The Division of Technology Solutions (DoTS) provides IT services to the Comptroller of the Treasury (COT) divisions for the State of Tennessee. There are 10 Comptroller divisions, across 95 counties within Tennessee, for an estimated 700 Comptroller employees. Currently, DoTS is transitioning its business model and IT methodologies to become more adaptive to the needs of the COT divisions.
Businesses look to DoTS for technology expertise but also for providing all essential services such as phone, internet and PC support.
Business stakeholders are unclear about the constraints within DoTS and the transitions it is undertaking to improve. Improved software development disciplines will become more important to develop continuous delivery of business applications while maintaining high levels of quality.
When DoTS decided to implement Agile, they partnered with The Braintrust Consulting Group to maximize their implementation.
Through the Braintrust Agile Assessment process, DoTS and the COT’s divisions were found to have several organizational challenges and opportunities for improvement.
1. Across DoTS and the COT’s divisions, Agile training and knowledge was inconsistent. The lack of Agile engineering practices was slowing team efforts and increasing technical debt.
2. The COT’s diversity of separate and distinct business units complicated IT support for disparate systems. Developing and supporting business applications for so many diverse needs was a considerable undertaking that dramatically reduced team productivity.
3. Product priorities and disciplines were difficult to establish. Various conflicting business priorities caused product and business ownership to be stressed. COT divisions often feared unfair prioritization.
4. Frequently, product visions and roadmaps were absent for some COT divisions. Stakeholders unanimously agreed that their old method of project requirement documentation was long and drawn out.
5. There was a clear need for improved communication and transparency. The COT’s primary tool for communicating progress was a verbose, labor intensive status report.
To better meet the needs of Comptroller divisions servicing customers across the State of Tennessee, DoTS needed to address all aspects of their Agile implementation.
Braintrust facilitated private, on-site training for both of the application development teams and operations teams. Workshops included a mix of Scrum and Kanban essentials classes.
Additionally, COT sent two ScrumMasters and three Product Owners to Braintrust’s Certified ScrumMaster and Certified Scrum Product Owner public classes. With proper training, product owners can be the filter for whether ideas truly have value for the business and they can spearhead the implementation of the most critical items while Certified ScrumMaster training entailed in-depth knowledge about Scrum which aided the DoTS organization in proper methodology implementation.
The COT director also attended Center for Agile Leadership® offered through Braintrust’s Center for Agile Leadership. CAL training taught the foundational skills necessary to lead productive teams and become an architect of organizations that are truly Agile.
A full year of customized, embedded Agile coaching ensured training benefits were implemented correctly and properly tailored to organizational needs. Finally, Braintrust assisted with organizational wide adoption by developing an internal marketing plan to deliver a consistent message that Agile was coming and would make DoTS and COT divisions better.
Comptrollers have successfully evolved into an Agile organization with the help of Braintrust’s training, coaching, and guidance. Certified training and coaching accelerated DoTS organization transition towards Agile by implementing correct processes and practices. COT divisions are properly aligned with Agile development and able to understand how they can improve internal practices to accelerate product deliveries. DoTS centralized IT functions continue to allow Agile to succeed. Management and leadership styles evolved and COT became more adaptable towards cultural change.
In addition to management, leadership and development teams possessing foundational Agile knowledge, a consistent suite of minimal viable Agile metrics was created in order for teams to stay in the know. Teams took ownership of the metrics and no longer rely on managers to produce them. Teams are reporting better engagement through improved coordination and collaboration.
As a result, new practices have since emerged for issue tracking, semi-automation testing, team member rotation through production support, knowledge transfer and use of Kanban.
“There are three things I have learned with Agile: 1. You can do Agile in government. 2. You’ve got to get people trained. 3. It’s okay to fail.” – Tricia Kitchens, Director, DoTS
“Having been involved in prior application development and using the water fall method, coming to the Agile method has been beneficial for us. It was very easy.”- Beth Pendergrass, Information Systems Audit Manager
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