Valpak case study summary
1. What was the transformation that took place at Valpak?
Answer: The Valpak wanted to adjust to the requests of their buyers and that is why they decided to transform. Before this change, Valpak was a very traditional organization and they had competition. They had many fundamental problems, for example, missed deadline, low efficiency, out of sync communication and unplanned work. To increase the efficiency, they agreed to implement agile in their day to day work. This was implemented by their IT team so that the stakeholders and customers are in sync. They also brought sprit cycles which were two week long. So the IT team became one of the most important in delivering the business and core values within the organization. Agile director and the executive champion made them realize that converting all teams to agile would make the organization more successful and it will create a good example of the agile enterprise. So basically the agile was transformation that took place at Valpak. This transformation was brought during the perfect time to meet the latest technology demands.
2. What types of agile methodologies were used at Valpak?
Answer: Valpak used Scrum agile methodology for the project management as described in the case study. In the IT team, they implemented scrum for the product development. To concentrate on the major aspect of business, Valpak has 10 groups or teams. They also used Kanban methodology for their daily work because Kanban is more interactive. They basically used it to improve the efficiency of the communication within the group. Valpak also adopted advanced version of Kanban for the aim of improving the relationship inside the team. A single methodology cannot be suitable for entire project management, so the project manager or the product owner used different methodologies for improving the team performance, leadership and provide guidance to the agile team. Valpak adopted the perfect agile methodology to suit their organization and then further reformed it.
3. What is an "Architectural epic"?
Answer: Architectural epic means highly important and incentive technologies that can be used for the portfolio solutions’ evolution, which can provide the help for meeting the present and future demand of the business. In one architectural epic, the solution, integration of technology, and provided efforts are necessary. Architectural epis are there in the architecture backlog as mentioned in the case study of the Valpak. In a Kanban architecture system, they are required to pass through various maturity status before the implantation in project management. During this assessment process, the group can gather required details for the epic, for example, demand of the technology, impact on the economy, reliability factor and scalability. The team can figure out which tactic to use for implementing it during this process. Apart from that, architecture of the Kanban should be visible to all members of the team as it is very important for creating a work environment that is interactive enough for the team. Another benefit is that everyone can very easily track the project’s progress during each stage of development process.
4. What is portfolio Kanban and how was it implemented at Valpak?
Answer: Portfolio Kanban is also known as the portfolio Kanban board, and it is actually a method that is used for tracking the portfolio item’s status during the development process of the project. This gives visibility to the project. As described in the case study of Valpak, they preferred the portfolio Kanban as their scaled agile framework. This portfolio Kanban is implemented to plan, prioritize and manage a business epic. There was a system by which the portfolio Kanban was implemented at Valpak. It has some key characteristics such as highly visibility of the portfolio Kanban board, weekly meetings with stakeholders, well defined epic, efficiency collaboration (reset enabled) with stakeholders, stream value build up, evenly divided funnel. This was useful to make sure that everyone contribute to the current project.
5. How did projects get implemented at Valpak since SAFe doesn't recognize projects?
Answer: At Valpak, the performance of projects is based on SAFe, and it has multiple layer architecture. The very first later is the portfolio layer. This is the top later of SAFe which is connected to the company’s core values. Second layer is the program layer. This layer represents what the group should do to make sure that requirements of stakeholders and customers are met. The third layer is the team layer which is also the most bottom and basic layer. This layer is required to build close relationships within the team. Valpak used the Kanban methodology during their development phase. SAFe cannot recognize all type of projects and that is why it is not applied to both the team layer and the portfolio layer. This ensures that the process of implementations are successful. In the multiple layer system, architectural Kanban was used so that the system can be helpful for creating a mode which is compatible enough for all projects of the organization.
6. What were the big challenges that were addressed at Valpak?
Answer: According to the case study, one of the biggest challenge at the Valpak was to scheduling everyone’s time for managing cross team dependencies in accordance for the agile. It is because the well-defined scrum has been implemented within all teams at the Valpak. All team members were aware of their tasks and key responsibilities, and their requirement for standup meetings, sprint review meetings and the perspectives. Everyone is on schedule during the two week sprint cycle because of the highly integrated system. Some of the teams might work on various projects so it is not always possible. Because of that, it is very difficult for a large system to continue working without producing any errors. A highly effective communication and collaboration have been implemented among multiple teams thanks to the introduction of agile in the project management. As a result, various teams can work as a one team and this can be achieved by synchronize everything during the standups which are held on weekly bases. During every sprint, all processes are transparent for everyone and the information is accessible by everyone. It is very easy for each team to communicate with another team and obtain the feedback in no time. That way everything was combined and the efficiency of the work was improved.
7. What were the key success factors at Valpak?
Answer: Valpak has implemented two week schedule for their sprints. Eight of their teams have achieved this common sprint schedule. Apart from that there are few other important factors for success at the Valpak. Bottom up drive is one of the factor. They consider agile very important and with top down combined with the bottom up drive have helped improve the core value at each level. Reliable advice is another important factor. This is achieve by hiring an independent expert individual so that the person can behave impartial and give advice which is not influenced by anyone. Another key factor is the continuous support. This can be achieved as during daily scrum meetings everyone receive support from the whole team because the status of the project is monitored by everyone. Leadership enhancement is also another important factor. At Valpak, project sponsor and the senior manager are more tend to commit and engage to the project. So the whole team is combined and work as one and make sure that the project and hence the business becomes successful.
8. What were the results and conclusions from the Valpak implementation of SAFe?
Answer: The case study of Valpak is very useful example for organizations to learn how to take advantage of agile. There are some important conclusions and results described below. At Valpak, the management is focused and as a result, teams are well organized and give priorities to the procedure development which as a result, gives the team more freedom and the overall control to the whole process. Executive support is also very useful. Stronger support comes from the upper management as they are more determined on engaging in the development process. IT group management is also one of the important result. This is because the agile helps the organization to become a unified large team and as a result, allocation of an IT resource becomes easier. Regular releases on timely manner opens path for the quicker feedback. Highly visible standups and the status updates make sure that the team has higher collaboration. As a result, productivity of the team is increased thanks to the unified agile team. During the frequent sprints, core business value is improved. This helps implement frequent communication between customers and stakeholders. Agile also improves the quality of service of the products because all aspects of the team are improved resulting in development of the process.
9. What were the lessons learned from Valpak regarding the implementation?
Answer: The benefits of implementing agile in Valpak answers this question as it made Valpak successful. It made the organization to function in a highly effective way because of the aligned schedule of all team and team members. This type of team does more innovation and effective planning. The upper management offers more supports. IT is essential for the process to be consistent, reliable and the predictable so that the organization can achieve success. This are some of the most important lessons learned from the case study of Valpak.
10. How would this approach be implemented at your company?
Answer: I believe that after implementing this approach in my organization, efficiency of upper management can be improved. This would help improve the organization from top down. My team is trying to implement the automation for improving the response time and the software group is working this for a while now. We are still not there to implement the automation. I believe that by adopting this approach we can quickly implement automation and during each sprint important features can be added to the software.
11. What methodologies would be changing at your company to go to the SAFe type of methodology?
Answer: I am working in a design team and my organization is service based. We have traditional approach for the project management. We have consumers and stakeholders all over the country which requires focused communication. Scrum would be helpful for my organization because standup meetings could help us synchronize the communication and also collaborate with customers as well as stakeholders. SAFe would be very suitable for my company as we are moving towards interactive environment.
12. Give an example of an "Architectural epic" that would be used at your company.
Answer: My team is trying to implement automation for some of the repeated network task. This has been implemented in few other teams but our IT team has been working this for quite some time. The implementation of this new technology would provide very useful information for us. This cutting edge tech would make sure that our organization offer best service to our customers.
13. How would portfolio Kanban be implemented at your company?
Answer: In my organization, team members of certain teams handle multiple projects. So they have to work with different project managers. The portfolio Kanban board can help to track the status of each items of the portfolio as the team member can move along in the process. This can also help understand the productive capacity of each release of different projects and help maintain the velocity. It can also help with collaboration among the important stakeholders for each projects and can help improve overall business.
14. What do you think the biggest challenges you would face at your company if you were the consultant hired to implement the same types of processes that were addressed at Valpak?
Answer: I believe the biggest challenge would be the huge amount of efforts required for implementing new software. In order to use an automation software, the user should have proper understanding of software technology and network technology. Additional time is required to learn this type of software. Training module should also needed to be created for this automation software. So the organization would need to give more time to understand and implement the new software.
15. If it were to be successful at your company, what would the key success factors be?
Answer: I believe that the strong support from the upper management and dedication from bottom level would be few key factors for it to be successful. It is very difficult to implement new technology especially if most team members are supposed to use it in daily basis. I believe that the team should give feedback about the software and during every sprint the modification should be made so that the software would be more user friendly. More features should be added as well during each sprint. This process and required time should be supported by the team and the management.
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