From promise to impact
De Volksbank, the parent company of SNS, ASN Bank, RegioBank en BLG Wonen, stands for ‘human-sized banking’ and has big ambitions. By 2025 de Volksbank wants to be the bank with the most robust customer relations and a well-documented societal impact, as was articulated in their strategic plan ‘From promise to impact.’ As they put it at de Volksbank themselves: “With everything we do, we wonder: how does this benefit Dutch society? As a whole. As a bank, we can be the frontrunners, with all our employees, four banking brands, our customers, and everybody around that.”
RegioBank, SNS, and ASN Bank have recently been awarded the title of the most customer-friendly bank in the Netherlands.
Transforming to agile
The strategy focuses on the growth priorities of the four banking brands and the five fundamental changes that go with it. One of these key changes is “client centrism”. The organization becomes more dynamic and client-centered through its agile transformation. This is called the “Volksbank model of collaboration”; independent, responsible teams comprise this innovative organization's core. A framework has been set up to achieve this goal, and Jira-software was selected as the tool to support this new work philosophy.
Further development and implementation of Jira
Jira was already used in de Volksbank, mainly in its IT departments. One of Jira’s functionalities allows to couple teams’ work to de Volksbank’s strategic themes. To realize this coupling, a team of Ordina has closely collaborated with de Volksband to further develop the existing - SAFe-based - working method and translate it to a new design in Jira.
The implementation of this design (Jira 2.0) took place in two stages:
In the first stage, IT teams transitioned to Jira 2.0. Ordina has fully designed and implemented the tool for the teams involved. The result is that more than 90 teams have a Jira-project at their disposal to manage their backlog and work. Furthermore, this work can be coupled with the overarching epics, initiatives, and the bank's strategic key themes. To support the portfolio guidance of specific value streams, an additional 10 Jira-project were designed. With this, the first step is taken towards the ambition of leading the organization based on delivered value. Practically this means that employees don’t count their hours anymore. It’s not about how many hours you work but about the value, you deliver as a team.
After the implementation of Jira 2.0., the main challenge became the optimal usage of tools. This meant a change in mindset and behavior. The design was made explicitly for de Volksbank, so it was not readily mappable to known agile scaling frameworks. It was important to show employees the philosophy and underlying system. De Volksbank and Ordina have worked closely to achieve this with training and knowledge-sharing sessions for different shareholders.
A well-designed tooling is essential. It has to support the team’s requirements while delivering unambiguous information to the organization. This can be tricky to accomplish. A uniform tool forces an organization to make choices. How do you want to work? Which information do you need to document? Een uniforme tool dwingt de organisatie om keuzes te maken. All this requires extra attention for data quality and the tool’s usage.
– Ariane Voorbeijtel Cannenburg, Atlassian consultant, Ordina –
The second stage started after De Volksbank wholly transferred to a uniform way of working. After this transformation, there was no longer a difference between IT and business inside the teams. They are multidisciplinary teams, or ‘Customer Journey Teams’. Practically, this meant that many newly formed teams needed to be supported in their work by the tooling. All teams required a well-designed Jira 2.0 project. Ordina was a part of the team that realized this.
The portfolio is designed for the optimal support of the teams. By registering all strategic changes in Jira, rapports are generated automatically. Teams don’t have to spend more time writing rapports manually.
– Ton Hagens, EC Lead DVM, De Volksbank –
A total of more than 130 teams are working with Jira 2.0 now. These are Customer Journey Teams but also Leadership Teams. This last group is using Jira 2.0 to support portfolio guidance for the more major initiatives at the bank. They are responsible for prioritizing the work at their level. This enables the teams to focus on the work that yields the highest return on value.
Jira 2.0’s adoption was implemented in the entire organization. The collaboration of Ordina and de Volksbank was a crucial factor in this. Angelique van den Heuvel, manager of the project of which Jira 2.0’s implementation was a part, has guided this trajectory with unwavering commitment. She made it possible for us, the Ordina team, to focus entirely on the design and implementation.
Ordina’s expert knowledge of the tool and the collaboration with key players from the organization were essential factors in laying the foundation (design) to support the backlog and portfolio management. This strong foundation has proven crucial for getting broad support for the design, thus enabling the success of Jira 2.0.
– Angelique van den Heuvel, Project Manager at de Volksbank –
We can look back at a successful trajectory, contributing directly to de Volksbank’s ambitions to be an agile and client-centered organization.