Case Studies

5 min read

Turning an Arduous Path of Agile Transformation into a Polished Deliverable

May 9, 2019, 11:21:00 AM

Overview

Creating and maintaining a shared understanding and mutual trust between densely populated departments of an organization can prove difficult without complete buy-in and effective collaboration. Teams can be separated by a number of variables, but a key point to highlight would be the way in which they're organized. Poor execution of organization can contribute to poor outcomes, especially if their supporting tools are misaligned with what they actually seek to accomplish as an organization.

Our client we worked with on this particular project was experiencing innumerable levels of frustration when it came to the manner in which they executed ITSM, Agile Transformation, Program Management, and Financial Management. These departments serve and support one of the largest transmission and distribution electric utility companies in the USA totaling over 10 million clients. The goal was to centralize on a single platform to eliminate expensive handoffs between operations and development. Defects, Problems, Incidents, and Changes were tracked in BMC Remedy for Pre-Prod, Break Fix, and Prod, and only certain items were manually recreated in Jira Software for development teams.

Prior to the engagement, our client was making a concerted effort to automate their processes which were inherently limited by legacy applications. These tools lacked deep integration, friendly user experience, and simplicity which wouldn't fit into their business long-term scheme which inevitably would have them search for an alternate, more comprehensive solution. Additionally, they sought to partner with a professional services provider who could bring discovery into the equation to determine the tools and processes that would best fit their organization and meet the demands of the business by enabling them to act swiftly and efficiently to incidents.

Maturing Agile organizations are actively looking for ways to extend the value of Agile processes beyond Software teams. At the same time, Operations teams are struggling to respond to business demands to release higher quality software at a faster pace. DevOps practices provide the framework within which operations and development teams thrive and become more efficient, collaborative, and agile. Praecipio Consulting guides implementations for organizations of all sizes — leveraging our deep industry knowledge, strategic partnerships, and the global perspective necessary to provide our clients effective and scalable solutions. 

The Challenge

When engaging with clients, our open-minded approach is simple but can be met with resistance at various stages of the project, especially at the beginning. This could be for a myriad of reasons unbeknownst to our firm and in reality, we remain cognizant of the high probability which serves as a challenge nonetheless.

During our first week of the project, we were met with adamant resistance and behaviors that indicated change was not going to be easy - The project owners were still very heavily ingrained into the old model of changes and did not show signs of willing to give away full control. We came to learn that the client had previous experience with other consulting firms outsourcing various items. Their experience working with these other firms showed that they took a blanket approach when it should've been an attentive engagement - to the point where there would be a mutual effort with maximum benefits from both the client and our firm. We were slated to work with 3 Enterprise departments within the organization, which subsequently led to friction but internal champions of the project noticed our process model and work ethics. The engagement essentially led to the turning point of an eventual 6-month engagement.

Throughout the process leading up to the engagement, we were able to extract key issues and blockers that our client was dealing with for quite some time, especially when it came to their ITSM and SDLC processes. Our client used a lot of alerting systems for their Configuration Management Database (CMDB) which clouded their ability to effectively streamline their HelpDesk. After close review into their workflow design for ITSM and SDLC, we suggested that they completely start from scratch.

As mentioned previously, our client held the responsibility to support one of the largest transmission and distribution electric utility companies in the USA. Support Teams were located globally across the United States, Europe and India, which included one-thousand (1k) IT employees who tracked over 100 Projects in flight at a time, and upwards to fifty-thousand (50k) incidents per day. Due to their disparate tool set, the initiative to aggregate was high on the priority list.

The Solution

Since this was an Enterprise client, we decided to leverage a lot of our resources internally as well as externally that would scale to the client's needs. This team was comprised of members that could provide the resources to incorporate agile consulting, program management, and financial management. To start, we utilized a few resources from Praecipio Consulting which included a team of 2 Principal Architects to assist with the migration of BMC Remedy to Jira Service Desk.

After the breakthrough of gaining control, the client allowed us to implement our Project Delivery iterative model. By applying our model, it simplified the robust and cumbersome model they had in place. Implementing the Jira Atlassian Suite has many moving parts so it was imperative that we were diligent in our approach. Replacing Remedy with Jira Service Desk was no small feat: it took a significant amount of configuration that incurred heavy usage of nFeed, ScriptRunner, Jira Suite Utilities (JSU), and Jira Misc Workflow Extension (JMWE). There was also a customized integration piece we executed that involved Jira Email Handler (JEMH) and the Jira rest API and automation. In addition, we tied everything together with an automation effort which we drove with Automic Software. All of the aforementioned were pivotal to ensure their ITSM processes was more effective than before. 

Due in large part to our emotional intelligence as consultants, we established great trust within the organization which allowed us to openly make suggestions and improvements that our client embraced and ultimately accepted. Some of those suggestions included; our client purchasing an add-on that would create a matrix which would contain all of the mapping between approver groups and support groups who are automatically assigned and approver groups that are assigned based on the environment. This would enable continuity between groups and streamline the appropriate groups to the correct hierarchy.

The longer we were there the more embedded we became, and the client was able to see how straightforward the Atlassian tools were to implement, along with the results to match. During our time there, we were able to execute and complete the full ITSM/SDLC integration with the client. This included adding time-tracking capabilities to their Jira Software (in regards to projects), built HA Disaster Recovery Recommendations, and rolled out support throughout the project. By the end of the engagement, we ran scrums every week and utilized a scrum board to track, assign, and complete everything we committed.

Results

Our client successfully released Jira Service Desk and its ensuing automation with Jira Software to over 1000 developers in-house. Following this release, the organization doubled down their use of Atlassian Products and expanded the use of Jira Software to track overall product development instead of just Bug tracking via incident response. Our client has also expanded their use of Jira Service Desk to include project requests for the PMO and after only six (6) months into utilization, their overall Atlassian-as-a-platform solution included not only DevOps, but project management for 100+ inflight-projects.

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