Product Development: Modernization for Competitive Advantage

McKesson logoIn an era of unprecedented change in health care, McKesson is leading the industry in the delivery of improved health-related technology, services and ideas for businesses and patients. With a focus on creating intelligent networks that expand access, reduce waste, and bring people and information closer together, McKesson is playing a key role in defining a world of better health.

As market competition increased for McKesson’s Medical Imaging product suite and customer requests for new product features grew, it was becoming more and more challenging to maintain and provide the level of quality product that McKesson’s Medical Imaging Group (MIG) demanded of their solutions. Realizing they had outgrown the Rational Unified Process adopted years earlier and the requirement to adhere to the mandatory and stringent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards that govern the health industry, Warren Edwards, McKesson’s VP of Engineering, engaged Quadrus for its Agile knowledge and expertise to lead the modernization of MIG’s software development and project management processes. The end goal was to speed up feature delivery without compromising quality or regulatory compliance.

THE CHALLENGE


Affect a fundamental change in McKesson’s approach to product development through adoption and implementation of Agile software development and project management practices. Improve product feature release timelines without compromising quality, while still adhering to FDA industry regulated standards and requirements.

THE SOLUTION


Together, Quadrus and McKesson’s MIG team embarked on a three-phase Agile Adoption work plan to create, field test and refine, and finally ultimately rollout a comprehensive and practical Agile methodology. Formal Agile training, a customized candidate methodology aligned with FDA regulatory requirements, and refinement of the Agile candidate approach on two real software projects allowed for active refactoring and timely execution of a suitable and sustainable Agile methodology for ongoing application.

Recipe for Core Change

In moving to an Agile environment, McKesson was looking to not only change process and practices but more importantly, have MIG teams learn, embrace and integrate Agile principles into their daily operational thinking. To achieve these results, Quadrus delivered a thorough Agile training program tailored to each of MIG’s teams, defined a candidate Agile methodology that aligned with FDA regulatory requirements, and embedded Quadrus development mentors on two pilot software development projects.

Comprehensive, Practical and Immersive

A three-tactic, comprehensive approach of learn, field-test, execute proved very effective as MIG’s project managers, business analysts and development teams were engaged early and throughout the Agile adoption initiative; they could see where they fit in the overall movement towards a shared Agile mindset. Practical field-testing of the candidate Agile methodology against the backdrop of two real software projects made for valuable feedback and timely refinements to a more exacting Agile methodology. MIG’s teams were immersed in the Agile experience from both the project management and software development perspective as Quadrus’ development mentors worked closely to direct and guide MIG’s teams in daily Agile operations, and to transition the necessary Agile leadership roles to MIG’s senior project members.

Incorporating Modern Software Frameworks and Practices

Adjunct to McKesson’s desire to adopt Agile principles, MIG wanted to maintain its competitive edge by improving product quality and feature release timelines – the challenge was how to do this amidst such a significant process change. The engagement of Quadrus’ development mentors made this goal a realistic objective – in addition to Agile mentorship, Quadrus’ development mentors provided MIG’s development team with formal .NET training and led technology selection to ensure a suitable .NET development environment to allow for optimal productivity and timely release management. The introduction, training and effective implementation of .NET frameworks and tools, design patterns, software estimation, unit testing and coding best practices served as a unifying morale boost while also modernizing MIG’s technology stack and software development process.

Quicker Results, Higher Quality

With a finalized Agile methodology optimized for McKesson’s business and in-house Agile mentors at the ready, McKesson proceeded to rollout Agile across the MIG organization. Reports have it that stakeholders are delighted to see quality, working product earlier, and development teams are obtaining critical feedback early thus allowing for delivery of requested functionality in priority order.

Case Studies ENT, McKesson

Was Quadrus’ Agile Adoption program a worthwhile investment? Definitely. The program has demonstrated significant ROI – we’re seeing huge returns

Warren Edwards, VP, Engineering

What started as a daunting task for McKesson has resulted in fundamental change to how McKesson’s Medical Imaging platform operates moving forward. With an Agile methodology that aligns seamlessly with FDA regulatory and compliance requirements, and all of MIG’s teams functioning as a well-oiled machine consistently turning out high quality product feature releases, McKesson is well positioned to not only maintain, but set the standards for health care solution development.

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