How value replaces projects in agile organizations

How value replaces projects in agile organizations

Swisscom is the leading telecommunications company in Switzerland. Within the Enterprise Customers business unit at Swisscom, the Online Interaction Management team manages the online experience for major customers. The current aim is to optimize the different communication channels, in order to guide customers away from traditional support via hotline or mail, to web-based self-service portals. For this purpose, the various web portals are continuously improved and expanded.

As some business areas of the Swisscom already have made positive experiences with agile procedures, it was decided to create an agile organization instead of five separate agile projects. Its aim is the continuous development of the portals and the improvement of user experience without start/stop delays and the resource overhead of parallel projects. An agile expert of Q_PERIOR consulting was appointed for the implementation of this transition and the subsequent coaching. In contrast to the project approach, in an agile organization, the requirements are less focused on, but rather the implementing team or the organization. Individual resources are not allocated to requirements. Instead, stable, cross-functional teams are formed and budgeted, which can map the entire added value chain of a product (e.g. portal). These teams continuously receive new requirements and implement these. The result is a continuous value stream.

Parallel projects compare against agile organisations

Based on the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), the model for the future cooperation was developed in first workshops and adapted to the needs of Swisscom. The result was an agile map with initially three teams, who work in parallel and in synchronized iterations according to SCRUM principles. The Program Board is subordinated to the teams. This is a body which forms the funnel for all requirements to the organization. This Board includes, among other, the product owners of the individual teams, who, together with the product manager, prioritize new topics and bring these to their teams. Outside of the organization, a steering board monitors the goal achievements and provides the budget.

Success factors for the introduction of an agile organization

To bring about such an organizational change, some essential points are required:

  • The management and team leaders of the line complicity trust the new structure and agree with it
  • Only persons who are available at least 50% of the time and who have the clear aim of fully integrating it are part of the organization

  • All organization members are informed. For this, workshops in various granularity levels are held, from management to team level

  • A ramp-up phase has been taken into account, which allows the teams to find themselves and to take on the new methodology and the new mindset
  • Eine Ramp-up-Phase ist einkalkuliert, die den Teams erlaubt, sich zu finden und die neue Methodik und das neue Mindset zu verinnerlichen
  • After the transition, the organization is supported by a coach until the processes and mindsets have become established

In addition to the iterations of the teams, the so-called program increments (PIs) represent the heartbeat of the organization. These comprise exactly four iterations and form the team-wide planning level. ALL members of the agile organization come together in person in the PI Planning for one day, and together, plan the content of the following PI.

This meeting is the basis for the joint work and is a special experience for every team member“, says Andreas Paul, Senior Consultant in the Project Management Excellence business unit. “Often colleagues meet here for the first time in many years of cooperation.

At the end of the day, all participants may express their confidence in achieving the planned goals, if sufficient confidence is expressed, the work on the PI contents can start. In 8 weeks the cycle starts again.

We successfully held the first PI Planning on 04/12/2017 with over 30 participants. Here are some impressions:

This completes the first phase of the transformation. The next phase includes the contextual coaching of the project members and the continuous improvement of the agile methodology. For this, the Q_PERIOR consultants accompany the team in the practical implementation of their theoretical knowledge so that they are able to work independently according to SAFe. For the future, it is planned to connect additional teams to the agile organization.

Event note:

Together with Swisscom, Q_PERIOR would like to give a presentation on our approach and the background of an agile organization, in October at the PM Forum in Nuremberg.

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Q_PERIOR – Your point of contact when it comes to agility

Have you already implemented first agile projects in your company and would like to structure your organization more agile? Yes? Then do not hesitate to contact us! Q_PERIOR guides companies across industries on their path to agility – From assessment workshops in departments to the complete transformation of an organization, to an agile value stream. We look forward to your challenge.