Agile Success Story - Bank of America

Anthony Mersino
May 31, 2016

Do you think that your organization is too large or too old to succeed with Agile and Scrum?  This articles describes how we supported Bank of America successfully adopted Agile and Scrum in their Global Markets area.   A more detailed writeup of this Bank of America Client Success story is available for download.

In 2013, we worked with the Director of Global Markets Technology at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. He wanted to improve the time to deliver solutions and reduce key person dependencies across the 100+ people on his technology team. Bank of America needed a framework for organizing teams, sharing knowledge, and delivering solutions in a predictable way.

The Director and his leadership team went "all in" on Scrum. They led by example and took Scrum Master certification training themselves before planning Agile training for the rest of the organization and key business stakeholders. They provided an environment where people could experiment and take risks.  They empowered team members, and even went so far as to allow the team members to organize themselves into cross-functional feature teams capable of end to end delivery. And they hired Agile Coaches to help them apply Scrum effectively and reinforce the new habits.

Within 6 months the leadership realized there was no turning back to their previous ways of working. Within a year, the organization had achieved its goals of predictable delivery and the elimination of key person risks. Plus, the framework provided a means for continuous improvement.

The keys to success at Bank of America included the following:

  1. Leading by Example - The leadership team went first in terms of their Agile and Scrum training, and several of them made personal sacrifices to add value to the organization.
  2. Outside Expertise - Rather than try to do it on their own, the leaders invested in outside training for Scrum and brought in Agile coaches to help reinforce new habits and ways of working.
  3. Managing Expectations - Expectations were properly set that Agile would not be a silver bulllet that would magically fix the organization.  In fact, everyone was told to expect it would be chaos for six months.
  4. Developing Effective Product Owners - Product Owners with the proper budget authority and ownership were selected to work with the development teams.
  5. Encouraging Slack and Team Experimentation - Rather than pound the team for deadlines and throughput, teams were encouraged to plan up to 20% slack time for learning and team experiments.

A detailed report of the Bank of America transformation is available.  Get your own copy of the Bank of America Client Success story here.

About Anthony Mersino

Anthony is passionate about helping technology teams THRIVE and organizations TRANSFORM.  He loves partnering with organizations to help teams with Agile thinking and the Scrum Framework.  He teaches Agile and Scrum as well as the cultural elements that are necessary for an organization to gain true business agility. Anthony has  authored numerous articles and two books: Agile Project Management, and Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers.

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