Case Study: Sphere’s Custom Atlassian Solution for Delta Dental

Delta Dental

ABOUT DELTA DENTAL

Delta Dental is the largest dental insurance company in the country. This organization offers national dental coverage to more than one-third of the estimated 212 million Americans with dental insurance. It’s a not-for-profit organization that includes some for-profit affiliates as member companies. Additionally, it administers program and reporting systems that give both groups and individuals quality dental benefits with outstanding customer service.

Since 2014, Delta Dental has been facing a significant digital transformation. The company’s growth necessitated the expansion of their software development and IT teams. Sphere Software began collaboration with Delta Dental by assisting with the first phase of their digital transformation — migration from a legacy bug tracking system, Rally ( CA Technologies ), to Atlassian’s Jira ( with a customized Confluence solution ). Once the first phase of this project was successfully completed by the Sphere Software team, Delta Dental increased the efficiency with which they managed their software teams and product releases. In phase two, the senior management team asked Sphere for additional consulting and training on Agile Development, in addition to Jira and Confluence configurations and customization.

 

THE CHALLENGE

Since 2014, Delta Dental has been facing a significant digital transformation. The company’s growth necessitated the expansion of their software development and IT teams. Delta Dental required a sophisticated tool for managing all the development projects and initiatives, as well as a top-level collaboration platform for document management. To implement this solution, they first needed assistance with the migration from their legacy bug tracking system. In phase two, the senior management team required additional consulting and training on Agile Development, as well as assistance with finding a collaboration platform for document management.

DISCOVERY

When the Sphere Software team met with Delta Dental stakeholders during the discovery phase, they identified specific pain points regarding document management, project management, and product management. Sphere recommended customized workflows and boards to track case and development cycles, while enabling traceability across teams. Integration with Confluence for product requirements and document collaboration was scoped to ensure a consistent source of project data. Additionally, Sphere suggested several Atlassian Marketplace add-ons for program management in Jira. Following our discovery session, we recommended a solution that would deliver Delta Dental’s desired customization, functionality, and scalability to streamline their processes and mitigate bottlenecks in their workflow.

IMPLEMENTATION

After identifying Delta Dental’s pain points within their current Jira/Confluence configuration and workflows, Sphere Software offered a solution that leveraged robust project planning and tracking. Sphere recommended customized options in Jira, including conditions, validators, and post-functions to more accurately reflect their desired workflow. Jira and Confluence customizations brought all of Delta Dental’s teams together on a single platform. As a result, Delta Dental’s development team benefited from multiple workflows while the management team was able to effectively monitor their progress.

Below are several examples of the workflows that the Sphere team created:

● Story / Bug Workflow helped Delta Dental’s Business Analysts track and plan all of their development work across multiple workstreams.
● General Workflow defined different Project Management milestones such as Action Items and Risks. This approach offered many capabilities for mitigating project blockers for the Project Management team.
● Hotfix Workflow was designed to quickly track critical bug fixes across different business units. A unified workflow allowed Delta Dental to obtain accurate reporting and manage bottlenecks.

Jira customization and enhancements were implemented in the following areas:

● Issue Types and Schemes
● Workflow Schemes
● Screen and Issue Type Screen Schemes
● Adding Miscellaneous Custom Fields and Fields Configurations
● Issue Security
● Permissions Schemes
● Notifications Schemes
● Kanban and Scrum Boards
● Dashboards
● Add-ons (System and User-Installed)
● Global Permissions
● Project Roles
● Backup Policies
● Indexing and Logging
● Global Mail Settings
● User Management and LDAP

Workflow changes allowed QA and UAT teams to gain more visibility on the staging environment status, along with increased transparency for each of the development phases. Additionally, Sphere coached Delta’s Scrum Masters on the best practices for Agile with Jira Software while defining their Scrum processes using Board features.

Integration with Confluence was crucial to provide the necessary connection between the requests and initiatives made by business stakeholders and the activities in Jira to deliver them. Sphere’s Confluence configuration allowed Delta to switch from printed documents to using a digital collaboration platform, which decreased overhead and increased efficiency.

Sphere Software made improvements in the following areas:

● General Configuration
● Global Templates and Blueprints
○ Sphere suggested and implemented a set of custom templates for tracking project documentation throughout all phases: Initiation, Planning, Execution, and Control. This solution filled the gap between business stakeholders and software project managers.

● Global and Space Permissions
● User Management and LDAP
● Macros

NEW PROOF OF CONCEPT

Sphere Software created a proof of concept for Delta Dental’s business cycle. The application configurations Sphere presented included C-level Confluence spaces with business templates and internal integrations, as well as interlinks with Jira Software projects to help Delta Dental gain a portfolio management view across different business areas.

After thorough planning, Sphere implemented new application settings that came together seamlessly. Delta Dental leveraged Sphere’s recommendations, which resulted in instant improvements to the development and IT processes. They also gained the flexibility to manage dozens of large Jira Software projects. All of these enhancements were successfully implemented with legacy data intact.

KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER

Sphere Software provided a set of short training demos for Jira Software, and held personalized sessions across teams to accommodate various experience levels. Finally, Sphere created a sophisticated knowledge base to empower every Delta Dental user, from software engineers to salespeople, with Jira and Confluence best practices.

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