Rick Koloski, group senior vice president of engineering and architecture at the healthcare firm Medecision,…
NCR: Scaled Agile Transformation with Atlassian and Cprime
Company Size: 36,000
Location: Atlanta, GA
Products: Scaled Agility Consulting, Jira Align, Jira Software & Confluence
NCR, a banking and commerce solutions leader, was looking for help scaling their agile practices. Atlassian called on Cprime to assist them with moving from spreadsheets into one Inegrated Atlassian solution.
As 135-year-old NCR, a leader in banking and commerce solutions scaled their agile practices across their entire portfolio of products to fuel payment innovations and accelerate delivery, they realized their toolset wasn’t fully supporting their goals. By shifting from static spreadsheets and tools to one integrated Atlassian solution, with help from Solution Partner Cprime, this global company is delivering more innovations and better service faster than ever before, cementing their role as a fintech leader and paving the way for their next century in business.
Moving From Waterfall to Agile with Atlassian
As technology has changed the way consumers buy and companies sell in nearly every industry, some sectors have found it easier than others to remain competitive. Those who struggle the most tend to be mature industries that have historically relied on manual operations and personal service, such as banking, hospitality, and retail – precisely the industries NCR serves. As the #1 global point-of-sale (POS) software provider for retail and hospitality and the #1 provider of multi-vendor ATM software, NCR is not only helping their clients bridge their digital and physical operations, but also doing the same for themselves with the support of agile and Atlassian. In 2015, after over a century in business, NCR’s leadership team made the bold decision to pursue a digital transformation to ensure that the established company could continue to innovate, compete, and keep clients happy. This transition included modernizing not only their technology but also their processes.
In iterative stages, NCR’s engineering teams shifted from waterfall to agile, and from static spreadsheets and tools to an integrated Atlassian solution, enabling them to deliver more innovation, faster than ever before. From evolving their hardware-centric business to a software and services company; to developing a self-checkout payment solution for one of the largest retailers within days; to rapidly creating contactless payment technologies when the coronavirus hit; NCR has leveraged their new processes and platforms to cement their spot as a fintech leader and pave the way for their next century in business.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention
When you’ve been in business long enough, you get used to adapting to change and uncertainty. Whenever NCR has faced a major challenge that would knock most companies down, they’ve instead evolved and come back stronger, better serving their customers and their employees – the drivers of their innovation. As NCR adopted agile to fuel their innovation and accelerate delivery, the engineering team established consistent practices, such as working in quarterly program increments, and ceremonies, such as sprint planning, standups, and sprint reviews with demos.
During this process, they realized their toolset wasn’t fully supporting their efforts and goals. “We’re always trying to deliver fast, innovate fast, and create awesome customer experiences. It often comes down to people, processes, and tooling,” says Arthur Meloy, VP of Innovation and Development Transformation. “We have thousands of highly motivated engineers with modern skills, but they were mostly relying on spreadsheets and Smartsheets to keep up with tasks. We wanted to take all that grunt work out of it so the teams could really focus on producing value for our clients.”
One Solution Speaking Everyone’s Language
When NCR began their scaled agile transformation, engineering was using Confluence to store knowledge, Jira Software to track tasks and issues, and spreadsheets to roll up their data into a master view for product owners and leadership. NCR was the first enterprise business to use Jira Align (formerly AgileCraft) when they adopted it in 2015 to support their Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) transformation, but it wasn’t until 2017 that they fully embraced it with training and support from Solution Partner Cprime. “We were using Jira Software to do agile planning and operate day to day as an engineering team, but we needed a better way to bubble up big projects to a higher level and coordinate between projects with different timing, dependencies, and change management,” Arthur says. “We started to adopt Jira Align to glue it all together so we could see one view of all the solutions and dependencies, and the cascading effect of each change. That helps us make informed decisions, like whether we want to re-allocate people to meet a date or let it slip while knowing the implications.”
Since going all-in on Jira Align, NCR has used it in tandem with Jira Software and Confluence to keep all stakeholders in lockstep throughout strategic planning and daily execution. As NCR’s product team receives market and customer feedback that informs fixes, improvements, and new solutions, product managers and product owners use Jira Align to create requirements for program increments, then break them down into epics and stories. That information automatically cascades to Jira Software, where engineers plan and execute sprints, using Confluence along the way to create documentation and collaborate. Slack notifications are triggered anytime something changes in Jira Software, so all users can maintain passive awareness and visibility into changes that may have downstream effects.
Since all of the solutions are integrated with each other, each stakeholder can access the information they need, from the tool of their choice, in a way that makes sense to them. Engineers spend the majority of their time in Jira Software, which transfers data from their tasks and tickets into GitHub for seamless deployment, as well as back to Jira Align for planning and coordination. Product owners rely on that data to manage their programs and portfolios. Engineering managers use filters to track capacity and delivery timelines for their line of business and prioritize what their team will work on next. As these leaders report back to executives, they use Jira Align “walls of work” to show high-level roadmaps, quickly evaluate progress, and make informed decisions. “Jira and Jira Align really complement each other,” Arthur says.
“Our engineering team lives and breathes in Jira every second of the day, but it’s almost like Kryptonite to our product owners. They really value getting business requirements. from it, but Jira Align has been a bridge that provides a view they can relate to. Similarly, when you’re presenting to executives or doing quarterly business reviews with managers, you’re not going to go into Jira. The walls of work within Jira Align depict roadmaps and boards in a way they understand and can quickly see how our teams are delivering on their commitments.” As engineers iterate and priorities shift, Atlassian helps the team adapt while minimizing risk. Arthur explains, “In our world of spreadsheets, it was a real pain to make changes. With Jira Align, everything is front and center. There’s always something new that comes into sprints. With Jira Align, we can see our capacity and have a conversation about whether we’re going make a sacrifice to accommodate the new priority.”
Simple, Made Possible – and Measurable
While NCR has boasted a world-class engineering team for decades, the company now has the modern processes and platforms needed to continue delivering worldclass payment solutions for decades to come. Using agile principles to guide their work and Atlassian to plan and execute, the team says they’re not only able to better prioritize the customer experience, but also measure how well they’re doing. “To provide great service, we need to be able to manage and measure our external backlog of defects, arrival rates, internal defect backlogs, and our responsiveness and resolution times for our clients. And from a delivery perspective, we have a ‘Say/Do’ ratio: Did we deliver on schedule? With quality? On budget? Using Jira and Jira Align, we can track all of that and make sure we’re hitting the mark on every dimension.” Free from the waterfall processes, spreadsheets, and disconnected systems that were holding them back, NCR has increased its NPS and accelerated delivery of new capabilities and fixes from every few months to every single day.
Now that they’re empowering their people even more, they feel more equipped than ever to deliver on the promise they make to their customers: “Simple, made possible.” “Atlassian helps with organization, speed, and transparency,” Arthur says. “When you have engineers and lines of business across the world, it’s a real beast to organize our work. Having one system of record that works across all of those is invaluable. Without that, you don’t have the speed to deliver. You also need transparency as to what’s being delivered and changed so the business can course correct. Atlassian has delivered a tremendous amount of value for us, and that trickles down to our customers.”
An Alten Company, Cprime is a global consulting firm helping transforming businesses get in sync. Cprime is the partner of choice for Fortune 100 companies looking to achieve value and agility. We help visionary business leaders compose solutions, execute implementations, and exceed business goals. With our key partnership recognitions, including Atlassian Platinum, AWS Advanced, and SAFe Gold SPCT partner, our industry-leading software and services work in synergy to deliver transformations.Want to share with a colleague? Download the PDF