Chevron on Air: Choosing the Software Platform to Implement SAFe

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“Targetprocess really helped us bridge the gap and bring all of our customers into a single holistic solution. We now have business users, our traditional engineers and IT and digital folks, all working in the same environment. We're using a consistent work intake process across all of our customers.”

Maxim Danilevsky,
Digital Consultant on the IT Foundation Platform at Chevron

Introduction

My name is Maxim Danilevsky and I am a Digital Consultant on the IT Foundation Platform here at Chevron and additionally helping to implement Apptio Targetprocess as an enterprise tool.

My name is Konstantin Popov. I’m a Solution Train Engineer on the IT Foundation Platform. And I also manage the IT Foundation Platform LACE organization – Lean Agile Coaching Enablement.

What is Chevron? How big is the enterprise? How many people work there and should be aligned?

Chevron is a large integrated energy company with roughly about 50,000 employees. And we operate across 80 different countries.

Since we’re globally distributed, we really have to work very closely in order to collaborate across the world, across different time zones and really be able to provide value not only to our customers, but also to our stakeholders and shareholders all the time.

Agile transformation at Chevron

What were the drivers and the triggers to start the agile transformation?

It’s a very good question. ‘Why’ is always important. I guess we’ll start out that change is the only constant thing. The world around us is changing. And today looking at the very large technology replatforming, movement to the cloud, increased usage of the agile frameworks, the shift from project-based to product-based, to delivery systems and increased focus on customer centricity, all of these are very important catalysts for change. And for Chevron, the big catalyst was cloud migration.

So, As part of the cloud migration we have a proprietary project management system that we’ve used for several decades. It’s been extremely successful and generated a lot of learnings. During the cloud migration, we realized that we couldn’t waterfall our way into a cloud. So we started with a single Scrum team with 7 people and month after month started to double and scale very, very quickly. Based on the organic growth that was happening across the teams and across the different trains. And eventually after several years, we ended up with over 700 people, 60 different Scrum teams on various trains, delivering value every single day.

Over the course of three years, 1200 people have gone through the program. And it means that we have trained 1200 people in Scrum, Kanban, SAFe, and other things of business agility. We’ve developed Product Owners, Scrum Masters, Release Train Engineers. More importantly, we’ve built a network of Lean Agile Change Agents for Chevron.

How did you choose the framework for scaling Agile?

So when we started off with one Scrum team we started to scale very quickly, we realized that team level practices weren’t enough for us. We needed some way to be able to scale them as we had more and more teams onboarded. At that point, we were at a crossroads and we could either build our own system or we could go out to the industry and see what was out there. Fortunately for us SAFe was a leader at that time for scaled agile, and it was flexible, yet rigorous enough, to meet all the complexities that we had, not only for our cloud implementation, but also our enterprise.

The technology to support the SAFe implementation

What stack of technologies were you using before implementing SAFe?

We tried various tools, understood that there were a lot of plugins, a lot of processes that we needed to customize and implement. We eventually landed on Azure DevOps as it helped integrate our cloud side of things with source code repositories and pipelines, as well as the agile piece with a work item in.

Azure DevOps worked really well for us when we needed to know what it is we’re going to do by PI or next PI. It worked very well for team- and program-level things. As we matured, we needed to create a holistic integrated solution that helps us integrate various tools and data sources across Chevron into a central single system. We were trying to promote traceability and increase visibility. And what was happening in our portfolio and all of the work that was being done, we needed to see clearly what are the resources that are doing the work and understand the capacity of our teams. We also needed to be able to create a single work intake process for all of the team across the company and be able to sign this team. That collectively gave us an opportunity to start matching all of the work that was coming in against the capacity and the folks that we have working on that.

We were looking for synchronization and alignment. And alignment is since we are no longer running our enterprise in traditional business units, and we have to work across these boundaries, we want to ensure when business and IT are working together, everybody can see the work that is happening and how much of that work is happening and decisions that we need to undertake.

Why have you chosen Apptio Targetprocess as a software platform to support the SAFe implementation?

Okay. I think Azure devOps is perceived as an IT centric solution. And we needed more capabilities, more robust capabilities in program and portfolio management practices. As a result, we were looking for the tool that would fill that gap, and Apptio Targetprocess was evaluated amongst other solutions. And due to the fact that it has a simple interface, easy implementation, very dynamic partnership, partnership that was focusing on where we are today and kind of helping us paint a picture of where we’re going to be in the future and helping us understand that roadmap we need to build. Or how do we go from where we are today, to where we need to be in the future.

So part of the reason we chose Apptio Targetprocess is for seamless integration, with other tools that we use in Chevron. And we can easily see the right information in the right tool. And we have data that has been aggregated from ADO into Apptio Targetprocess. And there is data that we can push down from Apptio Targetprocess to Azure DevOps. The same goes for many other systems within Chevron where we need to pull in the data to make Apptio Targetprocess work or where we need to push the data out for any type of other, be it financial or HR related, activities.

Between our cloud migration and Azure DevOps, it really helped kickstart us down this agile path and got us to a certain point. And then at some point we realized we needed something additional, a bit more robust on top. And so this is where Apptio Targetprocess came in and helped us take that next step.

Can you share your experience with Apptio Targetprocess as a vendor?

We were looking for a partner that can come in and really help to understand where we are in our journey, and a partner who is not trying to sell us a software solution, but is actually trying to give us an enabler that supports our organic journey.

We also were looking for a solution that was holistic, all encompassing, and with Apptio Targetprocess we really don’t have to get any other additional plugins. We only need to integrate the solution with some of our other tools to help, to integrate a variety of data and Apptio Targetprocess has very robust integration in that space.

We were also looking for a solution that would be very easy to configure for our current workforce and our virtual teams. And Apptio Targetprocess does it seamlessly.

We really understood that in order to implement something like this, it wasn’t enough for us to buy an out of the box solution and use the software. We really wanted to partner with someone that was able to, like Konstantin said, to meet us where we’re at, but also help figure out how the tool and how the software can support the implementation process, rather than just them coming in and using the tool to continue doing that.

So instead of giving us an out of the box thing, really defining that long term partnership is extremely important. And understanding how your partner can support you in all stages of the transformation is super important.

Additionally, we were able to also give some learnings to Apptio Targetprocess. And I think that partnership is really important in this new digital world.

And Apptio Targetprocess really helped us bridge the gap and bring all of our customers into a single holistic solution. We now have business users, our traditional engineers and IT and digital folks, all working in the same environment. We’re using a consistent work intake process across all of our customers.

I do believe after working in Apptio Targetprocess and seeing what the tool can do, that it can be applied to all levels of SAFe. It really outperforms a lot of the competitors in the advanced program-level and portfolio management tools, but luckily enough, it integrates with any tool that any other company is using.

Recommendations for other companies

What is your key recommendation for enterprises considering a software platform for SAFe implementation?

I guess my number one, that would be to look for a partnership. Look for a partnership in a solution that really helps to understand where you’re at today and helps you paint the picture for where you need to be in the future. And really, as you are advancing along your maturity curve, you have partners that are helping you to continue to evolve the specific portfolio management and agile tooling to meet that.

Additionally, every portfolio is different. That’s the bread and butter for a lot of companies . This is how they handle the portfolio management. So you need to look out for tools and solutions and partners that are flexible, that are configurable and not only just come in to configure something, but also help grow and shape your portfolio management capabilities.

Also, I would look for a solution that is an all encompassing holistic solution, where you don’t need to integrate other things to make the portfolio management work.

Having said that, look for an integrated solution that helps you bring in data from other systems and data sources to make the portfolio management work. So I guess those are the three things that I would recommend to others that are on a similar journey.

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