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Customer Story

Dutch Railway Operator Strives for More with DevOps Way of Working

DSO creates continuous value with team coaching, embracing DevOps culture and practices; feature delivery sped up to every two weeks

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Have you ever watched a child play with a model railway set and wondered how it all works in the real world? Who makes sure the trains are on the right track and that the conductors are headed in the right direction?
In the Netherlands, the service organization that manages all train traffic, the Dutch train schedule, its personnel, and planning for more than 30 transport providers is DSO. The system, known as “Donna,” is a joint initiative of the Dutch Railways (NS) and ProRail. It’s developed and maintained by more than 80 developers across eleven teams.
Deliver features faster, more often and with a higher predictability
DevOps coaching and consulting 
Shift towards a DevOps way of working with end-to-end responsible teams

A Flywheel of Continuous Improvement

NS and ProRail aimed to add a lot more adapted functionality to the Donna-system while enhancing the level of predictability of the development teams at the same time.

Xebia started by coaching one team, making work predictable and visible, and scaling up in a later phase of the project.

With every iteration, the team gained more awareness of the effort required to realize improvements and began incorporating these into the sprint planning activities. Their refined sprint planning not only reduced the amount of re-work but also created trust within the team and towards management. The structure allowed more room for improvements and a shared understanding of the effort required. The team embraced continuous improvement, step by step.

“Coaching management towards a new way of leading was very valuable. We gained not only more understanding of the new way of working, but we also were pro-actively improving ourselves and our leadership style in a continuous way, getting more comfortable and more mature.”
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Sander Berg Manager Donna Service Organisatie

The Road to End-to-End Responsibility

Installing a self-service platform, focusing on one development team at first, knowing the fast and tangible results we achieved would serve as a guideline for the following teams. It took all hands on board to guide this first team to full responsibility, from feature idea to production. People from different parts of the organization—testers, architects, system administration, and management— helped make it happen, step by step.

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