Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Transforms Planning and Delivery to Drive Agility
In order to realize its vision of becoming a health system model, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) had to transform its approach to resources, work, and processes. The journey to drive business agility required a change in mindset and an investment in technology tools to enable effective delivery of products and services that improve the health and well-being of its members.
To reach its mission, Blue Cross NC re-imagined their strategy to delivery ecosystem. They realized that the shift towards continuous delivery could only happen in parallel with continuous planning, and that demanded a new operating model. With Planview, Blue Cross NC is already seeing improvements in release velocity, features delivered, and outcomes achieved, as well as cost avoidance. Blue Cross NC is relentlessly executing to achieve their vision of speed to value, quick response to market changes, scaling capacity, and fostering innovation.
“In a short period of time, we have already increased our release velocity by 10 percent compared to other projects in the portfolio, delivering 60 features in only a quarter, and have measurable cost avoidance.”
– Lilith Anderson, director of Enterprise Portfolio Management & Governance, Blue Cross NC
About Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina
Founded in 1933 and headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) manages 3.9 million members and employs over 4,700 people, making it the largest health insurer in North Carolina.
Challenge: Re-imagining What It Takes to Achieve the Mission
Blue Cross NC’s efforts to drive agility originated from the realization that its current operating model made it challenging to reach its vision of being a model for transformation in the health care industry. Executive leadership believed virtually everything would require change, including:
- the way the organization engaged and reimbursed providers to move from quantity to quality of health outcomes
- the way it used data analytics to improve health and decrease costs
- how it leveraged its digital assets to provide differentiated and personal experiences for its members
With a substantial investment in achieving these goals, leaders couldn’t understand why there weren’t enough resources to effectively implement the work. The company had to re-imagine how it would plan and define work, how it organizes resources, and how to fund work and resources to improve throughput in its portfolio, ensuring customers receive what they need.
Solution: Incorporating Continuous Planning into Continuous Delivery for Greater Agility
Blue Cross NC believed continuous delivery, supported by hybrid practices bringing together traditional portfolio management and agile practices, would allow the organization to improve speed to value, be nimbler in its market response and scale its capacity to create innovation sustainability. Lilith Anderson, director of Enterprise Portfolio Management & Governance, recognized that in order to have continuous delivery, they must also support continuous planning by re-wiring not only work and resources, but an entirely new operating model.
Their journey towards agility involved an assessment of current capabilities, defining “success,” and a coalition of leaders to champion the transformation efforts. “We looked at where project teams were leveraging certain elements of a continuous delivery-like model that we could then pilot,” says Anderson. “We then aligned technology to our architecture to ensure teams could be successful and restructured teams vertically based on roles.”
As a longtime partner with Planview, Blue Cross NC senior leadership designated Planview Portfolios™ as the source of truth for portfolio, work, and resource management. “We made sure the architecture was supportive of the user groups at each level, providing the right level of flexibility and rigor where appropriate.” Their use of Planview Portfolios will include Enterprise Architecture for capability-based planning as an input to strategic planning, as well as strategic and financial planning, and resource management that gives them confidence that work will be done in a timeframe that meets their strategic objectives.
Results: Measurable Improvements in Work Delivery and Cost Avoidance
While the road to continuous delivery and planning for greater agility is a long one, BCBS NC is already seeing benefits of their re-wired ecosystem and mindset. They have moved from five pilot teams to thirteen standing, fixedcapacity teams that are value stream aligned and multi-year funded. This represents approximately 19 percent of its shared capacity. “We have started to see gains from that,” says Anderson. “In a short period of time, we have already increased our release velocity by 10 percent compared to other projects in the portfolio, delivering 60 features in only a quarter, and have measurable cost avoidance. We consider these huge wins that propel us forward as we have greater confidence in our capabilities.”
Future: Building Momentum
Anderson believes the key to success in any transformative process is to build a coalition with motivated, creative team players from across the organization. “Momentum picks up speed by leveraging them to inspire others,” she says. Anderson and the entire team celebrate successes and learn from the things that didn’t go according to plan. Ultimately, with everyone using Planview Solutions, more people within the organization are working towards the same goals, knowing that their work is contributing to Blue Cross NC’s ability to improve the well-being of its members
To learn more about what Planview® solutions can do for your organization, visit Planview.com.