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Agile Principles drive Transformation Projects at Lowell

 

Customer Reference Lowell

Lowell's company strategy is to become the leading and most trusted receivables management company in the industry

 

To achieve this they have acquired several companies to accelerate the execution of the strategic goals. Translating this strategy into action required initiating, managing and synchronizing a set of transformation projects. As the financial industry handles sensitive data, business execution needs to take data privacy laws and regulations into account while striving for best in class global processes.

 

Best in Class is the key focus of the transformational projects. Using the agile approach to managing the transformation projects was a fundamental decision designed to accelerate the implementation of those projects. Best in Class and GDPR compliance are two goals Lowell is striving for and the European GDPR regulations have a fixed implementation deadline in May 2018. For Lowell, time to market was an important criteria of Lowell for going Agile. Working agile suits Lowell’s business culture by leveraging highly skilled and motivated teams in all locations.

 

Lowell has implemented a change organization to set the standards used to lead the transformation project portfolio. There were three major steps: a culture which encourages teams to be led by objectives and to self organize their work, a project organization to build cross functional teams like a swarm and a toolset that enables real time agile collaboration and communication without boundaries.  

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Thomas Dold, the CEO of Lowell DACH, said: ‘Being fast and flexible to adapt to market conditions and organizational change made us more competitive. Leveraging all of the talents throughout the organization at the same time is a tremendous value that allows us to achieve our strategic goals faster. Getting advice and the toolset from swarmOS has accelerated our journey into agile project management and made it easy for us to manage our project portfolio and increase transparency. The proven best practices and using a toolset made for business users is a key part of our agile strategy.’ 

Lowell's transformation projects moved to SCRUM

 

To Lowell moved all of its thirty transformation projects to the agile framework SCRUM. The internal and external team members were trained in eight weeks on the agile approach, working as a SCRUM team and using a toolset that allows real time communication and collaboration. The project teams for business and software projects switched over to working in sprints of two weeks and focussed only on their backlog. The transparency has significantly increased by implementing SCRUM and working against a prioritized backlog. Cross-functional teams have strengthened the collaboration, team spirit and ability to execute. 

 

Real visibility for the leadership team was achieved through a cockpit to visualize and lead the portfolio of transformation projects, this was enabled by using the swarmOS add ons to the Atlassian platform. By having key success factors visualized in real time, in one place, it is easy to spot which projects are on track to reach the goals or the agreed timeline, in terms of team capacity, scoping and budget. It easily drives trade off decisions between projects and resources and improves project success rates.

 

The ability of the teams to escalate to the leaders to get help in removing impediments to their projects accelerates project execution and drives motivation. The interaction with the teams is no more than two clicks away within the Lowell Cockpit provided by swarmOS.

 

 

 

 

Lengthy status presentations are replaced by real time information from the swarmOS Cockpit. The Product Owners and Scrum Masters running the transformation projects benefit from swarmOS Analyzer to detect, visualize and manage dependencies between and within their projects. It becomes easy to see cross project dependencies and critical organizational resources. Transparency and ease of use is a key success factor for Lowells Scrum Teams.

 

The ability to get feedback via survey from the internal customer and the teams after every sprint is an early indicator on the success of the transformation.  

 

 

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Summary: Moving a set of transformation projects in business or software into an agile approach requires three things:

  1. an agile Mindset,
  2. the right organizational principles and
  3. the toolset that enables real time collaboration and communication.

swarmOS has provided the guidance on the best practices and the toolset to jump start agile execution at Lowell. Leading a portfolio of agile projects is made easy by swarmOS Cockpit and provides key indicators across the portfolio in one place. Managing dependencies across the project portfolio with swarmOS analyzer enables necessary trade off decisions to be taken.  

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