Essential SAFe helps Johnson Controls release 2-4X faster with 100% predictability

Essential SAFe helps Johnson Controls release 2-4X faster with 100% predictability

Case Studies

“SAFe brings so much more engagement, which has really been key for all parties. I wouldn’t want to do it any other way.”
—Rajbir Bal, Program Manager, Access Control, JCI


Our latest case study comes from Johnson Controls (JCI), a multinational conglomerate that produces automotive parts, electronics, and HVAC equipment. With 170,000 employees in more than 1,300 locations across six continents, they have experienced all the familiar aches and pains that come with having distributed teams.

This story looks at JCI’s Access Control Division which develops security management solutions. With misaligned firmware and software teams across the U.S. and India, they were struggling with planning, predicting releases, and committing to and delivering on time.

They ultimately tackled these challenges with SAFe, but their initial rollout saw its share of stumbles. Their first PI did not produce commited plans, some features were not well defined, and people were not clear on the process. What’s more, they were still following some legacy practices, left some teams out of the first trains, and didn’t effectively unite distributed teams.

Then—this is where they got it right—they resisted the temptation to say “this doesn’t work!” Instead, they got busy looking at what could be learned from their first PI and started making adjustments.

They began following the Framework more closely, ultimately moving to Essential SAFe, the most basic configuration of the Framework that provides the minimal elements necessary to be successful with SAFe. They also found a way to coordinate planning across different continents.

Soon, people began acting like one big team, instead of a bunch of siloed teams. Ownership, participation, teamwork, and automation increased, while technical debt went down.

After the early growing pains, the company began seeing the results of its hard work:

  • The division releases at least 2-4X more frequently than before
  • JCI reduced the size of its bug backlog by at least 3X
  • Access control delivers on its commitments 100 percent of the time
  • Customers/stakeholders appreciate the chance to provide feedback during the process—instead of at the end

Check out JCI’s complete case study for more insight on how they kick-started their progress, got leadership buy-in, and united disparate teams for planning.

Special thanks to those shared Johnson Controls’s SAFe story, including Rajbir Bal, Program Manager, and David Richter, Director of Engineering.

Stay SAFe,
—Dean

Author Info

Dean Leffingwell

Recognized as the one of the world’s foremost authorities on Lean-Agile best practices, Dean Leffingwell is an author, entrepreneur, and software development methodologist.

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