How Birlasoft supported a global energy leader in transforming its Application Managed Services for Infor CloudSuite Industrial (Syteline) with the implementation of Agile methodology.
The client in the subject has pioneered innovations that empower the global energy industry for more than 150 years, enabling its customers to safely produce abundant energy while minimizing their environmental impact. The energy industry depends on the client’s deep expertise and technology to continually improve oilfield operations and assist in efforts to advance the energy transition towards a more sustainable future.
At present, the client has three main business units. One of these units serves oil and gas producers and well intervention service providers to pursue opportunities around hydraulic fracture stimulation, wellbore intervention equipment, composite tubulars, pumps, floating production systems, and subsea production technologies. Infor CloudSuite Industrial (SyteLine) is among the array of ERP systems that help them remain productive.

With thousands of users across dozens of sites worldwide, managing SyteLine is mission-critical. And hence, the client chose to engage with Birlasoft to help resolve their backlog of SyteLine-related issues.

The Challenge
Open tickets and production bottlenecks
The company’s existing Infor CloudSuite Industrial (SyteLine) team had a large backlog of identified work centered around SOX compliance reporting, end-user support, and application enhancements. Additionally, there were undiscovered opportunities to improve business outcomes and process efficiency. Overwhelmed with in-progress work, the team stayed in perpetual firefighting mode, only able to respond to emergencies. Work in this period was characterized by:
  • Delivering “sand,” not strategic work
  • Constant firefighting and reprioritization
  • Long hours, high stress, frequent interruptions
  • Fast solutions are rewarded over a deep understanding of problems.
Provisioning services across the globe
In addition to these challenges, the Infor CloudSuite Industrial (SyteLine) footprint within the company was growing through acquisitions and ERP system conversions worldwide. To that end, business support across global time zones became a huge requirement.
The Solution
Leveraging the Agile approach
To make a switch to agile, the traditional AMS plan with KPIs for time-to-resolution and various other ticketing metrics had to be scrapped. In addition, the client needed a collaborative partner willing to forgo the old ways of demonstrating success and become part of a unified team collectively accountable for delivering value.
The company started with a simple whiteboard and sticky notes – one for each ticket in the backlog. There were over a thousand. Most of them had at least some work started. A daily standup was born with a simple laptop camera facing the whiteboard. Team members from the US, India, and around the world gathered for a 15-minute session to identify and remove daily obstacles.
Over time, some guiding principles stood out as having the most impact:
  • Focus on finishing over starting
  • Minimize work-in-progress (WIP)
  • Adopt a pull system
  • Reduce or eliminate switch-tasking
  • It's not a who problem; it's a what problem
Story points and daily standup meetings
The client needed to measure the performance of development teams, and to that end, they started assigning story points to tickets using numbers from the Fibonacci series. This enabled performance monitoring for things like team velocity and flow time. Additionally, it helped estimate completion dates for work items in the backlog. The 15-minute daily standup meetings that included Birlasoft and the client resulted in the rapid removal of impediments and blockers. This frequent and collaborative communication was the cornerstone of a fully engaged and aligned team.
Improving Speed and Quality
Progressing along the agile journey, the next stage of improvement was focused on speed and quality. A system was developed to monitor and visualize quality, Delivery, Innovation, Cost, and people metrics. Root Cause Analysis (RCA), Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA), and other tools were used for Continuous Improvement efforts. Happiness meetings were held to understand each team member, the pain points, and what could be done to improve things. As active participants, Birlasoft made impactful contributions toward improving the quality of life for the whole team.
Improving Predictability and Accountability
Due dates run against the grain of agile software development. With Agile, the team is assumed to work as fast as possible. Therefore, attempting to add arbitrary target due dates only adds stress, pressure, and overtime. Nevertheless, the world outside the agile team operates on a calendar schedule. Therefore, the team needed to estimate when work would be done and then be accountable for those dates.
To accomplish this, a Heijunka cycle was added to control the mix of work, break the work into manageable buckets, and deliver smaller iterations. Refinement meetings were added to ensure user stories were sufficiently understandable and had appropriate criteria for completion. Retrospectives were held to look back and evaluate how things went during a heijunka cycle. A monthly management review was conducted to report progress up and around to other stakeholders. Business relationship managers were identified and engaged to ensure proper prioritization and sufficient value was being added.
Improving Planning and Communication
Things were going well where work was fully within the SyteLine team (which had expanded to include SyteLine-adjacent software). However, when work was dependent on other teams for completion, there were often delays and unproductive waiting times.
The client began product increment planning involving all teams on a quarterly schedule. Roadmaps were communicated, and other teams could see where future work would impact them so they could incorporate it into their planning. A new separate standup was created for each team to send one or more representatives to help clear cross-team impediments. Dashboards were created within Jira to improve the visibility of problem areas.
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The Impact
With Birlasoft's involvement in implementing a more structured and collaborative software development and application maintenance process, the client now boasts a more connected and streamlined IS department.
  • Cleared a three-year backlog in 8 months
  • Reduced flow time for enhancement tickets from 21 to 4 days.
  • Lowered cost per story point by 75%
  • Improved employee morale
  • Able to partner with businesses to focus on business outcomes
  • Gained the ability to change direction or add technologies with minimal cost or disruption
  • Complementing partner Birlasoft brought in a wealth of knowledge and experience to deliver quality outcomes
Birlasoft worked side-by-side with the client through all of these changes and was instrumental in their success.
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