Product Owner and Product Manager capability uplift

Product Owner and Product Manager capability uplift

The client situation

Our client is an icon in the financial services industry, one of the four largest financial institutions in Australia in terms of market capitalisation, earnings, and customers. Faced by a growing number of nimble competitors changing the market dynamics, our client’s executive, business, and technology departments needed new innovative methods to ensure consistent delivery, accelerate processes and enhance efficiency in software development for digital products. 

Reliability at scale is of critical importance to our client who had not been able to experience the business benefits of Agile practices due to their original Agile training partner lacking real-world experience. This caused growing frustration among key stakeholders as business growth felt stagnant and no outcomes materialised for customers. At risk of compromising product quality and missing deadlines, it became evident that a fresh approach was necessary for the business. 

As part of its digital roadmap, our client wanted to mature their Agile practices to replace ineffective traditional methods which weren’t delivering the desired business benefits. Our client made the strategic decision to shift focus, in mindset and in practice, to harness Agile as an enabler for customers and business representatives of the customer, such as Product Owners and Product Managers.

The challenge

Faced with the challenge of an organisation structured around business domains with centralised support functions such as Human Resources (HR) and Information Technology (IT) our client had made numerous attempts at transformation without successfully embedding new ways of working into business processes. 

The lack of sustained change coupled with pressure from new market entrants who had developed business models for a complete digital customer, user and employee experience opened our client up to intense public and shareholder scrutiny. 

To compete effectively at scale in the complex financial services marketplace, our client knew they needed a reliable and proven framework for scaling Agile to the enterprise level. Keen to avoid learning and development fatigue for Product Owners and Product Managers, our client sought an engaging and customisable Agile training and certification solution to uplift Agile capability across the organisation whilst maintaining high employee engagement throughout the journey. 

The solution

Using our proven methodology, we started the engagement with a practical workshop to understand the lessons from past transformational change efforts and to align our planning to the capability development roadmap for our client’s organisation. 

Our client sought to rapidly upskill its workforce of Product Owners and Product Managers in Agile principles and techniques via a co-designed Agile program. We developed the necessary program which had multiple components designed to offer a roles-based pathway for the Product Owners and Product Managers. 

The first step was designed to promote engagement and Alchemy offered the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) Product Owner / Product Manager accredited course with the globally recognised POPM certification. The course was introduced as a white paper for an industry-based framework that could be utilised to promote standardisation and illustrate proven approaches to addressing deficient areas across the organisation. Participants were encouraged to nominate areas that could make the biggest difference to their domain, and we facilitated a workshop on the nominated areas of focus such as Program Increment (PI) Planning, Role Clarity, Progressive Elaboration, Value Assignment, Sizing and Estimating. 

Following this foundational work, our qualified and experienced Agile coaches worked with each of the trained domains providing on the ground coaching and mentoring to program participants enabling them to build confidence and gain practical hands-on experience when it mattered most during their day-to-day work. 

To provide additional support to successful adoption of new ways of working across the organisation, certified Alchemy Product Owner and Scrum Master resources augmented our client’s teams. This helped to facilitate learning and promote understanding by optimising our training and coaching for day-to-day relevance.

The results

Successfully trained and certified more than 320 individual team members across the organisation, uplifting Agile capability to support our client’s rapid change ambition. 

Alchemy Solutions successfully designed and continues to deliver the SAFe® POPM program content and coaching, helping our client to effectively: 

  • Leverage previous Agile investments and Agile change efforts by harnessing a purpose fit POPM program to uplift Agile capability across the organisation. 
  • Interact with and gain insight from experienced Agile practitioners with real-world experience to foster positive mindsets and culture from real-world examples of success. 
  • Create cross-functional synergies for distributed teams through enablement and design, translating culture goals into actions and building the right support structures. 
  • Augment and support internal and external teams to maintain and evolve their digital vision and skills in an ever-changing market landscape. 

As a strategic transformation partner, we have been instrumental in helping our client with the maturation of Agile capability, culture, and practices across their organisation to replace ineffective traditional methods and practices. 

Together we co-developed a set of key SAFe ® metrics, which can be used internally and with external stakeholders, to continuously measure and embed best practice within software development lifecycles by enabling early detection and remediation of blockages to overall delivery performance. 

Alchemy continues to work across the organisation, supporting our client’s transformation agenda.

Final thoughts

Alchemy’s key sponsor wrote: 

“I just want to say thank you. Alchemy brought an enormous amount of leadership to the roll out of SAFe ® POPM practices within our organisation. Right from the beginning we all felt as a leadership team that our trusted advisor had arrived, and this was replicated by each Alchemy resource involved. The work Alchemy did for us has been transformational.’’ 

Bringing our real-world experience in delivering a broad range of business and technology transformation projects, we have partnered with our client to transform how they deliver memorable customer experiences through technology and software. 

Alchemy’s leadership on the ground with sleeves rolled up provided needed support to all people involved, leveraging the following Alchemy tools and techniques: 

  • People First – Alchemy brings a distinct and holistic people, process and technology approach which aids effective identification and remediation of blockages to communication and process flows. The prioritisation of customer and employee journey’s ensures line of sight to what’s important – people. 
  • Building an Agile Mindset – Alchemy builds on previous learnings by exploring the Agile mindset requirements to deliver Agile at scale. Challenging the status quo with the insight and knowledge that the Agile mindset offers the greatest platform to transform results. 
  • Alchemy’s SAFe ® program – Alchemy’s approach is engaging and clear for business and technology teams, driving business ownership as a critical enabler of delivery success. The use of Agile techniques, tools and rituals ensures that everyone understands their role and conflicts are resolved quickly. 
  • Sharing Why and How – Alchemy invests significant effort in ensuring everyone understands why the change is necessary to unlock willingness to embrace new ways of working and support the development of a vision for the future based on a common set of goals and shared mindset. 

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