Learnings From Doing Agile-at-Scale Organization-Wide at SAP LoB FIN
Background, a new business challenge
With SAP S/4HANA Cloud, SAP is providing a new generation of business applications in the cloud, which is now making SAP a major worldwide provider of software-as-a-service (SaaS). To provide simple SaaS enterprise software successfully on such a large scale, the departments contributing to the S/4HANA Cloud Service organization must be flexible and adaptable in all its parts enabling an end-to-end service delivery to our customers with the highest quality.
Agile and Lean aren’t new at SAP. We have successfully implemented practices for scaling the concepts of Agility to multiple teams working on a product and multiple teams working on a suite of products. As our most important business is SaaS at a global level, Agile-at-Scale now needs to go beyond software development and focus on the whole organization, end-to-end service delivery, and operations to take our market adaptability and overall productivity to the next level.
Mission to master being Agile, not just doing Agile
The challenge is that it’s no longer enough for organizations to do agile, they must be agile. At SAP LoB we follow these five principles to be agile:
- The goal of the organization is to delight the customer.
- Teams are self-organized, the role of management is to enable the teams to contribute all that they can and remove any impediment.
- Work is coordinated by Agile methods with iterative work cycles and direct feedback from customers or their proxy.
- The predominant values are transparency and continuous improvement.
- Communications for cross-team collaboration should primarily be in horizontal conversations.
To be truly agile, we have found that it is of utter importance that the agile practices work not only in silos of individual teams but across (“Horizontal”) units and areas that contribute to the Cloud Service. We are breaking down organizational silos by introducing Agile practices to the broader management team. We are scaling the concepts of Agility horizontally, and vertically, by using flow-based techniques, like Kanban, on more and more levels of the organization. By managing flow, rather than tasks, across the management, we have found that productivity and alignment increase significantly. The transparency the visualization of flow brings helps our managers be better leaders and everyone else better align towards our business goals.
To be truly agile on all levels of organization we need to scale the process of Product Backlog Refinement to all organizational units, areas, and teams.
Why this is important
The Product Backlog Refinement process needs to work on all organizational levels for us to efficiently manage the complexity of the FIN product suite and to shorten feedback loops & increase collaboration within all teams, areas, and units.
What we do
Living backlog process on each working level (Unit, Area, Team LoB FIN internal view). Focusing on interfaces between levels as well as within each level to ensure a smooth development process in a multi-level and multi-location distributed enterprise to reach the following goals:
- Transparency in development progress
- Dependencies/cross-topic handling
- Fast responsiveness to scope changes & re-prioritization
How we do it
- Analyze strengths & weaknesses of the implemented backlog process (incl. analysis data quality) by reviewing already collected requirements on backlog process (needs for daily work + needs for meaningful reporting on different levels).
- Foster stronger involvement of CPO, PO, (Area)SCM’s to incorporate their ideas.
- Identify all critical interfaces between levels and within one level and the respecting needs (LoB FIN internal view, External view to S/4 program will proceed in a second step).
- Enhance update frequency, accuracy, and scope compleateness of data in JIRA through integration. current implementation of backlog process in JIRA to improve the continuous backlog planning
- Adapt backlog process/JIRA implementation where necessary
- Identifying and coaching in product backlog refinement’s best practices
To support this effort with the right tools, SAP has started to use Favro, a new app which provides a simple way of visualizing workflows for any kind of team. With the adoption of Favro, we get organization-wide collaboration where teams can autonomously align to better serve our global cloud business. To provide a Cloud Service with highest quality it’s important we need to be productive and connected anywhere – we are using different cloud services in combination and can manage and connect our work flow from the browser as well as on the mobile. By transparently visualizing organization-wide flow, we are empowering our leaders to break down silos in the end-to-end service chain, remove bottlenecks, and make work flow faster.
SAP has a proven culture of innovation that has made us a leading global cloud business with SAP S/4HANA. Now, being Agile-at-Scale takes our productivity and market adaptability to a next level.