In rapidly changing markets, companies need to respond quickly and efficiently, while focusing on new customer needs. To meet these requirements, PostFinance relies on agile working methods in its innovation business. But how do you create agility throughout the entire company, across departments and disciplines, and in collaboration between different teams?
Agile working – from strategy to implementation
Agile working – and not just in individual teams, but across all roles involved in innovation. PostFinance has rolled out an Enterprise Agile Delivery process that makes it possible to consistently implement innovations and development projects in an agile manner. The video shows how this works in practice.
Small work steps to innovation
“We use the Enterprise Agile Delivery process (EAD process) – which describes how we implement new products and services in an agile way – from the initial idea to commissioning”, explains Fabian Probst, product owner of the EAD process. Essentially, the process is based on a customer-centred mindset and allows innovation projects to be continuously adapted to newly acquired knowledge and thus driven forward based on clear priorities through many feedback rounds in small work steps.
Absolute commitment to customer needs
A key aspect of the entire process is consistent focus on the customer.
On one hand, various roles in the process take on the task of representing the customer's perspective. On the other hand, customers are actively involved in the process as often as possible. This ranges, for example, from questioning and observing the target group at the beginning of a project, to the testing of prototypes by customers for user-friendliness, to rolling out a function in two different forms in order to find out which is better received by customers.
The process itself is also committed to agility
When designing the EAD process, PostFinance followed well-established frameworks. These provide a predefined framework in which companies can set up their agile processes. Those familiar with frameworks such as SAFe or Disciplined Agile (DA) will recognize some of the terms, working methods and processes in the PostFinance EAD process. “However, we deliberately only integrated those aspects of the framework that fit the company and the culture, while deliberately omitting others,” emphasizes Fabian Probst. While consistently committed to the principle of agility, the process itself is not set in stone: “If we agree that a desired effect can be better achieved in a different way, the process will be adapted. Every employee can contribute to this continuous improvement – for example by participating in the Communities of Practices.”
“Being Agile” is just as vital as “Doing Agile”
As well as the processes, dealing with values and principles is also of fundamental importance. Olivia Zimmermann, who works on the internal project “Transformation into an agile, project-based operation”, explains: “Without reflecting on our approach and attitude and switching to an agile mindset, processes alone will not achieve the full desired impact.” It requires, for example, a new understanding of leadership that moves away from command and control and towards distributed leadership and distributed decision-making competence. "To succeed here, we must maintain trust, feedback, transparency and continuous learning as the cornerstones of our culture, which in turn require reflection on our behaviour and attitudes.”
Are you curious about how agile working functions at PostFinance?
The video (above) shows how agile working functions in practice. It explains how cooperation works in the innovation business and provides an overview of how a strategy ensures that a product or service goes from the initial idea to implementation and then to the customer. A fictitious example is used. It also shows how PostFinance succeeds in using the process to include different stakeholders, skilfully deal with dependencies, and support the different roles in coming together.
The following are the main terms from the video
Area of action owners are responsible for the impact goals to be achieved with the available innovation funds – for example, the impact that PostFinance would like to achieve on customers through digitization in retail banking.
When implementing an innovation project, the BOs always take the customer's perspective and are responsible for the impact of their areas of responsibility on customers and other stakeholders.
The AAOs and BOs implement innovation projects (PIs) based on a roadmap. All PIs that PostFinance is working on are displayed transparently in the portfolio backlog.
Features describe a functionality that gives the customer a specific benefit.
Epics describe the contributions made to the feature by the participating teams. Epics are further divided into stories.
The solution intent creates a common understanding among the teams involved, the desired solution and the procedure. The solution intent (SI) is a “living” document and is constantly updated with the latest knowledge.
Drumbeats are three-month cycles in which the PIs are usually implemented in several short sprints.
A solution team comprises several delivery teams and is therefore a scaling level.
A delivery team is an interdisciplinary, stable team comprising a maximum of ten employees who have all the skills to develop the corresponding product. This can either be a service that is used in a market product or a market product itself.
Every drumbeat starts with a big room planning (BRP) session. The solution teams and delivery teams as well as the stakeholders are represented in the BRP. Depending on size, the event lasts a maximum of two days. In the BRP, goals for the drumbeat are agreed, dependencies are clarified and a joint plan is created for the upcoming work.
In the review, results are regularly presented to the stakeholders and feedback is obtained, which is taken into account in further implementation.
Olivia Zimmermann is the change and communication product owner at PostFinance for the “Transformation to an agile project-based operation” project.
Fabian Probst is the product owner for the EAD process at PostFinance.