The benefits of agility lie in: efficiency, empowerment and team building
To successfully merge all of its telecom activities into a single entity, improve the customer experience and its internal processes, the historical operator in French Polynesia experimented with the SCRUM agile method with around 20 employees. With the first improvements measured, it is expanding the approach.
What was ONATi's context before its agile transformation process?
As part of its strategic plan, the OPT group had decided to regroup within ONATi all of its telecom activities dispersed in two branches. This merger also concerned processes and teams. The objective was to improve the customer experience by streamlining the customer journey. It was also to bring cohesion to the processes and tools that differed from one team to another, and to promote better working together.
What was the trigger for the July 2021 launch of an agile method to drive the transformation?
We had started to work with Sofrecom on the customer journey improvement approach. The first reflections had allowed us to structure the customer approach as well as the work to be launched. We had identified the pain points, the improvement points and the customer satisfaction points. But when we launched the first improvement actions on the customer journey, we realized that we were lacking efficiency in terms of execution. We needed an efficient method to carry out and put into action our transformation work. Sofrecom then proposed the agile method. Three consultants trained and accompanied us in its implementation.
How did you get your teams involved in agility on the ground?
Agility is, first and foremost, a state of mind that must be well understood and integrated: working together, collaboration between different entities, step by step progress, and continuous adjustment. A phase of sensitization to this state of mind allowed us to put things into perspective.
Then we implemented the Scrum agile method by bringing on board about twenty employees. We defined and formalized three improvement user stories:
- Internet technical support, which was the first reason for calls to the customer service department.
- Mobile assistance.
- Internet fibre installation.
We set up three agile teams of 4 or 5 employees, each with a Scrum Master and a Product Owner. We set them in motion with the Sprint and the various agile ceremonies: the stand-up meetings, which were held by videoconference due to the health crisis and the dispersion of employees on different sites, the weekly reviews, and what we called "Manao days." At the end of each two- or three-week sprint, the agile teams presented their work to the entire company. These agility pioneers were proud to talk about their business, their achievements, and the improvements they had seen in the business. These times of communication, sharing and exchange, carried out both face-to-face and remotely, played an important role. They motivated other employees to commit to sprints and helped to get the company on board with our continuous improvement approach.
What other benefits did you observe after these first three agile experiments?
First, we were able to measure the effectiveness of agility. An example: before the internet technical support sprint, 60% of customer calls were resolved at level 2. Today, only 15% of calls reach level 2, with 85% of calls being resolved on the first customer call. Through agile work, the team was able to propose and test different solution options and build these solutions step by step, which they really appreciated. If an option did not work, it was abandoned. If it did work, the team adjusted it step-by-step. The sprint provided new, easy-to-use, rapid problem-solving tools for internet support.
Secondly, the agile method has favored the assumption of autonomy in the various departments. The employees, knowing that we were in an improvement process, were in a posture of expectation towards the company or the hierarchy. They wondered if a project team was going to be formed or if their manager was planning to start something. Thanks to the agile method, they now have a kit which allows them to adjust processes themselves in a quick and easy way.
Agility also brought cohesion to the merging of teams. It brought together employees who were working on one end of the customer journey but did not interact directly with each other in the improvement thinking process. The Scrum method allowed them to get to know each other, to work together, and to improve their respective performances on the daily activity. This is a benefit that is highly appreciated by the teams.
Finally, Sofrecom's support-training in the implementation of agility has allowed ONATi's employees to increase their skills and to lead a Sprint. Some of them revealed themselves in the role of Scrum Master that they were not used to take on in their daily life. The experience was very engaging and motivating for them.
How do you raise the level of agility’s deployment?
In February 2022, we held a seminar with 70 collaborators on the prioritization of user stories to be completed in the coming months. This allowed us to plan the next Sprints. From mid-March, 5 or 6 new agile teams will launch new Sprints with two important priorities:
- Set up KPIs in order to properly evaluate the improvements made at the customer level and at the internal level, because we lack indicators on some paths.
- Continue to mobilize other people on agility in order to engage more and more employees in continuous improvement.
From my point of view, a third step, beneficial for the whole company, could be to use agility on large internal company projects such as IS improvement and organization optimization.
In your opinion, what are the biases to avoid and the key success factors in an agile transformation process?
What is a little complicated in a human-sized structure like ours, compared to what is usually practiced in large companies, is that the employees mobilized in agile teams keep their daily activity in parallel, which can pose a problem of availability. At the same time, as they are directly involved in the user story they are working on, they see the effectiveness of the method. They remain motivated because they improve their processes and optimize their daily lives.
As for the success factors, I think that the integration of the values and principles of agility is key. Communicating what the agile teams have produced allows this state of mind to spread gradually.