Case Study: Large-Scale Scrum at BASE Company

Base Company was the third Mobile Operator in Belgium and stayed within the top 3 market leaders, even today now the organisation has gone through a new change. Their IT was part of the technology department that was also responsible for the mobile network, from design to operations. Within the IT organization were a couple of hundred people, a mix of people on the payroll together with externals from several (strategic) partners. Their main integration partner was an Indian company, covered by a managed service contract, working in a strong phase-gate scenario. Fixed price contracts with heavy penalties for their Indian partner.

As you can imagine, blame and CYA (Cover Your Ass) were the main visible drivers for work. Less visible was the accumulated technical debt that triggered their New Generation and Green Field initiatives.

At that moment in time, Base Company was 100% owned by KPN Netherlands and put on the market for sale!

Even though the odds were against a huge change, the new CTO (Suzanne Kelder) took the lead in changing her Technology Department. Motivating and instructing her direct reports to do things differently.

At that time, her IT Director (Luc Schillebeeckx) explored the option to adopt an Agile way of working. Due to lack of knowledge, he wanted to limit the risks and together with Co-Learning (Jurgen De Smet) he designed 2 different experiments with limited risk.

1) Agile Project Approach with high visibility and urgency.

2) Agile Area/Domain Approach with the least hard dependencies to other domains.

The start of a journey with lots of learning to share.

  • Project oriented organization or product oriented organization?
  • Disruptive or evolutionary change?
  • Keep PMO or not? How many PO’s?
  • Engineering practices and C.I.? Devops?
  • What about our offshoring partner(s)?

Many choices, many experiments.

During the process of the Agile Adoption, Telenet (Liberty Global) showed interest in buying Base Company! But for this to happen the EU government had to approve the acquisition to guarantee that there wouldn’t be an unfair competition. A tough period with lots of unknowns. Eventually the EU approved the sale of the company (after a second round) and Base Company became part of Telenet (Liberty Global). The adoption didn’t stand still. For which  we owe our respect to the CTO, Suzanne Kelder, her crew and all people in BASE Company. Congratz!

Please enjoy the presentation of their journey from the start at the end of 2014 until where they are at the end of 2016 by its former IT Director, Luc Schillebeeckx.

 

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