Nina Söderberg started working with us at Olingo in January 2017. With her in the luggage, Nina has many years of experience in leadership as office manager for bank branches. In addition, she has worked as a system owner both on the business side and the IT side. In March, Nina began a mission at Santander Consumer Bank. In this interview you can read Nina's story about the mission and what it's like to work as a consultant for Olingo.
Hi Nina! Could you describe your current project at Santander?
At Santander Consumer Bank, there is a big focus on customers. Santander is currently conducting a transformation journey that will land in faster adaptation to customer needs. This means moving from traditional development methods to embracing a more agile approach using frameworks such as Scrum, SAFe and DevOps. Now it is much faster to get new and improved functionality to customers.
I got into a line role as System Manager but since they needed help in the transformation work I had the opportunity to become part of that journey. The challenge I am working on is how traditional ITIL roles and working methods can be integrated with an agile approach. As a bank, there is a requirement that there is a clear governance of how changes are implemented and production is set and here it was not entirely frictionless when ITIL and Agile would work together. It's not unique in any way. According to the company's process descriptions, a number of approvals and decision points must be passed. Translating those activities into how the agile teams worked was not simply. The work was also not facilitated by the fact that in some cases there were dependencies between different agile teams, but also the dependencies to organisations in other countries.
What's the biggest challenge?
Anchorage! The change affects both the business side and IT. Everyone needs to adapt their way of working and it is not always the positive for the individual employee. For the agile teams, there will be a little more documentation and inertia in decisions than they originally thought, while the ITIL roles change and deploy can feel that they no longer have full control over all the steps. Trust is needed here. There is to a large extent but can be strengthened even more.
What other challenges have you encountered and how have they been resolved?
Many changes are influenced by the other three Nordic organisations, which do not work agile to the same extent as in Sweden. At the same time, it is difficult to understand the need for information and foresight. That challenge was already made clearer when you started working with sprints and sprint planning.
Another major challenge has been system support. ITIL processes such as incident, problems and change use a case management system, while the agile teams use another. In the short term, there will continue to be two different systems, something we have had to adapt to. The difficulty therefore becomes the requirement for traceability. It should be possible to follow all the changes all the way. But we think we have managed to find a process that is not too time consuming.
How far have you come so far?
It was important for us to get instructions out before the holidays began at the end of June. Everyone involved really wanted us to have a common view of how change and deploy should work in August. Great commitment from everyone! Both those who participated from agile teams and those with roles such as change, release and deploy managers were very committed to finding a working way. There were many occasions when we stood at the whiteboard and drew. Now we have a first version that we try and will evaluate. After that, we expect small adjustments to make it flow on better. Just like it should be when you work agile.
The package includes checklists on what needs to be in place and made throughout the change and deploy processes. That means everything from what needs to be clear before the change can be planned (Definition of Ready) until it is ready for production (Definition of Done). For the deployment process, it is about what is part of the Definition of Done until a Post Implementation Review is completed.
What will be the focus on this fall?
It is fast paced and the desire to improve processes remains great. We will continue to develop what we started this spring, but we will also adapt the processes to the next steps that are automated production sizing. I am impressed to see how fast it is possible to get news out in production and with automated production izations it will go even faster. However, it is important not to lose the controls that need to be in place and ensure that documentation that is necessary does not disappear. We're going to focus on that now. And we're going to make it as easy as possible.
What's the funniest thing about this mission?
Santander is an exciting company that really makes sure to be at the forefront. The positive attitude to testing new methods and with it also a permissive attitude to the fact that sometimes it does not get perfect, makes me dare to take out the turns more than I usually do. Really fun to try again. I have personally developed a lot while feeling that I can contribute with the knowledge I have gained from previous experiences. From my consulting colleagues, I have also received a lot of help with thoughts and ideas on how obstacles can be solved. Those ideas have both developed me and contributed to a better delivery to Santander.
What's the best thing about being a consultant?
The best thing is clearly to be helpful. Most IT departments grapple with much the same kind of challenges but with their own "twist". What I do think a lot of people aren't thinking about is that it's not just the hired consultant's experience and skills that they get to take part in but the whole of Olingo's overall skills. We consultants are good at sharing experiences with each other and when we get stuck we help each other. Together we have experience from an incredible number of different companies and businesses. That's a big reason Why I chose to be a consultant at Olingo.
Then you have to like to meet new people and be interested in learning new. Because no matter where you end up, it is new corporate culture to adapt to and new people that you should collaborate with. And, of course, like change.