A quick Agile Business Management transformation

or how to setup a service delivery organisation for future success

Transforming an organisation, or a department within an organisation, is usually a complex affair. However, it doesn't have to be.

Recently, I ran a business transformation programme for a small service delivery division within an emergency services organisation. Within 4 weeks, we were able to create enough momentum, that the team could maintain the transformation and drive continuous improvement (Kaizen) themselves. This transformation has had a profound effect on the team and we are beginning to see flow-on improvements across the wider organisation as well.

Transformation Goal

The general goal of the transformation was to deliver more efficient, effective and accurate services. This was achieved through focusing on three separate areas:

  1. An improved customer engagement model: The first step was to establish a customer focused service delivery model as a mechanism to support the business. This Customer Engagement model also included a high-level service catalogue coupled with expected service levels, measures, & performance indicators.
  2. Establishment of a Rapid Delivery capability: The second step was to design a light-weight service delivery method, with the goal of shortening delivery time while increasing customer satisfaction (without undermining core capability). This also helped the team meet rapidly changing business requirements through a more responsive delivery approach.
  3. Strategic capability: Finally, it was important that the team manage the portfolio of work, while remaining aligned to the strategic goals of the organisation.

The transformation programme followed a simple plan

Week 1

The first week was spent gathering the required information to run the transformation process. This included:

  • Initial Plan: A dynamic plan that defined the rationale, drivers and scope of the proposed change.
  • Vision statement: A clear statement of the end state (or goal) of the transformation.
  • Work types: A quick analysis of the types of work the team undertakes. This was used to help identify the types of workflow and estimated effort.
  • Value stream map: A map of the value stream that each work type goes through. This was also used to define the lanes on the Kanban board.
  • Benefits: A brief overview of the expected benefits of the transformation

Week 2

Once we had a clear idea of our current state, we began to engage the team to help define our future state.

  • Drivers for change: A series of 1-1 meetings with team members to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the current processes.
  • Plan the initial WIP Limit: The WIP limit is needed to identify bottlenecks and plan cycle (and lead) times.

During the drivers for change meetings, the team identified 5 common issues. We made sure that these were addressed as part of the transformation.

  1. There are competing requirements from both BAU and project work. There should be a known percentage of time dedicated to BAU work.
  2. Prioritisation is not done well at the moment. There needs to be clear identification of demands and their relative priority before work begins.
  3. The pool of outstanding/upcoming BAU tasks should be visible to everyone.
  4. Legacy work should be deprioritised in the new scheme.
  5. There should be a regular review of work types to ensure they are still relevant.

Week 3

The 3rd week was spent setting up the supporting processes. These included:

  • Retrospectives: The mechanism for the team to identify and drive process change.
  • Agile prioritisation and triage: To appropriately plan the workflow, it was important that the team create a prioritisation and triage model for new requests.
  • Training: The team received basic introductory training in Kanban and lean methods.

Week 4

The final week saw the creation and population of the Kanban boards.

  • Kanban: Setup, monitor and manage the initial Kanban boards. This included:
    • WIP Limit
    • Cumulative Flow Diagrams & Statistical Run Charts (Cycle and Lead Time)
    • Expedite swim lane
    • Allowing team members to prioritise and self-select the next tasks from the backlog.

The Future

The team then took control of the ongoing transformation. Through the retrospective processes, the team adjusted the WIP Limits as required, identified and resolved common bottlenecks and created standard processes for common tasks. Some future work that was identified included;

  • Customer audit: To identify the teams’ Customers and their needs.
  • Defined work packages: To simplify the assessment, estimation and planning of standard work.
  • Customer training: To ensure BAU customers understand the internal team processes.
  • Agile KPI’s: To measure the performance of staff against Agile measures.
  • Tool based Kanban: Using a tool (e.g. Jira/Greenhopper) to manage workflow and the Kanban board.


Image is CC BYNCSA - danmachold (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mybloodyself/5659661793/)