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A team-first approach in a DevOps transformation

ABN AMRO embarks on a DevOps transformation, pushing aside a technical angle and ushering in a customized team-first approach crafted by Xebia consultants
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Digital Transformation  DevOps | Agile



Operating in a DevOps model allows organizations to decrease their time-to-market as well as their costs to operate the different systems. At the same time, it increases employee engagement. Doing it at scale is unique. With the help of Xebia Consultants, the ABN AMRO DevOps transformation program adapted to the different needs of the departments, while supporting the department management teams at the same time.

Accelerate implementation success within a DevOps transformation
DevOps Consulting & Coaching
Ensure a smooth transition to the new operating model

“Banking for Better, for Generations to come”

To support ABN AMRO's mission, the bank set up a DevOps transformation program, changing the current operating model of separated development and operations departments. The ambition is to break down the wall between the silos and to have cross-functional autonomous teams.

Having cross-functional autonomous teams is a crucial organizational design concern: a team with all required skills to design, build and operate the software will increase the quality and throughput. Specialist teams (and silos) on the other hand create more hand-overs, delaying the flow of business value. Research studies have shown that feature delivery that leaves a team has an increase of about tenfold until it is in production.

Context and Culture require a Customized Approach

ABN AMRO’s DevOps transformation is a full-fledged IT transformation, affecting the current way of working, technical landscape, and culture. Given the size of the organization, there are several subcultures, based on different forces, such as market, type of customer, or technology stack.

Culture defines the context, and context shapes culture. The context can be understood as a business purpose combined with the processes and technology. As an example, the context of the department responsible for reporting to regulators is different from a department developing mobile solutions for retail customers. For a successful transformation, the context of a department and a team is crucial for the transformation; every context is unique, governed by different constraints and levels of complexity, and a blueprint transformation does not work.

Xebia witnessed companies that started with a form of blueprint transformation, applyinga one-size-fits-all approach across the organization, rather than use a set of guiding principles and create solutions that can respect the different contexts and constraints.

“The team-first approach proposed by our transformation coach at Xebia gave great insight to really improve our velocity. They helped us look at and restructure current process automation but also at smart decoupling of applications and the organizational structure of the teams.”
Jan Kees van Bergen IT Engineering lead

When transforming, be gentle

With knowledge and insights, we gained through a series of workshops and interviews about the current status quo, Xebia facilitated the move to the second phase of the DevOps transformation: the sensible transformation approach. The goal is to achieve a balanced state in which cross-functional teams are end-to-end responsible, have stable systems, and the ability to deliver additional value to the product portfolio. At that point, we would talk about DevOps as an operating model.

Since the team started to measure their DevOps metrics, the management team has insights on the status, allowing them to adjust the roadmap. The roadmap is not a blueprint, and as more teams are going on this journey, the strategy needs to be re-evaluated and adjusted.

Becoming better with every feature delivery

The roadmap resulted in a phased transformation approach, where the teams are first-class citizens, and the transformation is not treated as another technology shift. It provided clarity on the teams’ responsibilities, the boundaries, and the teams were able to declare their intentions based on their mission.


ABN AMRO is one of the top 3 banks in The Netherlands. It offers a full range of banking services to individuals, small, medium and large enterprises, and corporates. ABN AMRO operates across the globe with its range of financial services. Currently, the bank has around 19000 employees, with 6500 employees working in IT.

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