Dell Technologies: A Scrum@Scale Transformation

CI Agile Team
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This is the story of how Dell Data Protection division of about 600 people transformed from waterfall development to Scrum. This division has an 80% market share and started out as Data Domain, which was a startup that was an industry disruptor.   Data Domain was the first solid-state backup company that quickly gained a dominant force in the market and maintained it for the past 20 years.

So, if they’ve been the market share leader for so long, why did they take such a big risk?

Although they maintained constant revenue, the enterprise market is actually flat. However, the commercial space was growing and they were not the dominant leader. In fact, they had well below 50% market share.  
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The Challenge 

The commercial space required a much faster turnaround time and they were having a hard time competing with the agile native startup companies. Then with the arrival of cloud technology, it was blurring the lines between the enterprise and the commercial. It became a huge risk factor that the agile native startups were going to start eating into the enterprise market space.

So, it wasn’t a risk, but rather a necessity to make this leap.  

Gary used to be the Engineering Program Manager and he was asked to become the Agilist to help lead the team into this transformation. They chose Scrum@Scale. Gary Dismukes is the Director of Strategic Realization at Dell Technologies and leads the Secondary Storage Group. He is also an Enterprise Agile coach, a Registered Scrum Trainer™, and a Registered Scrum@Scale Trainer™, a Registered Scrum@Scale Practitioner™, and SAFe Scaled Agilest. 

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The Solution 

He spent a lot of time evaluating the division’s dependencies and formed themselves into 5 Portfolios (File System, Infrastructure, Manageability, Quality Assurance System Test, and Performance). They decided to set up a Scrum@Scale structure to meet this, where they have Meta Scrum and Scrum of Scrum for each portfolio that then ends up leading to Scrum of Scrum of Scrum, then into EMS and EAT.   

With a company this size and such a large-scale transformation, it was not easy to operationalise this. They focused on creating best practice guides to help their teams. They spent time coaching, set up community practices, training, and extra support.  

One of the biggest concerns in the company was this: (i) Can they maintain market share at number 1 in the enterprise? (ii) Can they keep their quality high? 

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Implementing Scrum@Scale helped this company to maintain its advantage as the industry evolved. These were the results they recorded:

  • The quality went from yearly releases to quarterly releases and was far more customer responsive.
  • They were now 100% on-time with delivery for six straight quarters.
  • Defect Deferrals decreased by 94%.  
  • Customer-found Defects decreased by 60% per month, which enabled team members more time and fewer interruptions.  
  • Customer-Found Defect Time to Resolution decreased by 77%, which is from the time that a customer reports a problem to the time that a resolution is given.  
  • Revenue was at an all-time high

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Key Takeaway

Despite all their success, they continue to review their procedures and look for ways to make them better. They are now revising their organisational structures to ensure better team alignment and increase flow. The upgrade procedure is being streamlined to give clients access to the best code. Also, they are aiming towards value-based releases, better analytics to stay competitive, and continuous automation.

Implementing Scrum@Scale allowed them to continuously improve their products, processes and adapt in a rapidly changing industry. 

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