P-VAL supports its customers in their performance challenges. We do this on themes that are at the heart of their strategy: simplicity, agility, cooperation, empowerment, innovation… these are the demands that we need to address with them. To do this, we co-construct their Better World, the one that responds to their strategy, with the aim of validating that this new World responds to a requirement for Common, Sustainable, Fair and High-Performance.
Creating an “Agile” World is a recurring request today: this word takes on different meanings depending on the context and the people involved. We have formalised an archetypal World to feed our customers: the World of Spotify. Here we share a very interesting insight into Orange France’s ambitious implementation, with Odile de Gabrielli from Orange France.
Hello Odile, you were Director of Programmes at Orange France. As part of this role, you led a major transformation process to move from a traditional project world, with a V-cycle and clear separation between IT and Business, to an Agile world. What motivated this transformation?
Development projects at Orange France represent several hundred million euros of CAPEX per year. We identified three areas for progress:
Deliver faster. Our projects lasted an average of 24 months. That’s too long in an environment as fast-moving as ours, where we have to react quickly to dynamic competition.
Reduce development costs. Time is always a resource-consuming factor, but above all we had identified that we were sometimes developing features that were not used enough.
Putting the customer at the heart of our projects. Orange’s history, market share, cost structure and positioning mean that we have to offer a premium service, which means that customer satisfaction is at the top of the market.
That’s why we’ve decided to launch a vast agile transformation project involving IT and the business, as a way of making progress in line with the challenges we face.
Agile transformations are all the rage, but they sometimes struggle to demonstrate their impact. How did you manage this transformation, and what were your objectives?
We set ourselves ambitious objectives in terms of challenges and gains. To give you a few examples, we have set ourselves the target of increasing the proportion of agile projects from 5% to 85% in 4 years. We want to cut our development costs by 18%, and create 15% more incremental value from our projects.
We consulted a lot of other companies to get inspiration from their best practices and avoid a few rookie mistakes. Thanks to them. But we took a different approach from the outset, because we didn’t start with the IT Department launching into agile, as is often the case, at the risk of remaining within the IT Department. From the outset, we designed a joint agile programme for the Business Units and the IT Department, with co-sponsoring from the Business Unit and the IT Department.
We put in place very strong support for the teams, set up premises adapted to agile working, and launched a vast training programme.
What unexpected difficulties did you encounter?
We embarked fully on our new Agile World, but it was soon perceived as being at odds with the existing way of working. This was particularly difficult for the people, especially the managers, who were at the frontiers of the system because they were torn between new ways of working and old ways of working that were still in place.
We therefore had to adapt governance by strengthening cross-functional committees to ensure coherence and fluidity between the silos of an organisation that we had not transformed. Not changing the organisation was a decision we took from the outset, as this would have led to a complex and slow transformation – in short, not an agile one.
We also supported the teams with an ambitious training plan that involved more than 5,000 people to explain the new roles and reposition volunteer managers for the new pivotal role of LPM “Lean Portfolio Manager”, our “Product Owner” in agile language.
What is the most important lesson you would like to pass on?
I’d have two.
The first is to treat the subject as a cultural change, a change of World in the sense of P-VAL, and not a technical or organisational project. What really needs to change are our ways of thinking and acting. We therefore need to invest quickly and massively in this area from the outset, before the wrong decisions are taken.
The second is to always prioritise actions in terms of the value created for both parties: the customer and Orange. This is not easy to estimate or to value in euros. But it’s essential to ensure that power struggles and bureaucracy don’t get in the way of the change that’s underway.
Thank you Odile! I’m sure we’ll have the opportunity to share this experience with our customers, who are embarking on the creation of Agile Worlds to which all their stakeholders will want to belong!