Faster Better Cheaper for a Highly Regulated Environment? Yes, we Kanban!
Is it possible to deliver software improvements faster and with better quality in a highly regulated environment? What if the organization only uses off-the-shelf commercial packages like SAP rather than custom software? Oh, and much of the team is still learning the ropes? And by the way, our business users are unavailable during monthly and quarterly close, and to top it all off whole divisions go off-line for weeks or months at a time during refinery “turnaround” events? How can we improve cycle times, if it sometimes takes us months just to figure out how to design a solution for a single request?
In this session, we will examine a case study at an energy company that needed to increase their speed of delivery and their level of quality, while at the same time controlling costs. They started to adopt Kanban a year ago, by visualizing their waterfall process on a board and holding a daily stand-up. However, cycle times were still unacceptably long, and the board did not change much day-by-day. Worse, the business was getting more impatient and the backlog of urgent requests was growing longer. The team was ready to take the next step and deepen their kanban implementation.
We will examine a number of improvements that were made and the impact of each one of them. Larger work items were broken down into user stories, enabling progress to be tracked at a more granular level and helping the team to break down difficult problems into smaller, bite-sized chunks. Defects were captured individually on the board so large items did not appear to “stall” for no reason. Time-boxed “Spikes” could be created to capture efforts required to identify alternatives and reduce risk in design or implementation. The kanban boards went through multiple iterations as we updated them to better reflect our new process.
Hand-in-hand with these improvements came training and practice. How do we create properly formed user stories? When is it appropriate to create a Spike? How can we make process policies explicit—especially the Definition of Ready and Definition of Done?
Perhaps the biggest change for any team moving away from waterfall is the difference in the way team members interact with each other. Analysts and developers used to formal, defined handoffs gradually learned to work together more closely during all phases of a work item—from cradle to grave. Introducing this new way of working together exposed many concerns and biases, most of which have roots in the very different ways that analysts and developers think and see the world. We will review this phenomenon and talk about different techniques and approaches to help mitigate concerns and move forward.
Come join us for a stimulating, thoughtful conversation about one Fortune 200 company’s journey towards a deeper and more complete implementation of Kanban. Perhaps the “alternative path to agility” is right for your organization?
Outline/Structure of the Case Study
- case study introduction
- problem statements
- root cause analysis: getting the full picture
- user stories, spikes, and defects, oh my!
- Kanban system design
- Lean documentation: doing more with less
- Establishing Team agreements
- Replenishment Cycles
- Kanban board evolution
- Lessons Learned
- Next Steps
- See how Kanban brings incremental benefits without requiring revolutionary change
- Understand the value proposition for Kanban for knowledge-based work
- Understand how agile/kanban can improve cycle times even in highly-regulated or COTS-based environments
- Understand how the simplicity and clarity of Kanban helps reduce resistance to change and avoid the type of knee-jerk reactions that can jeopardize a transformation initiative
- Understand how Kanban boards can be used to simultaneously visualize work at multiple levels of granularity, showing how work is decomposed into pieces and then recombined for delivery
analysts, developers, business owners, management, technical and non-technical