Northern Europe’s Largest Financial Group Increases Efficiency with SAFe

With branches in 19 countries, and over 11 million customers, the European banking giant, Nordea, set a goal to deliver a new digital banking experience for its retail customers.

They determined that the best way to meet their goal was to adopt an agile development approach, and so in 2014 Nordea teamed up with Scaled Agile Gold Partner, Ivar Jacobson (IJI), and were introduced to SAFe.

IJI kick-started Nordea’s SAFe introduction with a two-day session with management and stakeholders to establish a common
way of operating. They simulated how an agile-at-scale approach would work in Nordea’s environment, provided workshop style training for the staff involved, and one-on-one training for the Release Train Engineers (RTEs).

They combined two existing delivery streams to form their Agile Release Train; a total of 80 people formed five development teams, one system team, and various cross-functional roles to represent architecture and user experience. By January, 2015 Nordea had made it through two 10-week Program Increments (PIs) and planning sessions. In both sessions, all members participated in visioning and planning; as a group, they identified inter-dependencies and were able to establish both Team PI objectives and Program PI objectives.

“The PI sessions with IJI have given us a heartbeat. Everyone now understands the cycle and how to work which makes it much easier. We know what to do and when to do it. Because of this, our efficiency has increased.”

“To see a waterfall Program Manager embrace SAFe after only two days of participating in a PI planning session is remarkable. He is now one of our biggest ambassadors of promoting SAFe within Nordea.”

Nordea’s fully-committed dive into SAFe produced immediate benefits, including:

  • Increased efficiency with team members aligned and working together
  • Greater creativity as teams are empowered to make decisions
  • Management aligned and supportive of Agile teams

The teams continue to evolve and improve their delivery system with each PI, and it has inspired other parts of Nordea to scale agile with SAFe.

Of course there is more to learn from their experience, so make sure to download the attached study for the rest of the story.

Many thanks to the folks at Ivar Jacobson for providing the guidance, coaching and training that enabled Nordea to accelerate agile adoption with SAFe, and for sharing the story of their success.