Scrum@Scale Case Study

No More Hippos! Collaborative Prioritization with Registered Scrum@Scale Trainer Bob Willis

This data service government department was bogged down with legacy waterfall practices, inconsistent prioritization and constantly changing top-down directives. Registered Scrum@Scale Trainer Bob Willis guided their Agile transformation starting with transparent prioritization of the backlog, and the implementation of an Executive Action Team and Scrum of Scrums.


Trainer Name: Bob Willis
Organization: NDA
Organization Size: Large
Industry: Government
Topic: Backlog Decomposition and Refinement, Cross-Team Coordination, Prioritization, Regulatory Compliance, Traditional Project Management Failure
Date: 2019

Scrum@Scale Case Study Summary 

Learn how Registered Scrum@Scale Trainer Bob Willis guided a data service government department to create a prioritized common backlog and shift focus from projects to products. Time to market, Net Promoter Score (NPS), quality and team health all improved, while still meeting the compliance requirements of the government.

Traditional Project Management Failure 

A UK-based government department providing data and compliance services to the public through Web, Mobile and API channels was bogged down in top-down traditional waterfall management with inconsistent prioritization at all levels. Teams faced arguments, frequent changes of direction, and were constantly on edge. Each of the eight teams had their own backlog causing local optimization. They were project rather than product focused with a 12-month planning structure and little flexibility. There was also a lack of Product Owner empowerment and therefore team engagement. With Bob’s help, the department realized that their agile transformation needed to start with executive participation.

The Solution: Transparent Prioritization 

Registered Scrum@Scale Trainer Bob Willis’ first step was to lead an executive workshop focused on prioritization criteria and estimation. The new criteria were applied to the existing backlog with surprising results about what they were prioritizing and what next steps needed to be taken. The new transparent prioritization led to a drastic reduction in work in progress (WIP) while still considering the regulations, date dependence, and public perception issues unique to a governmental agency.

A MetaScrum and an Executive Action Team (EAT) were formed to guide the work on the new prioritized backlog. Teams became product rather than project focused and products were reduced from 17 down to three.

They went from eight independently functioning teams with separate backlogs to working collaboratively on two products. Teams in the same domain planned together. With a common backlog and cross-functional teams, they were able to align their work and collaborative refinement and planning allowed a much more rapid time to market. Not only did team productivity improve, but engagement and satisfaction increased with the new structure.

Key Results

Six short months into their Agile transformation, the measurable results were already amazing.

  • Team health improved significantly in the areas of team dynamics and leadership
  • Reduced time to market
  • NPS consistently increased
  • Improved quality
  • Escaped defects reduced by 30% 

Who is Bob Willis?

Registered Scrum@Scale Trainer Bob Willis is an enterprise focused Agile coach and trainer with over 30 years global IT experience. He is an expert at guiding organizations through the Agile journey to deliver complex, high value projects, and develop high performing teams.

Bob was selected by Scrum@Scale Founder Jeff Sutherland to be one of the first 30 Scrum Trainers to teach Scrum through Scrum Inc.!

Bob promotes continuous learning and development. He creates an environment focused on transparency, mastery, and innovation. Bob Willis is a passionate evangelist who truly knows the framework produces results.

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