From Waterfall to River – A story of transitioning to flow

The on-going journey of a transition from quarterly batched releases and teams working in silos to our target state of a mature DevOps organization from two points of view. Suzanne is our long term employee and Application Development Manager. Sarah is a new employee to Starbucks working daily with the teams as a scrum master and transformation coach on this DevOps journey.

We have a team with a deep need for increased agility, closer connection to their customer and move away from tribal knowledge to building it up instead. This team is one who prior to a year ago had no experience with Agile or DevOps and many of our team members have a 10+ year tenure within our group.

We will share the experience of starting with Scrum and the transition to flow we are currently in the throes of. Our methods and learning along the way to understand our value stream, remove waste, educate our team by living the Starbucks mission and executing these through a lenses of humanity.



Sarah Shewell


Sarah Shewell is a leader with over 18 years of experience in software delivery. She made a recent career change to Change Manager and Agile Coach at Starbucks. This allows her to have deep focus on the process of team transformation. At Starbucks she is working with the Point of Sale area on their journey to a mature DevOps team. Prior to joining Starbucks she was a Senior Manager of Customer Mobile Applications at Nordstrom. She was a leader of engineering as they transitioned to a DevOps and Lean organization. Sarah was a frequent collaborator and facilitator with the Nordstrom People and Innovation Labs. She also spent 13 years in a variety of technology leadership roles at T-Mobile and Western Wireless experiencing the rapid growth of mobile telecommunications as an industry.

Sarah believes the key to deep career satisfaction is found when there is true end to end ownership and understanding of the product you are working with. It is with this in mind that drives her to help teams realize their full potential and live DevOps in practice.


Suzanne Nielsen


Suzanne is a technology solutions manager in Retail Technology at Starbucks in a role where she leads multiple Agile DevOps style teams responsible for enhancing and supporting the Point of Sale (POS) system. The last two years she helped lead her teams through the adoption of Agile methodologies and most recently in beginning the DevOps transformation. Prior to November Suzanne managed the analyst team responsible for requirements, design, configuration and support of the current POS system which began rollout in 2009 and is deployed in over 10,000 stores in four countries, supporting multiple brands and unique concepts.

Suzanne joined Starbucks in 1998 working in Business Intelligence for her first 10 years in a variety of roles including developer, analyst, and project and program manager. Prior to Starbucks, she spent ten years at Boeing in a variety of technical and lead roles in accounting, financial, reporting and data warehousing systems.

Suzanne is a native Seattleite and has a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Washington and a master’s in software engineering from Seattle University.