Agile Transformation Boosts IT Delivery for Private Equity-Backed Mortgage Firm

A mortgage company owned by a large private equity firm needed help restructuring their IT delivery process. With no standard IT delivery methodology in place and each IT group siloed, there was little to no collaboration from department to department. 

Regular reporting, particularly, was a pain. The firm’s technology and processes were conspiring together to make reporting complicated and manual. Complicating the situation were gaps that needed to be filled within the firm’s senior technology staff.

Painful reporting, lack of communication, uneven IT delivery – these are symptoms of a larger problem: a lack of a clearly defined process or methodology for planning, creating, testing, and deploying IT projects. What the firm needed was an Agile transformation – and they turned to Saxony Partners to deliver it.

THE PROJECT

Agile refers to a group of software development methodologies based on iterative development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing cross-functional teams. Agile promotes disciplined project management process that encourages frequent inspection and adaptation, a leadership philosophy that encourages teamwork, self-organization and accountability, a set of engineering best practices intended to allow for rapid delivery of high-quality software, and a business approach that aligns development with customer needs and company goals. 

“Scrum” is a subset of Agile. It is a lightweight process framework for Agile development, and the most widely used one. A Scrum process is distinguished from other Agile processes by specific concepts and practices, divided into the three categories of Roles, Artifacts, and Time Boxes.

Scrum is most often used to manage complex software and product development, using iterative and incremental practices. Scrum significantly increases productivity and reduces time to benefits relative to classic Waterfall processes. Scrum processes enable organizations to adjust smoothly to rapidly changing requirements – and produce a product that meets evolving business goals.

The Saxony team began the process of Agile transformation by conducting interviews with key business and IT stakeholders to understand current processes and challenges. From that research, they presented a report that recommended the Agile methodology and Scrum framework be adopted in order to maximize productivity and reduce overhead.

From there, Saxony’s team conducted training on the proposed delivery framework for the IT leadership, working with all the IT Leaders to right size the organization and communicate expected impact with the business channels. They configured and compared the functionality between three Agile software development tools for the IT Leadership to decide which to adopt.

Finally, the Saxony team provided recommendations and action plan for realigning the IT organization with business strategy to improve the business relationship and engagement. Short-term and long-term technology initiatives were reprioritized.

Two functional Scrum teams were created and structured. Each team had members with clearly defined roles, including a product owner, a Scrum master, a business analyst, and development team members. All of the Scrum ceremonies – backlog grooming sessions, daily Scrum meetings, Sprint meetings, and clarification calls – were explained and taught. All of this would be tracked in TFS, the firm’s software development tool of choice.

To ensure a smooth transition to Agile methodology, the Saxony team worked with the firm to earn management’s buy-in, encourage and improve communication, provide training and planning sessions, and begin to introduce the methodology in a slow and steady way.

THE RESULTS

Here are some of the benefits this client realized upon completion of the project:

  • The firm identified the root cause of the disfunction experienced within the organization between the business and IT.
  • Saxony’s team provided long-term direction for the firm’s technology plan and immediately consolidated several IT tasks and processes into a single software development tool.
  • Saxony’s team saved the firm money on unnecessary yearly subscriptions for multiple software development tools that performed similar tasks.
  • The Agile transformation provided transparency and increased visibility of project activities.
  • New dashboard reports provided Management with detailed Sprint activities and timelines.
  • The Agile methodology opened a pathway to collaboration between the Business and IT.