Brian and the team at CirrusLabs did an amazing job of quickly ascertaining our current status, identifying gaps and developing recommendations to effectively migrate to a fully agile framework within Xpressdocs. Their process throughout the engagement was very thoughtful and stimulating, they creating a great deal of communication and dialogue. They have developed a significant and highly specialized base of knowledge from which to draw their recommendations and conclusions. I found their insights to be spot on and very well conceived, which will help us tremendously as we continue to evolve. I would highly recommend their services to any company either considering or struggling with the transformation to an agile framework. They are truly experts in their field and understand all the opportunities and challenges that will be encountered along the path.
I brought CirrusLabs into the organization to quickly implement SAFe to address issues at all levels of the Product/Project Development process. I had recently joined the organization and inherited a relatively large organization (~175 people in a globally distributed development organization and ~25 people in a partner Product Management organization) which was failing to deliver anything of importance to the business and had been failing to do so for quite some time. There had been previous attempts to implement Agile, but they were poorly implemented, and I was left with an organization who thought they were following the right approach but, in reality, they were doing anything but Agile.
I asked CirrusLabs to be aggressive and reduce the time needed to get to a point where we could kick off our first release train. Despite the risks of taking shortcuts, they found the right balance of moving fast without mistakes, assess the current situation, provide the necessary training at all levels of the organization (executives on down), and get us ready for a very successful Program Increment planning event in the middle of December. We knew we weren't completely ready for the event, but we knew we'd learn more from moving fast and dealing with the issues than we would by waiting for everything to be perfect. The reaction from the employees to this event has to be one of the most positive I have experienced in my career - team members told me they had never felt so engaged and motivated as they did when the planning wrapped up.
Our first PI was 12 weeks long (with Xmas in the middle), and CirrusLabs stayed engaged and coached almost all roles in the organization (Product, Release Manager, Scrum Master, Team Members, etc.) on how to successfully execute a PI. As with any organization doing such an aggressive transformation, we had a lot of change to implement and a number of challenges to overcome. CirrusLabs brought a unique blend of hands-on experience (you can tell they've run big projects) with a detailed understanding of SAFe and Agile (and what's important and what's not). Also, their humility made the entire engagement very successful. If you are committed to making SAFe and/or Agile a success, and willing to make the commitment needed to do it properly, CirrusLabs is a great partner to work with to achieve your goals.
Our team was already organizing for agile at a grassroots level before CirrusLabs came in. We had, and still have, a very collaborative and incredibly talented team. We needed to align our Product Engineering teams with our Product and Sales teams by increasing our focus on release predictability. We also needed to ensure there was a valuable flow of the most critical business intent heading towards our teams. CirrusLabs facilitated a leadership workshop that solidified a shared vision across business and technology teams.
Additionally, CirrusLabs’ assessment approach was spot on in identifying our key strengths and key capability gaps. The shared vision and roadmap from the assessment gave us a common set of objectives and a visible path forward to realize the needed improvements to our business outcomes. After that, CirrusLabs conducted Agile Immersion and Product Owner Immersion training that was pragmatic and helped our teams see the why behind the what of agility - truly instilling agile and lean thinking in our teams. The training helped us deepen our understanding of the intent behind the agile terms and the consistent use of practices that enabled agility to scale in our environment.
One year later, we have significantly raised the predictability of product releases enabling our sales team to be more confident in proactively selling key features on the roadmap. CirrusLabs gave us the “agile nudge” we needed to make our deliveries more impactful.
I wanted to take a minute and tell you guys how impressed I was with the work done by CirrusLabs. It has been my standard mantra for many years that “those who can’t, consult” because all too many times I have come in contact with outside consultants who had no idea of what happens in the real world. It was very refreshing to see a group that broke the mold of my preconceived notions. You guys did a great job in presenting the framework of Agile, making a realistic assessment of our situation, and providing a real world way to get to where we need to be. If I’m honest, I have to say I was dreading all three of my meetings around Agile. The dreaded the first training because I assumed it would be a utopia approach, I was wrong. The second was my interview which I expected to be a search for smoking guns, and I was wrong. The third I expected to find that we needed to spend $4.5 million on startup and an additional $1.5 million monthly thereafter – sarcasm intended – I was wrong. That’s three admitted wrongs which are more than most get from me in a lifetime. It was very good, helpful, and insightful. Pass along my thanks to your team.
As with any software company, you want to do the best you can for your customers and to provide a quality solution on time and on target. With a diverse product line whose mission is to revolutionize safety and security, we needed to focus on the disciplines that would make us the most successful across the company.
CirrusLabs was the right choice to interview our team, assess our current tools and provide recommendations for how to streamline our processes to gain efficiency. After their initial assessment, they have been instrumental in providing practical steps to give us better visibility and a higher level of productivity in delivering solutions to our customers.
We initially engaged CirrusLabs to conduct a comprehensive assessment of our software delivery practices and processes with a focus on improving the security, quality and timeliness of our product delivery. Using both structured surveys and one on one interviews they obtained unfiltered feedback on the status of delivery from all our internal stakeholders – everyone from the management team, product management and client services to developers, operations, quality control and support. This resulted in an assessment of the current status of our delivery relative to Agile best practices along with a detailed set of phased recommendations to improve product management, technical practices and our end to end Agile based delivery process. To accelerate the implementation of recommended improvements, we continued to engage CirrusLabs to: 1) deliver training to our technical and product management teams, and 2) assist with the planning for better integration of DevOps.
CirrusLabs is helping to improve our tools and processes and helping us with plans to take us to the next level. CirrusLabs are easy to work with and are providing us with exactly with what we were looking for.