We recognised early that transforming the business needed external help and United Outcomes gave us that.
The unique challenge
Our client is a leading Insurer in Asia with operations in Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines and Vietnam. They were contemplating whether to embark on an Agile transformation journey to help capitalise on the market opportunities and achieve better customer satisfaction. The client leadership was also faced with another question on how to start the Agile journey, if they decide to go ahead.
The client engaged United Outcomes (UO) to perform an ‘Agile Suitability Assessment’. As a result of the assessment, UO demonstrated with the results that the client stands to gain significant benefits on pursuing an Agile transformation journey. United Outcomes also created a fit-for-purpose Agile transformation approach involving key phases – Agile Skills Enablement – Agile Piloting – Scaling Agile Adoption.
As part of the Agile transformation journey, UO has successfully completed the Agile Skills Enablement & Agile Piloting phases. UO conducted Agile skills enablement workshops for the client in Hong Kong, Singapore and Indonesia. UO also proved success by piloting Agile in nine projects delivered for teams in Hong Kong, Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia.
Tools & thinking
UO created a purpose-built Agile Suitability Assessment framework that evaluates the relevance of Agile in delivering benefits for the client across three key dimensions:
- Team (Size, Experience, Skills, Enablement)
- Culture (Buy-In, Trust, Autonomy, Flexibility) and
- Projects (Dynamism, Criticality, Increments).
The results from the suitability assessment indicated that Agile is a good fit for the organisation and outlined key areas of change. The areas of change included aspects such as need for collaborative work environments, need for supporting processes and tools, need for good governance to enable incremental deliveries, need for a differentiated Agile approach for each country based on engagement context and business needs.
For Agile Skills Enablement, UO used Gamification-driven workshops to engage better with participants. UO leveraged gamification techniques such as:
- Frequent Feedback
- Points & Rewards
These helped achieve the Agile learning outcomes. UO also received overwhelmingly positive feedback for the sessions with over 93% consistently rating the workshops as ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’.
In subsequent Agile piloting, UO identified nine key projects along with the client, representing the diversity in key areas (countries in scope, type of engagements and size of teams). For each pilot project UO steered the teams involved in Agile adoption based on an ‘ENABLE – GUIDE – SHADOW’ approach, in a span of six-eight weeks. Upon completion of each pilot project, UO conducted Agile adoption surveys to assess the effectiveness of an Agile approach for the team. The adoption surveys studied aspects such as team collaboration and communication, task planning and visibility of dependencies, control and management of unclear requirements and team comfort to adopt Agile for the future. UO also studied the Agile maturity observed in pilots and defined the roadmap for scaling Agile in the broader organisation.
UO has effectively partnered with the client on the Agile transformation agenda, delivering significant outcomes:
- Delivered Agile skill enablement for over 100 client participants in three countries including client senior leadership
- Delivered Agile pilot projects covering four countries in order to test adoption and for the client to learn from the experience
- Created the Agile transformation roadmap for scaling Agile adoption
- Envisioned and set up Agile Centre of Excellence for enacting the Agile transformation roadmap
Success is never a straight line
The engagement required thinking on the feet as some of the pilot projects initially taken up were put on hold for business reasons. UO & client worked together to identify alternate options quickly to ensure that the engagement was as per plan.
Some of the client’s country business units started experimenting with Agile prior to the engagement. UO worked closely with the regional and country teams in a true consultative fashion to bring everyone to common ground. This ensured buy-in from country business teams wherever it was required to run the pilots.
As a result of the engagement, client was confident enough to invest in the Agile journey in subsequent years. For the client’s regional team, Agile enablement has been a success.
UO also started working with one of the country business units in a fresh engagement as a result of the regional team’s recommendation based on the results demonstrated.