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Release cycle reduced from 30 days to <1 day

Aviva: Expanding, scaling and embedding Agile

Aviva needed support to germinate and propagate the seeds of its Agile transformation. We led a comprehensive transformation programme, resulting in the establishment and global roll-out of Aviva's Agile planning and delivery processes, and governance framework.


Aviva plc is a British multinational insurance company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the sixth-largest insurance company in the world measured by net premium income and has around 43 million customers across 21 countries.

The challenge

Having previously invested in widespread training in Agile techniques, Aviva had successfully undertaken a number of projects and was convinced of the benefits that could be realised from the approach. However, despite its success, Agile was only being utilised on a small percentage of the projects taking place (less than 10%). IndigoBlue was engaged to address this issue.

Our approach

Following a short, focused review, which included delivery capability, operations and business units, IndigoBlue identified that in addition to gaps in experience and expertise, the core problem was the clash between traditional governance and Agile. The applicability of the existing Agile approach was simply too narrow. Additionally, individuals were familiar with the defined process rather than the principles supporting the approach, and were therefore unable to adapt to circumstances which did not fit within an idealised Agile process.

Working with Aviva, IndigoBlue delivered a comprehensive process and governance framework for Agile projects within Aviva GI (General Insurance). This was specifically tailored to Aviva and took into account the organisational context and constraints. Importantly, it was flexible so as to allow greater Agility as Aviva matured as an Agile organisation.

Based on Adapt 2.0®, the framework extends out-of-the-box Agile. It provides management reporting, issue management, uncertainty modelling and programme initiation, all of which are essential to de-risk Agile whilst ensuring the responsiveness required to achieve reduced speed to market. It also dealt with contextual issues at Aviva such as a legacy code base, distributed development teams and third-party suppliers for implementation and test.

In addition, IndigoBlue provided training and coaching to build expertise in incremental management (rather than just basic Agile). We also provided project and programme management on specific, challenging projects (including Solvency II and Multi-Vehicle Insurance).

Training was designed for project managers, senior managers, development teams and business representatives. We trained over 350 individuals including the Head of Global Change. For this training course, 96% of training attendees indicated that the course would "change [their] approach to work"; 99% would recommend it.

Coaching was focused on the development of ‘Champions’, a select group of individuals who would regularly meet to discuss challenges and spread knowledge. These individuals would later become the ‘change agents’ within Aviva, responsible for the long-term embedding and success of the change.

Additionally, IndigoBlue provided technical specialism to support Aviva in the introduction of Agile engineering techniques and the implementation of appropriate environments. This was a particular challenge, given the complexity of the legacy code base and application suite, which included CICS Cobol. However, working with Aviva, IndigoBlue reduced the release cycle for the core commerce platform from 30 days to less than one day (a matter of hours).

The outcomes

The success of incremental approach and the application of the framework enabled Aviva to significantly broaden the applicability of the approach, and to allow Agile and non-Agile projects to work within the same structure. IndigoBlue enabled Aviva to deliver a new strategic proposition, which had previously stalled on two occasions. The governance framework has now been rolled out globally within the organisation.

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