CA Champagne blog series (#5): Extending agile across the business

To become a truly agile organization, you must align work across the business.

In the fifth of our series of blogs about the CA Technologies agile transformation, Sri Parthasarathy, Sairam Chamarti and Christine Hudson talk about how we’re successfully using Agile practices in Legal, Marketing and Global Customer Success.

Agile wasn’t designed to sit in isolation in development. To get the most out of agile, it needs to be applied to every department that is involved in launching new products and servicing customers – from marketing and sales through to legal. The benefits of extending agile across the value stream — collaboration, adaptability, and the ability to sense and respond to market changes — is what the industry refers to as Business Agility.

Here at CA Technologies, we’re focused on becoming a truly agile organization, and that means aligning all our work to the needs of our customers, with common goals and priorities and collaboration across the entire business. To achieve this, we need the same mindset and the same ways of working.

We have been successfully extending agile across the operational value stream over the last couple of years, so we wanted to share some of the successes and some of the challenges we experienced.

Instilling agile with Big Room Planning

When the Legal, Marketing and Global Customer Success senior leaders came to us after witnessing the passion, engagement and results delivered by quarterly steering and program increment (PI) planning in the product organization, we were happy to engage these teams in learning more about lean agile mindset, and practices that can support them in focusing and aligning their work. (You can find out more about these in our earlier blogs here).

One of the key agile practices we used with these teams was a type of Big Room Planning (BRP), known as Critical Initiative Planning. Similar to other types of agile planning, this involved bringing together a group with common goals to decide on the most critical work they will do, how they will prioritize it, and then plan that work into experiments and sprints completed by critical initiative teams. These teams also started to use CA Agile Central to track their activities and results.

Overcoming challenges

For Legal, we experienced a few challenges, as teams are used to being extremely precise in their work products. We had to help them think carefully about how that work could be broken down into smaller pieces while maintaining quality.

Once this was overcome, the team saw great results, including faster improvements to contracts and legal websites. The legal team is now in a better position to support our company as we grow and move more of our operations to as SaaS (soft-as-a-service) model.

Delivering results

The Global Customer Success team was particularly swift in adopting lean and agile thinking. The team was already accustomed to customer focus, systems thinking, and how they could improve to the overall customer experience. The ability of agile to make these happen faster has mass appeal.

We sat down with 30 leaders in a Big Room Planning meeting to come up with a detailed, sprint-based approach (a hypothesis and means to begin the experiment) on to how to improve customer satisfaction across our portfolio of products, and came up with a minimum viable initiative that would have a demonstrable impact in the business in just six weeks.

The journey of agile marketing and BRP deserved it’s own blog series, as there has been so much interest in this approach. Anyone interested in finding out more about how we applied Agile to marketing at CA can read our blog series here.

Right now we’re beginning scaling agile and BRP work with some of our IT shared services teams. Our Global Information Services teams have widely adopted agile team practices. Scaling agile this across large projects while leaving capacity for ongoing operations is the current effort. Look for more on this in later blogs.

By extending agile throughout the value chain, we’re learning to innovate with discipline; we’re learning faster with smaller experiments; and we’re delivering higher value more frequently to our customers.

Read the full CA Champagne Blog series: 

Sri Parthasarathy
Sri Parthasarathy has spent 30 years in the software industry focused on the intersection of…


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