Digital Transformation, Agile Transformations
Rabobank is a global financial services leader providing wholesale and retail banking, leasing, and real estate services. It is the second-largest financial institution in the Netherlands and has group operations in 38 countries around the world and with over $765 billion in assets. As a cooperative bank, its roots in agriculture, food, and agribusiness remain its primary area of focus. Since 2015, the bank has embarked on a transformation program that has seen it intensify investments in innovation and digitalization to benefit its customers and realize several UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Building a Future-Focused Operation
Low barriers to entry have increased competition from non-traditional financial technology firms and like-companies in other sectors. For this reason, legacy banks face the pressing need to adapt to new ways of business if they want to build future-focused operations. The rise of automation and the consequent increase in data will drive innovation and unlock value for organizations. Secondly, with remote working here to stay, organizations need to be able to cater to this hybrid workforce. “The future lies in being a digital-first company,” said Alexander Zwart, head of digital transformation & tribe lead, at Rabobank. “Besides the immediate payoffs, we believe a digital transformation strategy will pay off significantly in the years to come,” he further explained.
From DevOps to Agile for Global Transformation
Rabobank prioritized digitalization and innovation as part of its mission to build a better world by helping customers achieve good financial health and growth and make a significant contribution to solving the global food problem. After several years with DevOps practices, Rabobank transitioned to Agile in 2018 with a program called Simplify@Scale. Within three years, the bank had taken the program globally, and more than 5,500 colleagues worldwide were working in aligned autonomous teams increasing transparency, improving control, and enhancing value for clients.
Implementing Agile: Meticulous & Disciplined Approach
Under Xebia’s guidance, the bank set up its Agile transformation meticulously: with a clear product development portfolio, an appropriate organizational structure, 9-11 squads per area, and 5-7 areas per tribe. Agile coaches were available to support each tribe and facilitate collaboration. Critical to success was determining the impact of an Agile transformation on people, processes, and technology. Tight regulation and discipline were essential through the transformation, and the bank enacted a policy of zero-tolerance for deviation. Throughout the transformation, trust and perseverance encouraged and supported the process. Finally, Rabobank chose to create a permanent internal consulting function that continuously challenges the bank's way of working at all levels, from frontline staff to its Board of Directors.