Putting Agile Project Management in the Driver’s Seat

September 18, 2020
3 Minute Read

When a Fortune 100 automotive financial services firm needed to better respond to business disruption, they engaged RGP to help transform their product development process. The company can now pivot an entire workflow in less than two weeks, enabling employees to work quickly, but not in a hurry.

Our Fortune 100 client represents a different kind of car company, not only because of the inspired design and engineering synonymous with the brand, but because of the thinking that drives that innovation.

In a company that builds some of the most fascinating, future-forward vehicles on the market, staying in the lead means constant transformation. It’s no surprise, then, that they adopted the same mindset to improve the product development process for their financial services division.

Seeking to manage company-wide projects in a more intuitive, standardized way, our client resolved to invest in efficiency-enhancing measures. This required a thoughtful solution based on a holistic view of the business landscape, nurtured through a relationship built on trust.

Enter RGP, led by our VP of Business Transformation, Bill Luberto. In recounting our approach to this challenge, Bill chooses his words deliberately, inspiring the credibility that nurtured the project’s success.

“With this client, and with every client, we work to understand what their issues are and bring our best solutions forward. It’s not about us. It’s about becoming integrated in the solution and being seen as part of the team,” he says.

Managing Performance and Complexity with an EPMO

Bill and the rest of the Business Agility team worked with our client to establish the company’s Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO). They created governance and reporting processes, as well as staffing a cadre of expert project coaches to elevate the organization’s project delivery capability. By developing processes to prioritize work requests and to standardize reporting on project K.P.I.s, company leaders could both manage projects and assess performance through at-a-glance, interactive dashboards.

The EPMO provided for a managed portfolio of enterprise projects that kept the organization compliant with governmental regulations while continuing to advance their functional and technical capabilities.

“The real benefit of a healthy EPMO, though, is the ability to facilitate and deliver on a corporate strategy while helping to identify the demand for projects and making sure the right mix of projects is getting done,” Bill says.

The result? Before the initial EPMO effort, our client had projects that not only went over budget and schedule but outright failed. Today, that’s no longer an issue, and our client is able to stay ahead of the curve as one of the world’s premier car companies.

But like so many road trips, one question always arises: Are we there yet?

To answer that question, two years after the EPMO refresh, the team at RGP reevaluated how far our client had come in transforming their business processes. “After conducting our analysis, we put together some recommendations,” Bill says. “One of those was going Agile.”

From Concept to Launch in Two Weeks

Traditionally, projects are funded by going through a months-long initiation period that includes creating an idea, submitting it for approval, developing a business case, then estimating cost, time and resources. However, an Agile model provides a nimbler, more efficient approach and allows you to fund products, not projects.

Continuing on their agility journey, our client sought to establish their first Agile Release Train, or group of teams that work to develop and deliver across every step of the value stream. A key to managing a complex value stream with agility is being able to perform full-cycle testing within short periods of time—or sprints.

RGP’s work helped produce 10 Agile teams that could prove out anything they built in no more than two weeks.

Pivoting to Manage a Call Center Crisis

Through a successful EPMO launch as well as the adoption of a Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)  and Lean Budgeting model, our client gained the power to pivot without mercy. They didn’t have to seek approval to shift gears and reprioritize work to meet changing customer demands. This made all the difference, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. and their call center volume jumped some 600%.

Inundated with requests for loan extensions and deferred lease payments, they couldn’t keep up. Costs soared as customer experience plummeted. So they innovated.

Our client decided to stop what their Agile Release Train was working on, pivot and reorganize their teams to focus on building product features that would alleviate stress on the call center and improve customer satisfaction.

In 21 days, they were able to create self-service mobile and web capabilities.

As our client points out, “Access to talent with specific skills is a limiting factor in how rapidly companies can scale Agile development teams. When it comes to consistently delivering high-caliber resources with specific job skills, RGP has proven to be our go-to partner.”

“Access to talent with specific skills is a limiting factor in how rapidly companies can scale Agile development teams. When it comes to consistently delivering high-caliber resources with specific job skills, RGP has proven to be our go-to partner.”

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