AGILITY SUCCEEDS WITH COOPERATION

In April 2015, Samlink’s CEO Pentti Unkuri told the Finnish Tivi magazine that the company will enhance its operations by introducing agile application development methods.

Just eight months later, the magazine was able to report the following: “Samlink carried out a massive reform, the aim was to create a thoroughly agile company.” In the article, Director Sami Suuronen reviewed the steps on this arduous, yet inspiring journey. The joint effort by Samlink employees helped to perform the quantum leap to agility in a short time.

Agility spearheading the change

As explained by Contribyte, the company assisting Samlink in the change process, agility is becoming more and more ubiquitous in software development and other sectors. Samlink chose the SAFe model as the basis of agile everyday business; it helps in developing the company’s operating model and in managing the agile organization. The core objective of SAFe is to produce value to customers by enhancing operations.

In order to bring agile operations as part of everyday work, Samlink had to develop its operations throughout the field. The roles and responsibilities of Samlink’s employees were adapted to support the model and the entire personnel were reorganized. The objective was to enable the smooth operation of competent teams, thus creating an organization that is both flexible and efficient.

The operating model totally rearranged day-to-day operations. The objective is to create value for the customer and improve the efficiency of operations.

The need for transparency and better real-time monitoring of the company’s overall situation, both brought about by agility, resulted in changes in the tools used. The company started using a new ERP system, and new tools were introduced for monitoring application development work.

Creating, learning and developing together

The process of introducing the agile operating model inevitably created new kinds of cooperation. Migration to the new model did not provide Samlink employees with a ready environment. The basis had been laid, but the practices were created through everyday cooperation. The importance of doing things together was also emphasized by the new value “Results together” which was added to the values palette in conjunction with the strategy work carried out in 2015.

This value is most fitting for the new Samlink where development work is heavily team-oriented. The model requires the ability to work in the person’s own team, with other teams and with customers. In the new operating model, the organization of work is also very much based on team cooperation. Future development work has now been planned in three extensive events where there a large number of Samlink employees committed to doing things together. The enthusiasm for the new methods of work and cooperation has been very evident in these events. Even amidst all these changes, people have not run out of energy.

Samlink continues the work for developing the operating model. When agile everyday work is running at Samlink without any problems, added value and visible benefits are also created for customers.

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SAFe, or Scaled Agile Framework, is a model that helps in developing the company’s operating model and in managing the agile organization. SAFe has been developed particularly for product and software development. The model derives a lot from lean thinking, for example, as well as from agile software development. The core objective of SAFe is to produce value to customers at an as short lead time as possible.

At level one, the company’s order book is administered, including the RFQs of customers, ideas and seeds for development. The costs are estimated, work is prioritized and start-up of work is agreed at this level.

At level two, the ordered work is administered and advanced. Interlinked orders are bundled together into a package termed a supply train. All work in the same train is planned, implemented and tested together. The objective is the efficient management or packages producing added value to customers instead of managing individual orders.

Level three is a team level where teams implement the ordered work. The teams carry out software development work in compliance with the principles of agile development.