Market Analysis

Agile transformation: a driver of Orange France’s digital transformation

Mon 30 May 2022

Agile transformation has cut project development time in half and to deliver more value to achieve customer satisfaction.

Committed to the digital transformation of Orange France’s customer relation since 2015, the consumer digital department has been a breeding ground for experimenting with agile transformation for the Group. For the past 3 years, 100% of the digital teams have been embedded in coordinated agile trains or unitary agile teams. And here are the benefits.

Orange France's Consumer Digital Department is responsible for the digital and omnichannel transformation of all customer relations for the Orange and Sosh brands across all channels: Purchasing, offer management, assistance, and on all screens: PC, mobile web, TV, apps.

This digitalization is driven by two challenges:

  • Responding to customer expectations, amplified by the health crisis, finding an answer to their question digitally, an aspiration for more autonomy online; an omnichannel experience.
  • Contribute to Orange's strategic challenges: deploy 100% digital paths and increase the proportion of digital in daily customer relations in order to improve the customer experience, but also to optimize costs (reduce the number of telephone calls, refocus store contacts on business development).

A Transformation Driven by Ambitious Objectives

The digital transformation serves three ambitious objectives at the heart of Orange France's strategy:

  • Contribute to customer satisfaction: increase the NPS (Net Promoter Score) of digital channels from 15 in 2021 to 40 in 2025.
  • Continue to increase the proportion of sales actions carried out 100% digitally: increase it to 45% in 2025, bearing in mind that it has already risen from 15% to 25% between 2017 and 2019 and then to 35% in 2021, which represents the best performance in the world for an incumbent operator.
  • Contribute to cost savings in customer relations: increase the proportion of customer relations interactions carried out digitally from 42% at the end of 2021 to 52% in 2025.

Digital teams : pioneers of agile transformation

It was within the Digital department that the first teams began working in agile mode in 2016. By 2017, all Digital employees, trained in the SAFe method, were working in unitary agile teams. The first agile trains were launched in 2018. The performance achieved in 2019, led Orange to extend the agile transformation to the entire scope of the Consumer Division. The latter is currently leading 200 multidisciplinary teams embedded in 25 trains, representing 2,000 employees.

Saving Time and Value to Achieve Customer Satisfaction

Agile transformation has rapidly demonstrated that it is a lever for accelerating digital transformation:

  • It has cut project development time in half. The lead time, a KPI used to measure the time between a pitch and the first delivery of the solution to the customer, has gone from 10 months in 2018 to 4.5 months in 2020.
  • It delivers more value: solutions get into customers' hands faster with a continuously improved MVP (Minimum Viable Product); they require less CAPEX spending being developed with little upfront investment and many increments. Testing, which puts the customer at the heart of the work, makes it possible to validate the gains or to stop the project before investing too much, if it does not meet the need. Furthermore, the teams are focused on an agility principle: delivering value. From the "what" (a value objective to be generated), and the "how much" (budget), they have room to work on the how and to achieve it. The measurement of the gains/CAPEX ratio thus shows a significant optimization of the resources devoted to development within agile teams.

A Highly Structuring Collective for Teams and Managers

Based on collective intelligence, agility creates support, motivation, pride, and loyalty within multidisciplinary teams. It offers — within a framework — a real autonomy of decision and initiative on how to propose projects to deliver ambitions. This risk-taking creates value, as does the objectification of decisions through testing, which limits conflicts on the "how." The continuous learning process and listening to the end customer is enriching and rewarding for employees.

Managers in charge of trains also appreciate the virtues of agility: they manage cross-functional, multi-disciplinary teams, with the latitude to adjust the teams and motivate them to achieve value. They manage projects and continuous improvement at the same time, and they appreciate the fact that their teams are focused on the same subject with a real capacity to work over time.

In addition, agility has enabled business and IT teams to better understand and share their respective challenges. The integration of design in all projects, from the ideation phase to the implementation, is extremely positive. It has even led to the creation of a shared design system.

Obstacles to Overcome

The main difficulty of agility lies in scaling up:

  • It is a real transformation that changes roles. Getting all the teams on board requires a significant and long investment in training and support by managers to give meaning. Creating communities by role — for Product Managers, Product Owners, and Release Train Engineers — allows employees to share their difficulties and to pool their best practices in frequent feedback.
  • Switching from unitary agile teams to coordinated teams within trains raises a lot of issues on the Scrum part of Scrums: in the presence of common development chains, it is necessary to coordinate well the Program Increment Plannings taking into account the priorities of each chain and their interdependencies.
  • Another point of vigilance: it is not because we develop smaller projects faster by cutting them up more than we should make disposable projects. It is important to keep an eye on the target to be reached by working with architects on robust and sustainable solutions.

Levers for Success

To establish a favorable framework for team work and collaboration, it is important to:

Choose the right team with the right skills, the right Product Manager and the right Train Leader.

  • Be very clear about the value we are asking the teams to seek, the stakes, the mandates we are giving them, and the conditions to respect (technical conditions, prohibitions, obligatory points of passage) in order to align the team.
  • Be sure to express the objective in terms of value and not in terms of features to be improved. This is a prerequisite for giving the team the opportunity to open up the whole field of possible solutions and to innovate.
  • Implement the principles of agility: a hyper focus on the customer. The latitude to make mistakes, because to make a mistake is to learn, to eliminate assumptions, and to make objective arbitrations based on concrete measurements.

Finally, it is essential that top management transforms itself at the same time as the teams and learns to adapt its managerial practices to this new agile mindset.

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Anne-Laure Commault

Consumers Digital Department Director, Orange France