What trains have in common with innovation and agility

Scaling with Home Connect

Overview

Client: Home Connect, BSH Household appliances GmbH

Methods: SAFe Scaled Agile Framework, PI-Planning

Year: 2018/19

Branch: Household appliances, Software

Together we have brought together a globally distributed organisation into a first release train, creating a new way of working together. This is the basis for new and exciting ways to develop interaction with household appliances.

Challenge

How should the globally distributed teams of Home Connect, a service for digital interaction in the home, organise themselves so that they can regularly create added value for their customers within an agile overall organisation?

Result

The result of our collaboration is a framework for agility and innovation for Home Connect's globally distributed teams. We launched the first release train and enabled the teams to react quickly to market changes and customer feedback. Based on current insights and newfound flexibility, Home Connect now regularly delivers releases with exciting and customer-focused features.

Our approach

Value Stream Workshop

Core team with champions

Role-specific training for all participants

PI planning and start of the 1st release train

New strategic direction and 2nd Value Stream Workshop

App relaunch

This is how our assignment was carried out

To meet the growing demand for innovative digital services to support and connect household appliances, BSH has created a world-leading platform for connecting household appliances with its Home Connect offering. In 2018, it was decided to reorganise the Home Connect development programme according to Lean Agile principles, using SAFe as the foundation. We, improuv, were given the task to support the transition to scaled agility. In the process, close collaboration with internal BSH stakeholders and coaches was always most important for us. The challenge at the beginning of 2018 was to transform a classic organisation with corresponding role models, which was also distributed across several countries and consisted of internal and external employees, into a Lean-Agile organisation. The aim was clear: a tangible togetherness for more productivity and agility.

The Approach

Our first joint step with Home Connect was a value stream workshop that defined the scope, the release train and the key roles. We then created a core team of 'champions' to bring the change to life. All agile roles were trained accordingly. Key people, such as the "Release Train Engineer", were set up and coached and the foundation for the first Release Train was laid.

The teams were now ready for the next change step: the structure of the development teams. During a team event, everyone got to know each other and formed feature teams for the release train - a rather radical step at this point.

Now things could really get started: In April 2018, the first PI Planning was a great success in a rousing atmosphere and with highly motivated participants - and the starting signal for the first Release Train at Home Connect. During the first programme increments (approx. 10 weeks each), the train continued to expand its testing strategy, communities of practices and integration approach to build a more robust end-to-end train and learning organisation.

But as it happens, the direction of travel and speed change: a realignment of the strategy in autumn 2018 puts more focus on the Home Connect app. A comprehensive relaunch of service and concepts is decided. The Home Connect offering is re-evaluated and the release train is reorganised based on lessons learned so far. We embed all this in an innovative approach consisting of a series of Google Design Sprints (design thinking-based) to identify new customer-focused opportunities. During this very intensive time, the team gains many new insights into customers and the product, which directly affect the product.

In a second Value Stream Workshop, the structure of the teams is realigned: instead of the pure feature teams, which became too large, smaller teams cover specific product and topic areas.

The Change

The train runs

The Agile Release Train travelled through 2019 and at the end of 2019 Home Connect successfully relaunched - the strategic goal was achieved.

Since then, the Home Connect innovation train has been regularly delivering new added value for its customers and improving with each programme increment.

Key Learnings

#1 Take everyone with you

Help people understand what the change means for them and why - through training and empowerment.

#2 Invest in the "Spirit"

Let your employees feel that they are part of something unique that they create and shape themselves.

#3 Inspect and adapt

Be ready and eager for change - based on your learnings. Nothing is forever permanent.

#4 Agility is further development

Agility is not simply "rolled out". It is a transformation.

Lead Coaches

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More on the topic

SAFe introduction at censhare

Case study of a SAFe implementation that led to a shared product vision and team spirit.

Agile transformation at a large financial IT service provider

Case study on how transparency and self-organisation ensure sustainable change.

PI Planning at Siemens

A blog on PI Planning - from preparation to implementation.

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