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Agile – more than just a buzzword

Being agile in IBSS Bratislava means helping our colleagues feel more empowered.

The first sentence of the Agile Manifesto states: “We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.” Is there a difference between Agile for IT and other types of organisations? Let’s have a look at how ING Business Shared Services (IBSS for short) Bratislava took on this challenge and transformed itself.

While the agile method of development originated in the IT environment, the journey towards an Agile organisation is in essence all about culture and a change of mindset. This cannot be done in a week or a month. But we took on the challenge of changing our usual way of working and sharing our daily plans, priorities and ideas.

But how did we actually do this and how does it work? In 2015, ING Bank began transforming from a traditional financial institution into a “tech company with a banking license”. We at IBSS Bratislava have joined this effort as well and adopted the Agile Manifesto by replacing software development with servicing customers. To achieve this unified approach, we follow a set of fundamental principles: our One Agile Way of Working. We were inspired by Agile principles, those from other organisations (e.g. Zappos, Spotify, Google) and our own experience within ING. These principles will tell you more about how we successfully made the change and who we are as an organisation:

We work in high performing teams

Although working in services requires endurance, each team works in sprints – 2 week-long periods that focus on small digestible pieces rather than large, daunting tasks. This ensures improvements are made faster and more efficiently. On a local level, the agile approach enables our employees to become more proactive rather than reactive. They can take ownership of their work and have end-to-end responsibility. The employees are now in the driver’s seat.

We empower teams

Being agile in IBSS Bratislava means helping our colleagues feel more empowered. “Just the other day, I attended a team meeting where they reviewed the last 3 weeks and focused on what worked and what could have been done differently. There was no team leader present at that meeting. This team was making decisions autonomously to improve their work,” says Veronika Grófová, our agile coach. It's a level of maturity that we are spreading throughout the company. This results in the development of self-steering teams, where people are willing to take it on and make it happen.

We care about talent and craftsmanship

It is talented and well-trained people that truly make the difference. Our ambition is to have every position filled with capable and motivated people.

We continuously learn from customers and make improvements

In today’s environment of market disruptors, customer expectations are getting higher and higher. Being an Agile organisation, we never stop learning from our customers and improving ourselves.

We set priorities with the big picture in mind

Our work is our focus. We prioritise effectively with global priorities in mind. Thanks to continuous feedback from our customers, we are able to deliver value while simultaneously gaining new knowledge.

We are consistent in our organisational design and method of working

ING is working hard to implement the agile way of working across the board. We have the ambition to use the same frameworks, tools and ‘language’. This naturally leads to higher efficiency and less waste. Because we speak the same language, our employees and customers are happy.

Simplicity is our focus

Transparent, simple and clear. We are aiming to have less obstacles and handovers and give space to individuals and teams. That’s why we have small self-organizing teams empowered to handle service requests with as few handovers and dependencies as possible

We reuse instead of reinvent

“Don’t reinvent the wheel.” Simple as that. Our knowledge and tools are integrated in eco-systems that contribute to improving global solutions, instead of building our own.

We can already see the first benefits across the organisation, as teams exchange feedback and their own experiences between departments to further improve themselves and correct their course along the way. By doing this, we spread our positive practices throughout the organization and ensure our goals are met. Every time that happens, there is an opportunity to celebrate our successes.

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