AOE & Apptio Targetprocess for Scrum-based Agile Development

“I’ve found that, with many software tools, you have to switch to something new as your company outgrows the tool...but this hasn’t happened with Targetprocess. We started with the tool when we were small, and we’re still using it today as a global competitor. It helps us today just like it helped us back then – just in a much bigger way.”

Facts & figures

Targetprocess is used for software development, IT operations, design, human resources, public relations, internal event planning, and office management.

Who is AOE

AOE is a leading global technology service provider and consultancy company. They support enterprise companies with strategic decision-making, digital transformation processes, and open-source web solutions for ecommerce, web content management, and more. Their customers include some global brands, including Sony Playstation, Deutsche Telekom, Cisco Systems, and Panasonic.

AOE’s company culture is heavily influenced by the Agile Methodology. Self-organizing teams work autonomously alongside customers to deliver the best possible solution. Customers are considered to be an integral part of development teams and have a huge influence on projects from start to finish. Great value is placed on teamwork, transparency, personal responsibility, and mutual respect.

Agile practices act as a benchmark for AOE’s daily work, and help them to deliver world class solutions to companies around the world. They have completed over 1,500 successful open-source projects to date, and they welcome any customer that is seeking to digitally transform their business in order to grow their company.

Switching to Apptio Targetprocess

AOE adopted Apptio Targetprocess in 2012 for Scrum-based Agile software development. These days, Apptio Targetprocess is used across multiple departments for software development, design, public relations, human resources, internal event planning, and even office management. Teams use the tool because they prefer it over other solutions, not because it is mandated by management.

Initially, AOE chose Apptio Targetprocess because it provides them with the flexibility and transparency necessary to support their hardcore Agile culture. A major selling point of the tool was the fact that it can be customized at any level around the needs and workflows of teams, rather than forcing individuals to adapt to some predefined structure.

Like many other companies, AOE originally used physical Kanban boards to manage work. Now that they’re using Apptio Targetprocess, they appreciate having the same visual tools in a software that allows their distributed teams to stay in sync with real-time updates to boards. Joern Bock, the VP of AOE’s Project Management Office, especially appreciates the easiness of Targetprocess’ visual interface, and how simple it is for new team members to adopt:

It was a little difficult at the beginning to understand how the tool is structured, but nowadays, it’s so deeply integrated in our company that teaching new users is no problem. It’s very easy to onboard a new person and explain Apptio Targetprocess to them.

Joern Bock
VP of AOE’s Project Management Office

How Apptio Targetprocess is used

Teams at AOE are encouraged to use whatever work management tool they prefer. For development teams, Apptio Targetprocess and JIRA are usually the only two realistic options… but teams almost invariably pick Apptio Targetprocess.

Apptio Targetprocess is nice because you can visualize projects, and it gives you a lot of flexibility. We define our own process, and the tool adapts. For example, you can always modify project setup and team structure. Sometimes, different teams want to use different Agile approaches within the same project, or switch from one Agile approach to another. Apptio Targetprocess can handle that. A lot of clients ask us to use Jira, but the teams do not want to. We’ve compared both, and the teams really prefer Apptio Targetprocess because it is much more flexible and reflects our custom needs and processes better.

Joern Bock
VP of AOE’s Project Management Office

Apptio Targetprocess is also used for some high-level strategy planning. Project Portfolio Management is accomplished through the use of Epics (a high-level entity in Apptio Targetprocess), and teams select work from the Feature level. Forecasted and planned projects are placed in a Project Forecast Board so that managers, developers, the sales team, and anyone else can always see what’s coming up next in the pipeline.

According to Joern, one of the best parts about Apptio Targetprocess is the fact that it is able to scale and grow alongside their company.

I’ve found that, with many software tools, you have to switch to something new as your company outgrows the tool…but this hasn’t happened with Apptio Targetprocess. We started with the tool when we were small, and we’re still using it today as a global competitor. It helps us today just like it helped us back then – just in a much bigger way.

Joern Bock
VP of AOE’s Project Management Office

The Benefits

For Management

  • Product Owners and project managers can easily modify project setup, organizational process, and team structure.
  • Apptio Targetprocess grows and scales along with company growth.
  • Transparency: Managers can always get a visual picture of how teams are working together to meet company goals. This helps them give full transparency to their clients during projects, which raises the trust level in AOE’s customer relationships.

For Teams

  • Teams can use different processes and workflows across departments and projects, and can even change methodologies halfway through a project, if need be.
  • Easy to organize the backlog, customize sprints and iterations.
  • Transparency: Team members can always see how their current assignment relates to high-level strategy, and can compare their progress against other projects.

Recommendations for Other Companies

Joern attributes much of AOE’s success to their adherence to Agile values and the successful use of Kanban and Scrum practices. It was important to find a tool that could back these practices up, but without restricting teams to a predefined process. Every methodology should be slightly different for every team, especially when you have teams from multiple departments working from the same tool.

Many other tools on the market today are used solely as a project management platform for software development teams. Apptio Targetprocess, on the other hand, can be used to visualize any company process, from high-level strategy to basic production tasks from any department.

I’ve noticed that a lot of big companies think there’s only one tool on the market, and it’s called JIRA, but JIRA is just not flexible enough. You need to modify JIRA a lot until you can get it to do what you want. If you’re going to delve really deep in your process, you need to follow JIRA because it’s not possible to change things at the structural level.

Joern Bock
VP of AOE’s Project Management Office

Additional Resources