on 1 out of 9 release trains

    Dedicated team of agile practitioners driving the overall transformation

    Writing practical guidance that will be used for all of Optum moving forward

    Leveraging Rally as a Source of Truth with extensive metrics to drive decisions

    Not crumbling under the weight of it

    Things to be proud of

  • What are Our Largest Challenges?

  • 22

    Its soooo big it disrupts every process or system around it

    Change in mindset

    Existing waterfall based processes

    Organizational alignment

    Things that keep me up at night

  • 23

    Communication, communication, communication

    How do you really effectively communicate to 700+ people? Trusted messengers

    Weekly news letter

    Nested distribution lists

    Lots of Wiki based content

    Regardless of the best ideas, communication is tough at this scale

    Things that keep me up at night

  • 24

    Balancing a carrot and a stick

    How much to Centralize vs. Decentralize?

    How to build self-organizing teams that are heading in the same direction?

    Things that keep me up at night

  • 25

    Dependency management

    Dozens of integrated applications with End to End flows

    Complex scenarios in a complex industry

    Things that keep me up at night

  • 26

    Inspire people to inspire others

    Not like just running your own release train

    Cant just directly solve problems

    Cant be everywhere at once

    Things that keep me up at night

  • 27

    Clarifying Program/Project Manager roles vs. Agile Practitioner Roles

    Did not fully rationalize roles prior to starting

    Agile practitioners morphed from coaches to RTE / Scrum Master

    Things that keep me up at night

  • 28

    Co-location, within & across release trains

    Portfolio wide impossible

    Program wide very difficult

    Pushing team level co-location

    Can still build a sense of community through



    Face to face PI planning

    Things that keep me up at night

  • 29

    Ramping up or retooling existing resources

    Training & Coaching to hundreds of people

    Building deep vendor partner relationships

    Build competency models for screening and hiring candidates

    Things that keep me up at night

  • What Would We Do Next Time?

  • 31

    Dedicated, training & coaching team (instead of relying on RTEs & Scrum Masters) to launch new trains, teams, or improve existing

    Driving portfolio backlog maturity & swarming from beginning with clear epic ownership teams

    Focus on DevOps right out of the gate

    ATDD, common environments, tooling, automation

    Better define what is mandated at the portfolio level:

    Definition of Ready (DoR)

    Definition of Done (DoD)

    Non-functional Requirements (NFRs)

    Environment standards & levels

    Source of truth for requirements Rally!

    PI Planning cadence

    Hindsight says

  • 32

    Relentless focus on building working tested software every sprint

    Cross functional problem solving team to manage a continuous improvement backlog at beginning

    Better rationalize roles & responsibilities of Project Management job family

    Agile practitioners, Program & Project Management

    Make a decision about Rally portfolio item hierarchy and just stick to it

    Hindsight says