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How Instana, High-Growth SaaS Company, Continuously Speeds Up their Ability to Deliver Value

Introduction

Instana is a high-growth SaaS company with over $57M funding and 200+ employees in a little over four years. In 2019, the Engineering team had more than 15 teams distributed across various European and USA locations and time zones, with no easy way to understand the flow of work. To enable Engineering to accelerate their sustainable growth, Instana’s management saw the need for an improved value delivery system.

 

The Journey to Process Stability and Continuous Improvement

Looking for a method that will provide the needed set of tools to get there, they saw Kanban and its evolutionary process improvement approach as the logical choice. The introduction of Kanban and Kanbanize gave Instana instant detailed visibility in its Engineering operations. Furthermore, it enabled the teams to achieve process stability, focus on value delivery, and institutionalize continuous improvement efforts. 

Transforming Processes into Pull Systems 

By transforming one particular process of their operations into a pull system, Instana's Engineering department managed to stabilize the previous wild fluctuations in demand and remove the mountains of piled up unfinished work.Pull-System
Key Results: 
- Stabilized demand fluctuations
- Improved process stability 
- Improved predictability 
- Teams gained control over their workflow

Process Automation

To further optimize their workflows, Instana focused on automating processes by applying custom scrips and Kanbanize Business Rules where possible. This way they managed to unburden the teams from manual tasks and allowed them to focus on delivering value.

Key Results:
- Enabled teams to focus their resources on delivering customer value
- Further improved process stability
- Enabled reliable forecasting when work items are expected to enter and exit the system
- Kanbanize became the single point of truth for answering Engineering performance-related questions

Closing the Feedback Loop on Various Levels

Introducing Service Delivery Reviews as part of the work process helped make sure all work items would be reviewed before being archived. Furthermore, by applying stickers and comments inside the Kanbanize system, the Operations Review feedback loop was also optimized.

Key Results:
- Better alignment
- Continuous improvement of the value delivery processes
- All work items go through review before being archived

Data-Driven Continuous Process Improvement 

As part of the Kanban implementation, Instana's teams were coached to use Kanbanize analytics as a source for process performance insights. This way, the teams established the practice of using Kanbanize analytics to evolve their processes in a data-driven manner.

Key Results:
- Data-based process improvement efforts
- Proactive risk management
- Clear overview of the performance

Aiming for Portfolio Visibility

Using the parent-child linking option in Kanbanize gave Instana visibility into what the teams are executing on a portfolio level. This new level of transparency allowed for better alignment between strategy and operations and ensured focused efforts on a global level.portfolio-management
Key Results:
- Better alignment of strategic goals and daily operations
- Focused efforts on a company level

 

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