The medical division of an international insurance company in Hong Kong decided to use Scrum implementation to improve business processes while minimizing costs and speeding up processes related to health insurance services.
What was the challenge before implementing Scrum?
The organization had high costs per claim and consequently the costs of the business increased. They needed to speed up their processes for health services and complaints handling in order to:
This change also required significant human resources within the organization: this included brokers, customer service, IT specialists and colleagues from the operations team.
Before they introduced Scrum, team members worked within a fixed, predefined framework, and there wasn’t communication or collaboration between people in the local and regional offices. This contributed to the problem that customer service was inundated with complaints from clients, which, if not handled with the right quality and speed, resulted in a poor customer experience. Furthermore, there was no proper process in place to measure progress.
To solve the problems, the CEO decided to implement Scrum: to bring the teams together and launch an agile transformation to improve the whole organisation. Some of the project teams within the organisation had used Scrum before, but they were not focused on delivering value to the customer, but simply followed the Scrum guide. They also didn’t adhere to the Scrum values in their work, which created significant challenges in terms of both transparency and trust.
The solution lies in Scrum
The biggest challenge was that they had to bring all the scattered teams together when starting the transformation. Some of the team members were based outside of the HQ, so in order to bring everyone together they decided to hold a Design Thinking workshop. The primary goal of this workshop was to get the team members to start thinking as a team, with an agile mindset, and to understand the customer journey and its critical points. This not only helped to improve processes, but also developed teamwork and customer focus.
Building your first Scrum team
The very first step was to set up a Scrum team, consisting of a Scrum Master, a Product Owner (who was also the CEO of the organisation) and the developers. Between the developers were, two data analytics specialists, a data analytics manager, a clinical network specialist, a physician and a nurse. The team took time to adapt to Scrum, as they had never worked in an agile framework as a team. They wanted to use Scrum to repair a broken organisational culture and to create a customer-, and results-focused organization, and to create greater transparency and to move to a more agile way of thinking and working.
They worked in two-week sprints, and this was the first time they had completed something tangible as a team in 2 weeks. They set sprint goals and worked together to achieve them. In addition, all Scrum events were held, which created transparency even though they worked online, because of the coronavirus.
The team entrusted the Scrum Master to organize all Scrum events and meetings, so he worked with the team from the beginning, and in this way they could build trust together, which later helped the whole team to become self-managing. They also prepared the team to focus on the sprint goal and emphasized the importance of self-management/self-organization, so after a while they soon started to organize meetings on their own. They abandoned the traditional task-oriented approach and shifted to a value-based approach.
At the end of each sprint, all stakeholders, including legal, sales and marketing, risk and operations, joined the sprint evaluation and provided feedback on progress and on problems, thus helping the Scrum team. Most of the team members involved in the project felt that the sprint evaluation was useful because it provided transparency on the (Done) tasks that the team completed every two weeks and allowed them to share their feedbacks. They had never experienced this in traditional projects.
Evaluation of the sprint
Examples of successful sprints
When the transformation started, one of the first tasks was to improve cooperation and transparency between the teams. Because of this several knowledge-sharing meetings were held, with one or more people representing each team. This allowed them to learn from each other and increase transparency, both within the organization and in terms of customer experience.
The products on which the Scrum team has built weren’t software products, but were all related to specific business processes. An example of a product delivered by the team is a data model that was created to measure the cost of each claim to see which medical procedure resulted the most claims. Before this was created, the data was scattered in different places and there was no consistency in how it was collected, measured and resolved. The data analytics lead and clinical scientists built the framework and algorithm that allowed them to capture this data in a transparent and consistent way.
Successful sprint goals
A good example as a sprint’s goal is to communicate more clearly with customers. Communication included PR communication published on the different platforms of the organization (websites, flyers, social media and other offline collaborations). This goal probably drive to a better customer experience. So in this particular Sprint, the developers worked with the marketing team to update, clarify and simplify communications. The sales team was sometimes involved in the Sprint as they also interacted with customers on a daily basis. A similar process was used to review contract terms in collaboration with their legal department.
Another Sprint goal was to improve the processes by which clients are referred from the hospital to the company. So in this Sprint, they reviewed existing processes and they provided training on them to team members in the medical and surgical center so they could refer more clients to the organization. The Scrum team also developed an incentive framework for the existing and new processes.
"By shifting to an agile mindset and incorporating Scrum values into their work, the team became more focused on results, built trust within the team, and were able to improve business processes and reduce costs," said the Scrum Master.
Results of the Scrum’s implementation
The company is still using Scrum today to continuously improve business processes and accelerate their responsiveness. The case study is a successful example of Scrum implementation.