Airline Improves Productivity

software project

A leading global supplier to the aerospace industry was behind schedule for a software development project and over budget. A Vice President and General Manager who had several successful past experiences with DB&A engaged us to bring this project back on track. While a typical project with DB&A delivers a strong ROI and guaranteed savings, this client wasn’t interested in that model; rather, they wanted a “12-week boot camp” in order to maximize the opportunity to meet their project deadline. The client had 152 Software Engineers across Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland contributing to the project.

DB&A worked with the organization performing studies on Management’s use of time, assessment of current Management Operating Systems (MOS), and evaluation of current culture. Types of studies performed included:

  • Day in the life observations of leaders and individual contributors
  • Management Operating System critiques
  • Leadership opinion questionnaires
  • Effective meeting assessments
  • 30+ individual management interviews

The client was using the Jira project management tool; however, the analysis found that only 38% of software engineers were utilizing it. Without proper tracking there wasn’t a defined structure for managing project milestones. In addition, 14.8% of projected work tasks were being pushed out during sprint planning sessions.

The analysis also found workload imbalances, inaccurate planning for capacity, and contributors to the project were spread too thin. During sprint planning sessions used to project the next two weeks of work, only 60% of hours available were being planned for project tasks. Critical subject matter experts were often allocated to 5-7 sprint teams at a time, rendering them ineffective. The client was also choosing Scrum masters based on highest technical aptitude rather than choosing leaders with the best ability to manage people and processes.

Our team found that management needed to streamline roles and responsibilities, create process-mapping for management meetings, improve balance of work, and enhance communication in order to establish a collaborative work culture.

The estimated time to complete each capability was scrubbed and new weekly velocity predictions were established. Sprint burndowns were used to understand any variances to the sprint plan and the overall schedule was adjusted to compensate.

Sprint productivity was introduced to measure the effectiveness of the hours used on each capability. Measurements were put into place to gain understanding of the progress for the short term as well as provide understanding when planned tasks weren’t met.

A two-day training session was conducted with all Integrated Product Teams, Product Owners, and Scrum masters on how to use Jira. Standardized dashboards were developed to include similar high-level metrics as well as a sprint burndown graph to be used in each daily stand-up meeting.

A resource allocation tool was created to track how much time each engineer was allocated to project teams. A rule was established that all employees had to be allocated on a 50% or 100% basis so no person could be assigned to more than 2 teams.

Sprint Planning: Product Owners were given the responsibility of planning with the support of the Scrum masters and were required to attend each planning meeting. Monday post-planning reviews were held where Product Owners would present their plan and speak to what milestones would be achieved. Subject Matter Experts were also assigned teams to provide additional support for estimating tasks and critical path understanding.

Daily Scrums were held where feedback was given to Product Owners and Scrum masters on how each meeting was conducted. Scores were given based on established meeting criteria. This scoring signaled where improvements were needed so that adjustments could be made or additional training could be provided.

The weekly review meetings were changed to a daily meeting where Product Owners were asked to attend and present their daily progress for their sprint. The meeting agenda changed from updating weekly schedule status to daily progress and barrier resolution to keep on the sprint burndown plan.

The changes in how the project was managed were significant and allowed for a project that was falling behind schedule daily to be completed two weeks ahead of schedule.

Overall Jira compliance improved to 98% and the utilization of software development hours increased to 100%. Scrum meeting assessment scores improved significantly and the sprint team objectives were tied back to scheduled tasks resulting in teams that were scheduled to 100% capacity.

Analysis Financial Proposal

  • Proposed Project Cost: $1,100,000
  • Project Deadline: 12 Weeks

Project Results

  • Project milestone was achieved in 10 weeks, 2 weeks ahead of deadline.
  • Increased Jira compliance from 38% to 98%.
  • Increased the utilization of software development hours from 49% to 100%.
  • Scrum meeting assessment scores improved from 30% to 85%.
  • Sprint team objectives were tied back to scheduled tasks and teams were scheduled to 100% capacity.

The DB&A Difference

Analysis Financial Proposal

  • Proposed Project Cost: $1,100,000
  • Project Deadline: 12 Weeks

Project Results

  • Project milestone was achieved in 10 weeks, 2 weeks ahead of deadline.
  • Increased Jira compliance from 38% to 98%.
  • Increased the utilization of software development hours from 49% to 100%.
  • Scrum meeting assessment scores improved from 30% to 85%.
  • Sprint team objectives were tied back to scheduled tasks and teams were scheduled to 100% capacity.