Scaling Agile at Belfius Bank

“I would certainly recommend Targetprocess to all kinds of companies who are looking for a solution for their agile way of working, implementing SAFe, ensuring active collaboration between business and IT, and working on transparency and priorities. ”


Could you speak about yourself and your role in the company?

I’m Peggy Goossens. I’m working at Belfius Bank as Head of Portfolio Management Office in IT. And in that role I am also responsible for the agile transformation within Belfius Bank.

What is Belfius Bank?

Belfius is a banking insurance group. Totally owned by the Belgian federal state. Belfius is as a bank serving all the components of the Belgian economy and we’re, for instance, the first public bank and the second largest retail bank. And Belfius is and, certainly, wants to remain the pioneer in the mobile and digital Financial Services in Belgium.

Agile Transformation at Belfius

Why did the bank management decide to undergo an agile transformation?

Well, the main reasons for undertaking the agile transformation within the bank was, first of all, staying future-proof as we want in the future also the same good results as we have today. And as markets and competition evolve very quickly, we have to make sure that we deliver value at a constant pace and agile is helping us with that. The second element, is the investment in our human capital because it’s quite crucial and is even key in the innovative markets in which we are working.

Can you say a few words about the choice of the scaled agile framework?

We have chosen the SAFe framework in order to roll out or implement the agile delivery model in Belfius because it’s a framework that is well documented and because it is also capable of supporting hierarchical organizations. However, we didn’t implement SAFe as such, we used it as a basis for building our own Belfius agile delivery model which was adapted to our context. For instance, we use three layers instead of four. We started with three because that, for the projects we have and the structure we have, was the appropriate level of complexity. We also worked on the split of several roles because we had started from the actual organization we had at the bank. And we wanted to make a big change but not a real big bang in order to accept or let accept the change. So we chose Accenture to support us in this setup of the agile transformation within Belfius Bank. They supported us in building of Belfius’ agile delivery model, in putting our structures in place and in the transformation itself by giving all support in the inception phases, the training sessions and the coaching.

Software to Support the Agile Transformation

What was the business challenge for a good tool?

We found out very quickly that when implementing the Belfius delivery model we needed a tool that could support Belfius’ agile delivery model, the agile way of working. And in the tool we had, this was not possible. So we went on the markets and looked for other possibilities and some main elements for which we searched were having one centralized tool in which business and IT people could work together making a good transparency possible for all colleagues and all members working on projects irrespective of the level they’re working on. The tool was to give this good transparency and also make it possible to manage priorities. So that was really key in our choice.

Could you share your experience with Apptio Targetprocess as a vendor?

In the search for a new tool we launched an RFP. First of all, we had to make the RFP with all functionalities we wanted to have in the tool. And then we launched it at the markets with the request for having the answers and, secondly, also for having a concrete demo of the results because you can write everything on paper but in a demo you can really find out the real added value of a tool. This process took approximately four to five months. We have chosen Apptio Targetprocess because during the RFP we found out that they were very responsive. The answers provided were very complete and during the demo we were, well, surprised with the professionalism they showed. In comparison with the other tools we had seen, one very important element during the demo was the fact that every question received immediately a solution in the tool. In real-time the tool was adapted and the flexibility of the tool was proven. So that was really crucial.

Why did you finally choose Apptio Targetprocess software?

We finally chose Apptio Targetprocess for several reasons. First of all, that it is one tool and it’s not a combination of several tools. One tool is almost always easier to put in place and to give training to people, so it was very important for us. Secondly, the fact that the transparency using the tool was really going to increase on all levels – from higher management to the developers and analysts and the teams. The tool which is giving an important asset on visualization so you have all the data in the tool and with some requests which are not complex, you can find immediately the visuals giving you the answers you’re looking for. So that’s really nice because it’s easy to follow up for everyone in the tool. It’s also easy to create these visuals on a day-to-day basis. And then, last but not least, the support Apptio Targetprocess is offering during setup and on a day-to-day basis. At any time someone is available for answering the questions you have.

Current Situation

At which stage of the agile transformation are you currently?

At this moment we’re finalizing the first phase of the agile transformation. All business and IT people working on the delivery of IT projects (and in total we are talking about 1,300 users in Apptio Targetprocess), they all went through the phase of inception training and coaching. Now the next phase is, of course, to guarantee that this way of working stays, ensure the long-term adoption and for that we will use communities of practice, management of KPIs, and coaching, if needed, of course.

Which departments and teams in your company are using Apptio Targetprocess?

Apptio Targetprocess is used by, well, quite a lot of people within Belfius Bank. And it’s because, of course, we have incorporated the scaled agile model into our delivery model. So we have the Epic owners on the portfolio layer who are visualizing their epics in the system managing their priorities, and we also make it a bank-wide priority for all epic owners. So that was quite important for us and it’s working very well. Then on the program layer, we also have business and IT working together where we have the feature owner making priorities on features and MPI’s and then the business and IT people working on analysis or RTE who’s working on the coordination of delivery. And then the test manager who’s managing the end-to-end testing, and then, of course, the teams. We have quite a lot of teams in different domains. We have a set up where we always have the product owner, the scrum master, the developers and analysts working together. So the number of people is high, the diversity of people working with Apptio Targetprocess is also very high, but it’s going well. Everyone is working together.

What business challenges are solved with Apptio Targetprocess?

We use Apptio Targetprocess from the start of the process. Once the strategy has been decided. All IDs can be handled and introduced in Apptio Targetprocess. They are prioritized by each business line depending on the strategy they have, worked out and transformed into epics which are mature enough to start the complete process. All the data which is then gathered and managed in Apptio Targetprocess is used, of course, in the big room planning exercise where epic owners always start with the business story and use all this information at the end of the big room planning to outline the results and what will be the outcome in the following three months. They use that information to put in their reports for higher management.

How do you personally as Head of PMO benefit from Apptio Targetprocess on a daily basis?

Within PMO in IT we also use Apptio Targetprocess. First of all, in order to follow up on the agile transformation and to give some directions on the prioritization process. In order to have the same basis for all the employees, we use Apptio Targetprocess for all these things. And we use Apptio Targetprocess also in the discussions we have with business and IT, in the coaching discussions, in discussions on continuous improvement because we’re still adapting the tool and making new visuals in order to give all the different roles these standard reports that they really need and then they can adapt for themselves and create new ones if they need extra information. And, last but not least, we treat our own backlog within PMO in IT also in the tool. So we’re in the tool on a daily basis.

Have you seen the benefits of transition from traditional PPM to agile PPM by using SAFe and Apptio Targetprocess?

Since we started this agile transformation and started working with Apptio Targetprocess we see concrete results happening. We see that, based on the transparency, which is increasing, we have on the Epic owner level, for instance, much more discussion and transparency on the strategy to follow not only within each portfolio, but also overall, across different portfolios, which is, of course, important for the bank as a total. We also see that collaboration of business and IT is more intense. Discussions are made at the right moments. Some risks are discovered earlier. And that we can make the necessary changes to cover these risks in the value chain, in the rollout of the projects.

Recommendations for other companies

Would you recommend Apptio Targetprocess? If yes, to which types of companies?

I would certainly recommend Apptio Targetprocess to, I would say, all kinds of companies who are looking for a solution for their agile way of working, implementing this, ensuring active collaboration between business and IT, working on transparency and priorities. I think Apptio Targetprocess is really a good choice because it’s a very flexible tool. Apptio Targetprocess in fact gives you some building blocks and you have the flexibility to build your own agile way of working depending on your own context.

Additional Resources