Scaled Agile Transition

How a government department transition to agile for its program delivery led to increased productivity and better quality

The Situation

ZXM was engaged by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to help them develop transition to agile ways of working and develop their agile capabilities at scale.  One of the ATO’s largest public program. This program had traditionally been delivered using a waterfall approach and the Executive wanted to move the program towards an agile framework in 2018 in order to improve speed of delivery, collaboration between business and EST stakeholders as well improve quality and value delivered.

ZXM was engaged by the Executive to work with the leadership team to develop the strategy for the rollout of agile across the branch. The Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) , was to be transitioned across over 23 delivery areas with Scrum being the approach at the team-level.

The Solution

The ZXM team worked collaboratively with Executive and Directors to develop and implement the agile transition strategy. Rather than spend months scoping a whole program, we started with a few initial agile teams. Once learnings have been gathered from these initial teams and their initial agile practices, we worked with leadership to scale to the program to roll out agile across 12 agile teams within 3 months.
We started small with the basic Scrum framework and then added scaling patterns as the teams matured. We were able to fast track agile teams set up by deploying proven support material, including ZXM’s agile checklists, role definitions, and team blueprints to kick-start the program and its teams. Combined with our Agile Essentials training course, we can help new agile teams get started in 48 hours. Our agile transition for the program approach involved:

  • Program-wide prioritisation for work across the 23 delivery areas by their Program Management Group and set up pipeline team to develop features.
  • Strategies for Executives to promote consistency of alignment to portfolio outcomes across diverse teams employing different agile frameworks.
  • Directors’ planning to identify key benefits and outcomes that can be delivered through an Agile transition and rollout across the Branch.
  • Business stakeholder workshops to improve alignment between team, program and portfolio requirements for Release Candidates .
  • Agile planning approaches to deliver the program, including resources and team configurations, legislative imperatives and milestones, capabilities and value stream identification.
  • Agile coaching and training for Executives, Directors and teams, including Lean Leadership, Scrum, Kanban and SAFe®.
  • Working with the program layers to structure work to enable reporting requirements to provide metrics to executives to support decision making including a product view as well as a release candidate view of delivery.

The Results

ZXM’s coaching and support developing and implementing the agile transition for the program resulted in:

  • Improved clarity and transparency of the work ahead for the entire program in one single product backlog that was prioritised by value
  • Improved understanding of dependencies between teams and impacted delivery areas
  • Increased the productivity of agile teams by an additional 25% 
  • Improved the quality of the program’s outputs, seeing a dramatic decrease in downstream defects  for TT18 Q2 release compared to 2017 release. 
  • Implementation and adherence to definition of done testing integration guidelines earlier meant all defects that were identified needed to be resolved by the team within the sprint before it met “done’ criteria. 
  • Picking up defects earlier and collaboration with business stakeholders at Sprint review, meant that few defects were being picked up downstream.
  • Improved Business and agile team collaboration. 

This program has continued on their agile journey and in 2019 has continued to improve quality and reduce defects showing this was a repeatable and sustained uplift in capability and delivery.

The success of the program moving to agile, led to a number of other programs across the ATO
moving towards agile approaches. ZXM coaches were able to support building internal capability of ATO
staff in key roles such as Scrum masters, Product Owners, RTE and Product Managers. ZXM actively
shared knowledge and developed artefacts to be shared across ATO programs to provide greater consistency and standardisation of implementation of ATO’s scaled agile framework which is now contributing to the building an enterprise wide capability in agile.

Faster Time to Deliver

Productivity increase of 25% due to faster team level decisions - more autonomy with less duplication and handovers.

Reduced Costs

Less over time needed in lead up to the release to fix defects meaning less re-work.


Decrease in Defects

60% decrease in defects within 12 months yielding significantly lower risks for integration

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