Scaling Agile at a Top 10 US Bank

The Challenge

Costs related to legacy data infrastructure at this multi-billion dollar bank were spiraling out of control. It became clear that a migration to a Hadoop big data solution was required — fast. But the old data management and procurement processes would take years.

The Solution

Applied Frameworks’ consulting team believed that by using the Scaled Agile framework (SAFe®) the client could get the whole job done in 6 months.


  1. Leadership Alignment & Buy-In
    Scaling Agile doesn’t work without top-to-bottom commitment in the organization. We made sure executive management understood what their teams were undertaking and why, clearing the way for complete buy in at all levels.
  2. Large Scale SAFe Training
    Teaching huge teams the language and practices of SAFe is a challenge in itself. In a matter of days we took hundreds of staff from newbie to competence in intensive offsite training.
  3. Immediate PI Planning
    At the same offsite location as the training, we led the teams through their first Program Increment (PI) planning session. Everyone went home for the weekend and the first Sprint kicked off on Monday.
  4. Rigorous Sprint Reviews
    Working in 2 week iterations, we designed a regimented Sprint review so that stakeholders could enter and exit the sessions just when they were needed to generate valuable feedback to improve the solution.
  5. Commitment to Innovation and Planning Iteration
    After each 6-Sprint cycle, we brought 75y team members together with 50 more people online to perform large-scale hybrid retrospectives in-person and virtually using Weave collaboration software with Innovation Games.
  6. Critical Role of Product Management
    Having a champion Product Manager made all of this possible. The dedication, insight, and leadership of a single individual who sees the whole picture can not be underestimated.
  7. Accommodations for Executives
    CIOs can’t be part of every Sprint review. Instead, we kept top management involved in the process with monthly review sessions in the style of ESPN’s Top 10 plays.

Note: The name of this client is obscured for privacy.


1. The data migration team not only made their 6 month target for implementing Hadoop, they did it under budget. Thanks to the massive savings, immediate planning began for doubling the capacity in the following months.

2. Thanks to the new data infrastructure, our client’s data scientists began to find new market insights that had never been possible before. This compounded the economic benefit of the whole venture.

3. The Release Train process we helped implement was revolutionary at first, but later became standard operating procedure across the business.

“Compressing a multi-year process into 6 months at this kind of scale required a complete overhaul of how we think about work — and how we work together. SAFe made this possible.”