A Fortune 50 national health insurance provider with over 40 million users was interested in utilizing the Scaled Agile Framework for modernization of their legacy claims system. The legacy platform was built in COBOL and the provider was facing challenges in hiring technologists well-versed in the original programming language to add features to their flagship product.
The claims system was used in 14 states and moving to a more modernized platform with existing subscribers was akin to changing the engine of a moving airplane without affecting the onboard passengers. The organization was following Waterfall as their project management methodology. For a major upgrade, requirements gathering would occur at the beginning of the release, and by the time execution and delivery took place, sometimes 18-24 months later, they no longer aligned with the wants and needs of their business stakeholders. These long, complex requirements, and the inability to switch gears easily and manage interruptions, resulted in a system that was inefficient and unproductive.
An iterative and incremental process flow was needed to create a modern platform which would deliver features in a timely manner and support the organization for the next decade.
How Agile Brains assisted
The Agile Brains team was asked to assist the provider in creating a transformation roadmap educating the teams in Agile and using Scaled Agile Framework to manage the work of the 300+ employees and consultants working on the claims system. Our team started by conducting a SAFe for executives workshop with the leadership team and created a 6-month delivery roadmap. The first step was training the members on Agile principles and building high performing cross-functional teams before embarking on the SAFe implementation.
Agile Brains assisted the client in moving from using requirements in Word documents, Excel worksheets and Microsoft Project to creating Agile epics and user stories in Atlassian JIRA and Confluence. To mitigate risk of delivery and have an incremental solution, the team discussed the plan of going live with the new claims system in one single state before rolling out to all 14. Iterative and incremental delivery of the platform was the fastest way to gather feedback, eliminate defects and increase customer confidence. On the JIRA front, Scrum and Kanban boards were setup to help the teams manage their day-to day user stories and tasks. Management dashboards were created to track program-wide initiatives.
Once the teams were fully agile, launch of the Agile Release Train (ART) was the next key milestone. A value stream mapping workshop for the platform was conducted identifying the key players and components needed for delivery. Teams were trained in Leading SAFe, SAFe for Teams, SAFe scrum master and SAFe product owner certifications. The first Program Increment planning was attended in person and the first ever ART was successfully launched.
Business Value Delivered
After spending 18 months with the insurance organization, Scaled Agile Framework was fully adopted for their delivery teams:
Go-Live of the new modern claims system built using JAVA and PEGA in the first chosen state in a record-time of 9 months
Over 240 employees trained and certified in Scaled Agile Framework certification courses
Implementation of Lean-Agile Center of Excellence (LACE) for future planning and execution needs
46% Increase in velocity by Agile teams helping them increase productivity and avoid task-switching
Quarterly customer visits from business units and divisions for gathering feedback and upcoming feature requests
Cross functional development and QA teams identifying defects early and adopting shift-left principles within the iteration
Innovation week was implemented to bring team members closer and create innovative features within the new adaptive claims system
Coached and trained the internal Agile coaches and Release Train engineers to continue the relentless improvement journey of SAFe implementation