schedule Feb 27th 01:55 PM - Jan 1st 12:00 AM place Esquire

The webMethods R&D division of Software AG (wM) produces industry-leading enterprise products focused on application integration, business process integration and B2B partner integration. This division with more than 450 engineers across 7 locations in the world embarked on the journey of adopting Agile and Lean Software Development practices in 2010.

The Pain

The wM business line consists of about 40 Scrum teams delivering more than 30 enterprise products that constitute the webMethods suite across 7 locations in the world. Circa 2007, the suite was a loose collection of multiple products individually developed by teams, many of which were brought together by M&As. It was a hard, painful challenge to integrate and test these products as a single suite and synchronizing major releases. The teams embraced Scrum as the development model - a useful first step but still far from guaranteeing predictability, high standards of quality and productivity at the suite level.

The Challenge

  • Align multiple, small scrum teams distributed over many locations to one Suite Backlog. Focus them on delivering an integrated Suite by modeling an assembly line from a Lean Manufacturing system. The teams develop and contribute to a single value stream with continuous flow and deliver potentially shippable Suite Build Sets in predictable intervals (4-6weeks).

  • Retain the simplicity of the ‘Agile model’. Allow teams to grow at their pace. The teams work off their individual team backlogs, the suite complexities and priority conflicts largely hidden from them. They experiment with their processes, drive their own local changes and share the learning with the other teams.


Since embracing Lean and Agile practices, we have delivered three successful major Suite releases on time with measured quality. The customer situation has dramatically improved with steadily decreasing customer incidents, response times and hot escalations. More than a 100,000 automated regression tests  verify the suite and we have a potentially shippable Suite build set every 4-6 weeks guaranteeing the highest standards of quality. For faster value delivery, we are now transitioning to 6-monthly releases – the first of which is due to roll out in Q4 2013.

In this Experience report, I focus on how we aligned scrum teams operating from Germany, U.S, Bulgaria and India to a single backlog, a continuously integrated Suite and a potentially shippable single build set delivered every 4-6 weeks. We will look at the challenges we faced, custom solutions and processes that we designed to realize the Single Suite Vision.


Outline/Structure of the Experience Report

  • Single Suite Backlog – managing multiple product owners, technical debt and getting the priority and investments right.
  • Single Suite Value Stream -  Continuous Flow, eliminating bottlenecks and limit WIP.
  • Pulling the Andon chord - Protect yesterday's investment while delivering today's value increment.
  • Sustaining Vs Development – balance new feature development flow against high-response customer support.
  • A culture of Experiments and Continuous Improvement


Learning Outcome

A reference model to implement Lean development process in a multi-team, multi-product environment and achieve predictability, quality and productivity.

  • Continuous Suite-wide Integration – modeling a Lean Production Assembly line.
  • Visualizing the Flow, backlog, debt - metrics at multiple scales for different audience.
  • Some recipes to handle cross-product and multiple stakeholder conflicts
  • Ways to evolve custom processes to meet your unique challenges

Target Audience

Leaders, Managers, Coaches, Scrum Masters, Team members from a Product Development (R&D) environment.

schedule Submitted 6 years ago

Public Feedback

comment Suggest improvements to the Speaker
  • Pramod Sadalage
    By Pramod Sadalage  ~  6 years ago
    reply Reply



    Would you be able to convert this to a 20 min experience report in the offshore-distributed theme, if yes please update the proposal accordingly. At this point we can only accept a 20 min experience report.



    • Harish Krishnaswamy
      By Harish Krishnaswamy  ~  6 years ago
      reply Reply

      I can restrict the focus to Lean Production (Assembly Line Model), Blocker resolution and Single Backlog in alignment with the 'offshore-distributed' theme. I will update this shortly.

  • Ellen Grove
    By Ellen Grove  ~  6 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Harish 

    This is an interesting proposal.Would you be able to provide any examples of other presentations you've done recently?



    • Harish Krishnaswamy
      By Harish Krishnaswamy  ~  6 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Ellen,

      Unfortunately, my last public presentation was a few years ago.  All of my recent ones have been internal talks that I am not permitted to share without approval. I hope to put up a draft presentation for this case study in a few days.


  • Vivek Vijayan
    By Vivek Vijayan  ~  6 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi! It would be nice to know how your transofrmation was different or which aspect was different from transformations at other places. A clear takeaway would enthuse the audiance and I feel at present I can make out only generic aspects here. 

    • Harish Krishnaswamy
      By Harish Krishnaswamy  ~  6 years ago
      reply Reply

      Thanks for your feedback. I have updated the proposal with more specifics. I hope this adds some clarity. Looking forward for more comments and suggestions.

  • Archana Joshi
    By Archana Joshi  ~  6 years ago
    reply Reply

    Harish, From the description it is unclear on how Lean transformation was achieved. You have mentioned about continuous integration, backlog etc. which is typically under Agile umbrella. Could you please elaborate which aspects of Lean are you referring here.

    • Harish Krishnaswamy
      By Harish Krishnaswamy  ~  6 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Archana,

      Thanks for your feedback. I have elaborated the proposal highlighting the Lean aspects I would like to touch upon . Welcome further comments and suggestions.

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