New Case Study: SAFe helps Fitbit Increase velocity by 33%

New Case Study: SAFe helps Fitbit Increase velocity by 33%

Case Studies

SAFe has been a successful story for us. It allowed us to grow our team in a seamless way that integrated cross-functional groups and aligned with the company’s long-term strategy. Fitbit has grown significantly since we adopted SAFe, and we were able to scale the process and still deliver high achievement every PI. My VP calls it the scaffolding that has helped move our team forward.”
Damian Brown, Sr. Director of Program Management Office, Fitbit


Our latest case study comes from the consumer technology market, where the pressure is on to release products ahead of major shopping events such as the year-end holiday season, Valentine’s Day, graduation, and Mother’s and Father’s Days.

At Fitbit, the challenge of meeting those targets had increased along with the company’s growth, and their Scrum efforts were not effectively scaling to meet the needs of the business and their global community of users. But in the past year, Fitbit was able to make major progress on the cadence and velocity of its development:

  • Last year, Fitbit released four new products that were positively received by consumers—a record number for the company
  • Teams now achieve five business goals per PI, on average, compared to three previously
  • Velocity increased 33 percent year over year
  • The company experienced no major impact to their website during the critical high-sales time-frame between Black Friday and the New Year
  • As for visibility, Fitbit achieved a long-term look-ahead on its product roadmap and a short-term execution plan, supporting planning and decision-making for leadership.

How did Fitbit achieve all these milestones? The company deployed SAFe in the fall of 2015. Damian Brown and Brian Hsieh at Fitbit had both seen SAFe successfully deployed at a previous company and believed it could work at Fitbit. After gaining executive buy-in, the company started with 12 Scrum teams for Program Increment planning in San Francisco.

With each PI—now up to 10—Fitbit folded in more teams and more functional business groups, including some not typically part of an Agile transformation: Firmware, Software, Design, Research, Marketing, Customer Support, Data Analytics, and Infrastructure Engineering all participate in PIs. To increase the chance of success, Fitbit trained all those who were leading PI events across multiple office locations.

With the help of SAFe, Fitbit evolved its process. It now has a faster and more flexible flow across the ecosystem, smoother scaling, improved visibility, and greater alignment across all programs.

And with higher cadence and velocity, Fitbit can more readily respond to market needs. For example, when the company noticed an opportunity to add a specific capability to its products, it brought the new feature to market in a very short time with no major bugs in internal and external testing.

Now, as the company plans for next year, it’s working toward funding value streams rather than projects.

Check out the full case study.

Many thanks to Damian Brown, Sr. Director of Program Management Office; and Brian Hsieh, Manager of Program Management Office, for sharing Fitbit’s story.

Stay SAFe,
—Dean

Author Info

Dean Leffingwell

Recognized as the one of the world’s foremost authorities on Lean-Agile best practices, Dean Leffingwell is an author, entrepreneur, and software development methodologist.

comment (2)

  1. Jason

    21 Jun 2017 - 1:13 pm

    Feel like we’re sending the wrong message here emphasizing increased velocity rather than business value.

    • Dean Leffingwell

      Dean Leffingwell

      22 Jun 2017 - 11:56 am

      Hi Jason,
      Thanks for the input. We could have quite a dialog on velocity and business value. Probable even a short book. But it’s hard to get one without the other and almost impossible to nail either one down objectively. I think the most important point is their quote “With higher cadence and velocity, Fitbit can more readily respond to market needs.” There has to be business value in that.

      That’s what we all strive for.

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