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Backshoring – one-off or a commencing trend?

Dutch companies have sourced their business services activities to nearshore locations for decades. The main reasons to locate these business services in, for example, Eastern Europe, are because of the availability of qualified personnel, a better cultural fit compared to offshore locations (e.g. Asia) and labor arbitrage. However, due to the changing macro-economic environment, the question arises whether this type of sourcing will change in the years to come. To produce an outlook for the European market, we have conducted extended research into the European market to predict the main macro-economic variables on the sourcing decision. The consultation will indicate whether the main sourcing hubs are still a good option for BPO/outsourcing solutions or whether the Western European companies will consider ‘backshoring’ their activities to their home countries.


Companies are constantly striving to improve their core competences and reduce costs by finding the optimal sourcing strategy. Although in the past only ‘non-core’ activities (those activities that are not involved in the value proposition of the business) were bundled together for outsourcing, these days businesses and scholars have also shed light on the possibilities of sourcing ‘core’ activities (those activities related to a company’s strategy) ([Mohi13]). Hence, sourcing strategies have been defined for these bundled activities: domestic in-house, domestic outsource (third party in same country), captive offshore (different location of same company) and offshore outsource (third party abroad) ([Tall11]). For the last of these, locations in different continents or neighboring countries (nearshore location) can be considered to optimize the value-creating factors ([Merk14]) and add value by either specializing or innovating ([CBI15]).

However, the global business landscape has changed over the last two decades. Some politicians and research organizations are convinced that the unfavorable macro-economic environment abroad and new technological advantages drive companies to backshore processes, improving the company’s global competitiveness ([Foer16]). Especially manufacturing, IT and services companies in industrialized countries are reconsidering their sourcing strategy and looking further than mainly labor costs and arbitrage ([Merk14]).

Most of the existing literature about this type of sourcing only examines the motivations for manufacturing companies. Manufacturing companies have chosen to relocate their activities back to their HQ (backshoring) ([Frat14]). It is found that moving back the processes in-house leads to ‘renewed job creation’ ([ILO13]), higher domestic demand for goods (e.g. machinery) and a decline in gas costs ([Geor14], [Merk14]).

A new development in this strategic process is the emerging role of global business services. Although it has been found that these companies often have globally dispersed activities allowing them to gain access to ‘local resources, knowledge and capabilities’, and thus become innovative and remain competitive ([Bagl10]), currently only around 20 percent of the backshoring activities concern IT and business services ([Merk14]). However, the existing literature neglects the drivers for Global Business Services companies to relocate their activities back to their headquarters. Currently, there is a gap in research for this sector. Therefore, our article will investigate the reasons and the impact of backshoring.

We are inspired by current macro-economic developments (e.g. Brexit, Ukraine war and the right-wing political preferences), which may imply a favorable environment to backshore business service processes from nearshore locations back to the home country. As such, the scope for this paper is solely focused on how European trends can influence the decision process for Dutch companies to reconsider their business services souring strategy. A macro-economic analysis will be conducted using the ‘PEST’ model of [Thom07]. This analysis is used to point out the different macro-economic factors (political, economic, social, technology) which influence particular choices about the sourcing strategy of the business services functions. The scope for this research is based on the ‘most-known’ outsourcing hubs in Europe, with a sufficient presence of SSCs and service providers. These hubs are: Eastern European countries, Southern Europe and Western Europe (see Figure 1).


Figure 1. Overview of sourcing hubs. [Click on the image for a larger image]

The degree of political movements

As described in the previous section, several groundbreaking events have impacted the integration of Europe (e.g. Brexit and the Ukraine war). However, these are not one-off events, but are part of the change in the political stability in Europe during the last few years. Whereas the continent is known for integration and collaboration within a strong community as the EU, several events have taken place which do not favor this integration. In Eastern Europe, Poland is trying to be suspended temporarily from European decision making and it is uncertain how Brexit will affect Western Europe politics. Another trend is that parliaments are shifting to right-oriented parties. This can imply self-sufficiency within these countries as the perspective and preference of these right-oriented parties are far more conservative. However, the political stability for the countries is still perceived to be high and at this point does not create major triggers to ‘re-source’ their (global) business services activities.

Central and Eastern Europe

As Eastern Europe is one of the most favorable locations to ‘nearshore’ business services for Dutch companies, we start with an analysis of this part of Europe. Recent elections show a more conservative/right-wing/populism trend compared to elections held before 2015. Countries such as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland are being dominated by (ultra)nationalist parties. These parties are often led by former businessmen, who only recently entered into the political arena. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the political stability and governmental effectiveness of these ‘nearshore’ countries are perceived to be ‘stable’ to ‘moderately stable’. The only country facing some political instability is Poland. The country’s power has been centralized under the control of the president. The president has the right to veto legislation or send it for review to the Constitutional Tribunal. This mechanism is in contradiction to the principles of a democracy, and it has been pointed out that this has the highest attention of the European Commission. The EU has initiated a vote for each EU Member State, based on article 7 of the EU treaty, to temporarily suspend Poland from European decision making. Romania and Slovakia have a more left-center parliament. Elections were held in 2016. The EIU describes a stable political environment for both countries, however the effectiveness of the Romanian government is perceived as the least favorable of all countries analyzed.

Southern Europe

Well-known Southern European ‘nearshore’ hubs are Portugal and Spain. Although both countries have had a stable political environment during recent years, there has been a major event within Spain which made the environment less stable than before. Historically, Spain is known for having several movements in the country that fight for the independence of specific regions. In recent years, these political movements have been toned down within the public arena. One example is the ETA that has officially stated that it will disarm their party and only continue to promote their message through dialogue. Furthermore, the region of Catalonia recently initiated a referendum to decide on their regions independence from Spain. The central Spanish government forbid the referendum and intervened in Catalonia. The referendum was therefore held illegally (from the perspective of Spain). President Mr. Raju has suspended all independent power of the region and centralized it in Madrid.

Western Europe

In June 2016, the British people voted for ‘Brexit’. In Western Europe, only Ireland is recognized as a ‘nearshore’ hub. The authors did not choose to elaborate extensively on Brexit itself. However, since Ireland is a direct neighbor of Great Britain, it will affect the politics of this country. In December 2017, Prime Minister May and President Juncker entered into a provisional agreement which indicated no ‘hard border’ between the Republic of Ireland and Northern-Ireland, which seems to be favorable for the Republic of Ireland. However, a formal agreement between the EU and Great Britain about Brexit has to be negotiated more extensively and this may affect the stability within this part of Europe. The (left-wing) Irish political system is known as stable and shows good governmental effectiveness.

Economic factors affecting business

Companies are constantly exposed to contingent disturbances (also called ‘environmental uncertainty’), such as volatility and unpredictability ([Mili87]). Consequently, they outweigh the benefits of locating the outsourced activities in nearshore locations. This is primarily driven by the unfavorable changes in the economic environment in low-cost countries (classical ‘offshore’ locations, such as Thailand or China) in the last years due to, among others, appreciation of the currency and increased costs of labor, production and natural resources ([Ellr13]). This change made nearshore (European) locations more attractive, such as Eastern Europe. Although the availability of (relatively low-skilled) labor and wages are less favorable in Eastern Europe compared to (South-East or Western) Asia, the cultural, educational, geographical and language proximity is better aligned to advanced European countries ([Amar16], [UN17]). On top of this, many countries belong to the European Union, and thus guarantee extent degree of regulatory certainty, employee mobility (access to language skills) and the ease of a unified currency ([Amar16]).

In order to compare the three main outsourcing hubs in Europe, we created Table 1. The economic environment is determined by cost attractiveness (employment costs of business services, office rents per m², corporate tax rates), inflation rates (inflation last year and CPI last year), and risks (country and business environment).


Table 1. Overview of economic indicators per outsourcing hub and countries. [Click on the image for a larger image]

In short, the table shows that Eastern Europe is very attractive due to its relatively low costs for employment, corporate taxes and offices compared to the major outsourcing countries in the South and West of Europe. Thereby, the inflation differences among the three regions is negligible, and varies per country. The economy in Eastern and Central Europe is characterized by its strong GDP growth (approx. 5% annually), driven by the domestic and export demand. This strong performance is also linked to the loose fiscal policies, tight labor market and high number of investments ([Bouz17]). The business outsourcing market is gradually improving as this region continues to develop.

Central and Eastern Europe

Although Bulgaria is the most cost attractive compared to the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia, the risks of doing business in Bulgaria are higher compared to all other countries. Nevertheless, Bulgaria is seen as a developing destination in Europe for outsourcing activities, but has currently the lowest penetration rate compared to other locations in Europe. In contrast, the popularity for the strongest economy in this region, Poland, has risen significantly and is ranked as the largest outsourcing location in Europe (and number 9 in the world) due to its stable economy ([Amar16]). Currently, over 400 BPO Suppliers are located in Poland, mainly spread across the cities Krakow and Warsaw ([Amar16]). Both cities are leading and highly mature for business services in Europe due to their talent pools and multilingual work forces. Warsaw, which specializes in Finance, Accounting and Customer services, is becoming the biggest competitor of Budapest (Hungary) in this field. Romania is ranked second in Europe and thus beats the Czech Republic despite the high-skilled labor force in the Czech Republic, mainly because of Romania’s expansionary fiscal policy, high cost attractiveness, high consumer spending and a significant labor force in business services ([Bouz17]).

Southern Europe

South European countries show relatively less economical risk (country and business risk) compared to Eastern Europe. Despite the EU/IMF bailout of € 78 million in 2011, Portugal is now one of the fastest growing economies in Europe. It has restored its wages and pensions to the level before the Global Financial Crisis ([Rank17]). This economic improvement mostly attracted activities to serve the American, financial and IT markets, with companies such as Randstad and BNP Paribas. Moreover, Spain is currently the fourth largest economy and has rapidly recovered from the crisis. The country is known for its high unemployment rate (17% in July 2017), new reforms to fire employees more easily, rising inequality and low wage growth ([Rank17]). The capital city Madrid and Barcelona are especially popular, because of the young work force, good infrastructure and the high number of business graduates.

Western Europe

Ireland, representing the West Europe outsourcing hub, has the highest costs for doing business. But the risks to outsource are not entirely negligible. Economic developments in Europe can have a huge impact, especially for an open country such as Ireland, since the economic growth and employment is greatly affected by international trade.

The movements in sociology

As stated by research of [Khan11], skilled human resources are one of the key success factors for outsourcing. Trends and movements in sociology can help to explain this key success factor. The EU has initiated a platform which analyzes European sociological trends. This platform is called the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (hereafter: ESPAS). The platform points out five major trends:

  • the rise of the global middle class;
  • a growing ageing population;
  • employment and the changing labor market;
  • evolving patterns and impacts of migration;
  • connected societies, empowered individuals.

These trends are summarized into four main topics:

  • rising inequality and more vulnerable groups;
  • the consequence of a new global consumer class;
  • adapting to a new demographic reality;
  • opportunities for individual empowerment but risk of a divide.

As described in the introduction of this section, one of the key success factors in outsourcing is skilled human resources. A lack of high-skilled resources could therefore be a trigger for the ‘backshoring’ phenomena. We chose to solely concentrate on these sociology aspects which suits best to the availability of skilled labor.

The phenomena of rising inequality and more vulnerable groups have been described as the rising gap between rich and poor within the EU. This gap has widened due to the financial crisis of 2008 and it is expected that this gap will increase further in the next decades. This implies unemployment for vulnerable groups. Along with the increasing gap between rich and poor, it is expected that this will not be in line with the changes in the labor market. It is forecasted that there will be an increase in jobs in the technology sector, whereas the supply side predicts that there will be a shortage in medium and high-skilled workers. Both factors can influence the sourcing phenomena. Whereas, in practice, outsourcing decisions are mainly taken based on a favorable business case, the increase between the rich and poor countries within the EU can imply a higher percentage of labor arbitrage and does not imply any trigger for the ‘backshoring’ phenomena. On the other side, a war on talent is being declared due to the lack of medium and high-skilled labor. This can be a trigger for the ‘backshoring’ decision, since the Dutch workforce is known for its medium to high-skilled workforce.

The new demographic reality is being described as a distinction between low-income countries and high-income countries. The low-income countries ‘do have a window of opportunity due to high fertility and a decline in infant mortality’. This increases the countries long-term working population and can ‘generate work opportunities for younger generations’. The high-income countries are being hit by an ageing population, which implies a decreasing working population. The last sociological topic is described as the opportunities for individual empowerment but risks of a divide. The empowerment of individuals, and therefore their access to education, is being increased due to economic development and technological innovation. Empowerment of the labor workforce of low-income countries and empowerment of women are being stimulated by these two aspects. The new demographic reality and the empowerment of individuals should therefore be rather a trigger for outsourcing than for ‘backshoring’.

Technological developments

We are living in an era of continuous technological improvements. These technological developments, and especially digital technologies such as cloud computing, data analytics, artificial intelligence and robotic process automation (RPA) are generally transforming the business environment and generate interest for, among others, security, control, storage and systems. Consequently, new technologies impact the production and service landscape of businesses.

Firstly, the opportunities for cloud computing (e.g. IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) enable flexibility in economies of scale and costs. This facilitates working in offshore/nearshore locations, as you have access to the cloud anytime and anywhere. However, companies have to guarantee data security, which is often inferior to the onshore location ([CBI15]). Secondly, gathering and analyzing big data has become a standard for European companies as this gives insight into potential innovation, sales, marketing, and business intelligence ([CBI15]). Although companies prefer data analytics in-house, the high level of investments and resources make it attractive to outsource. Moreover, it allows the company to focus on its core competences. Next, robotic process automation (RPA) is a process automation method to share or support a human interacting with a computer. This technology allows the ‘take over’ of repetitive, rule-based tasks (also called Basic Process Automation). In this way, companies are not spending money for an employee performing tasks on a computer and they want to guarantee a high level of quality, efficiency and speed, making it attractive to create a computer that does the same job. Although some would argue that these information and communication tools will replace employees and lead to cheaper, high-quality work – and thus have a negative effect on offshoring, e.g. [OECD15], others argue that the emergence of RPA is a move towards value-driven and complex activities with high-value added. In this case, reference is often made to Enhanced Process Automation (EPA) – e.g. the ability to generate learning capabilities, recognize patterns, work with unstructured data – or, even more complex, Cognitive Automation – e.g. self-learning, hypothesis generation, evidence-based learning. Artificial intelligence is also an example of cognitive automation. Although this technology is looming on the horizon, it can affect the outsourcing business by applying the right set of skills and investments. Intellectual offshoring may stay in-house because of minimal economic incentives, and thus more industry experts can be hired to even improve the core business.

Are the current BPO Suppliers able to anticipate the new wave of technological improvements? Does the emergence of such technologies support BPO Suppliers in identifying and offering new service capabilities that boost the existing offshore relationships?


Backshoring in Europe is not a major sourcing trend at this moment. Although technological improvements make it possible for a company to backshore its business services to the home country and thereby retain control over its own activities, the technologies are also accessible for BPO Suppliers. Hence, the costs of retransition would not outweigh the benefits. In addition, there are some uncertainties which may also affect the decision making of the business managers. These uncertainties are based on the identified risky macro-economic factors abroad (a further instable political environment and social and economic uncertainty) and attractive home country advantages (e.g. decrease of labor costs, increased productivity through technologies and the emerging extent of automation). Backshoring also implies benefits because the company is not dependent on an external BPO Supplier, and thus has full control over the quality and processes. However, there are still decisive drivers to offshore business services. Cost reduction is still the most important factor for first generation outsourcers, providing opportunities in Eastern Europe. Other factors are access to a global talent pool, focus on core competences and efficiency ([CBI15]).


[Amar16] R. Amaral, The most attractive European countries for outsourcing, Raconteur, September 2016.

[Bagl10] E. Baglieri, M. Bruno, E. Vasconcellos and A. Grando, International technology cooperation: The Fiat auto case, Revista de Administração e Inovação, 2010.

[Bouz17] A. Bouzanis, Economic Snapshot for Central & Eastern Europe, Focus Economics, 2017.

[CBI15] CBI, CBI Trade Statistics: Outsourcing in Europe, 2015.

[Ellr13] L.M. Ellram, W.L. Tate and K.J. Petersen, Offshoring and Reshoring: An Update on the Manufacturing Location Decision, Journal of Supply Chain Management, 2013.

[Foer16] K. Foerstl, J.F. Kirchoff and L. Bals, Reshoring and Fing: Drivers and Future Research Directions, International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management, 2016.

[Frat14] L. Fratocchi, C. Di Mauro, P. Barbieri, G. Nassimbeni and A. Zanoni, When manufacturing moves back: concepts and questions, Journal of Purchasing & Supply Management, 2014.

[Geor14] K. George, S. Ramaswamy and L. Rassey, Next-shoring: A CEO’s guide, McKinsey Quarterly, 2014/1.

[Hand13] S.M. Handley and W.C. Benton, The influence of task- and location-specific complexity on the control and coordination costs in global outsourcing relationships, Journal of Operations Management, 2013.

[ILO13] ILO, Re-Shoring in Europe: Trends and Policy Issues, Research Department Briefing, 2013.

[Khan11] S.U. Khan, M. Niazi and R Ahad, Barriers in the selection of offshore software development outsourcing vendors: an exploratory study using a systematic literature review, Information and Software, 2011.

[Merk14] C. Merk, J.Silver and F.D. Torrisi, Rebalancing your sourcing strategy, McKinsey, 2014.

[Mili87] F. Miliken, Three Types of Perceived Uncertainty about the Environment: State, Effect, and Response Uncertainty, The Academy of Management Review, 1987.

[Mohi13] M. Mohiuddin and Z. Su, Offshore Outsourcing of Core and Non-Core Activities and Integrated Firm-Level Performance: An Empirical Analysis of Québec Manufacturing SMEs, M@n@gement, 2013.

[OECD15] OECD, Robots in Manufacturing: A First Look at the Evidence, OECD Publishing, 2015.

[Rank17] J. Rankin, Weakest Eurozone economies on long road to recovery, The Guardian, 2017.

[Tall11] S. Tallman, Offshoring, Outsourcing, and Strategy in the Global Firm, AIB Insights, 2011.

[Tate14] W.L. Tate, Offshoring and reshoring: U.S. insights and research challenges, Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management, 2014.

[Thom07] H. Thomas, An analysis of the environment and competitive dynamics of management education, Journal of Management Development, 2007.

[UN17] United Nations, World Economic Situation and Prospects, 2017.

An agile approach to sourcing: increased speed and quality in supplier selection and contracting

An agile approach to sourcing can effectively shorten project timelines and improve the quality of the sourcing contract. A changing business context, more plug-and-play alternatives and the increased sourcing experience of buyers are all enablers of a new and faster approach to selection and contracting processes. However, not all companies or outsourcing projects are an appropriate match for this new approach. Candidates considering an agile approach should review a number of areas before making the decision, and should be aware of the prerequisites that need to be in place to make the project a success.


Outsourcing projects are complex and time-consuming. Depending on the scope, an outsourcing project can take six months to a year or even more. In today’s rapidly changing business landscape, companies cannot afford to spend another year on a conventional waterfall approach for contracting sourcing services. Time to market is becoming more important, and long implementation times diminish the added value of the requested services. In addition, due to the nature of evolved services available on the market, less effort is required in the transition of services due to plug-and-play alternatives that allow a faster time to market. All of these developments make the buyer more flexible in its quest to find the right supplier and drive the need for speed and efficiency.

Finding companies that outsource for the first time becomes rare. More often we see second, third or even fourth generation outsourcing, which means that companies have gone through the contracting and execution phase of contracts multiple times before. This also means that the buyer’s experience in sourcing is increasing. Managing external suppliers is not new anymore, and buyers continue to increase their understanding of which services they require. This eliminates the need for lengthy and resource consuming transaction processes.

A changing business context, more plug-and-play alternatives and the increased sourcing experience of buyers are all enablers of a new and faster approach to selection and contracting processes. This agile approach is characterized by short iterations, increased interaction with suppliers and a strong focus on the fit between the buyer’s needs and the supplier’s standard solution offerings.

This paper provides an expert opinion on an agile approach to sourcing, including an analysis of its importance. Furthermore, it provides the reader with tips and tricks on how to effectively apply and govern an agile approach to supplier selection and contracting. To provide insight from the market, a survey was conducted among a wide variety of suppliers that deal with (agile) selection processes on a daily basis. The results are incorporated in this article.

The traditional approach: lengthy and time-consuming


Figure 1. KPMG Sourcing Lifecycle. [Click on the image for a larger image]

In the overall sourcing lifecycle (see Figure 1), the solution phase (in which selection and contracting takes place) is typically preceded by a sourcing strategy assessment. The traditional selection and contracting process follows a linear, step-by-step implementation, as shown in Figure 2. Based on our experience, the best-case scenario spans 27–40 weeks; in real life however the timelines are typically between 9 to 12 months, due to multiple rounds of the engagement phase, stretching up to 15 months in specific cases. There is a strong need from both the buyer and the suppliers to decrease the lead time for these transactions, to be able to speed up the time to market of the requested services.


Figure 2. Traditional approach to selection and contracting. [Click on the image for a larger image]

The various process steps in a traditional selection and contracting process are as follows:

1. Inform

The traditional selection and contracting process starts with an internal view on the required services and the execution of an initial high-level market assessment. In this phase the transaction team of the buyer creates the outline of the scope, drafts high level requirements, starts up the baseline and base case data gathering, and identifies stakeholders in order to setup a project team and the associated meeting structures. In this phase, there is typically no supplier involvement.

2. Write up

The next phase is focused on drafting and sending out the Request for Proposal (RFP). The transaction team of the buyer sets up a RFP structure, including detailed requirements from a solution perspective, baseline information, price sheets, and other contractual documents. Typically drafting the RFP is dominated by internal alignment and determining requirements with the various stakeholders and subject matter experts. This process is predominately based on in-house knowledge, with potential help from advisors; usually suppliers are not involved in this phase and only the limited information received during a potential RFI phase is incorporated. Lead times are determined by the complexity of the services, level of detail of requirements and the commitment of the transaction team.

3. Engage

Once ready, the selected suppliers receive the RFP and have the possibility to submit questions for clarification purposes. Once the proposals are received, the buyer’s transaction team and internal subject matter experts evaluate the suppliers’ proposals. In addition, and as part of the evaluation process, suppliers are requested to present their proposal to the buyer. This is the first time the requested services and requirements are challenged, and typically results in one or more iterations to get to a solution that is fit-for-purpose. Furthermore, the business case is created, based on the provided pricing and outcomes of the discussions with the suppliers on the solution.

After the evaluation process usually two suppliers proceed to the Best And Final Offer (BAFO) phase. During this phase, the buyer and supplier jointly, and in various iterations, work on the finalization of the solution. Furthermore, the pricing and legal terms and conditions are discussed to reach the best possible position for the buyer. Once the suppliers submit their BAFO, the buyer makes a final decision and selects the preferred supplier.

4. Contract

The buyer and preferred supplier subsequently enter the ‘Contract’ phase. In this phase there is room for a final due diligence and negotiations. The due diligence allows the supplier to gather data and insights, which helps to draft a proposal with a higher level of certainty. Due to this certainty, the risk premium can be reduced, resulting in a better deal for the buyer. Along with the final negotiations, the transition plan is worked out in more detail, resulting in a contract that is ready to be signed, and a solid preparation for the implementation (transition) phase.

What is an agile approach to supplier selection and contracting?

The term ‘agile’ refers to the constant communication and collaboration during the selection process. In an agile approach, constant interaction occurs across the transaction lifecycle between buyer and supplier who, together, incrementally establish the content of the contract, adapting it along the way as needs or markets change. This helps ensure business requirements are well understood at the point of the RPF release and, as a result, we see in projects that the traditional stretched time line can be reduced to 22–32 weeks, with a higher probability of successfully meeting the set timelines.


Figure 3. Agile approach to supplier selection and contracting. [Click on the image for a larger image]

Unlike the traditional ‘waterfall approach’, which follows a linear, step-by-step implementation, an agile approach is more fluid and maintains flexibility to change as necessary. Each of the four key steps — inform, write up, engage, and contract — is still important, but the agile approach reshuffles the order of these activities to significantly speed up time to market. This requires a much more collaborative and outcome-based approach, involving continuous interaction between the buyer and supplier.

This faster implementation is facilitated to a great extent by the quality improvement that the approach provides in the short engage and write up cycles, avoiding the long term disconnect between requirements, write up and actual needs. In addition, predefined solutions that suppliers are bringing to the table shorten the time needed to draft extensive statements of work related to the particular business environment. Now the focus is on high-level outcomes, rather than detailing the process of how those outcomes have to be achieved. And because buyers are looking at standard market offerings, there is also less negotiation around service levels, the types of equipment to use, or any of the more configurable items. Discussions take place earlier and more frequently, resulting in an easier negotiation process that takes less time.

Benefits of an agile approach to supplier selection and contracting

In traditional selection and contracting processes, the ‘Engage’ phase is the most time consuming; suppliers are only involved after the buyer has written its requirements in the RFP. Consequently, there is limited room for suppliers to understand and challenge the buyer early in the process. In order to speed up the process and benefit from the knowledge and experience of the suppliers, the agile approach facilitates interaction early in the process. This bypasses the time-consuming process of drafting, reviewing, updating and re-writing the requirements, before sending them out to the candidate suppliers. Instead, the requirements will be developed through interaction with the suppliers in various workshops.

Benefits of an agile approach

  1. High quality service offering. A solution that is aligned with the buyer’s business requirements and developed through multiple iterations and vast interaction with suppliers.
  2. Short lead time. A shorter and more efficient transactions process, enabling the buyer to reap the benefits of the new outsourcing contract earlier compared to the traditional approach.
  3. Stronger collaboration. Agile outsourcing builds stronger collaboration within the buyer and the supplier ecosystem. Rather than having to compete with each other, suppliers can jointly work together to solve buyers’ issues and reap rewards for the work put in.
  4. Focus on business outcomes. Outsourcing is evolving from the conventional procurement transaction to an accelerated and collaborative partnership, leading to an outcome-focused transaction that benefits all parties.
  5. Faster time to market. Be it responding to volatile demand, spinning up infrastructure, or simply driving results from the get-go, agile outsourcing makes the most of dynamic market offerings and helps organizations respond faster to change.

Which determinants should be considered when designing a supplier selection and contracting process?

We asked suppliers for the percentage of deals that they are involved in that followed an agile approach. The majority answered that less than a quarter of all deals followed an agile approach. There are several reasons for this. Apart from the fact that this agile approach to sourcing is relatively new, not all companies or outsourcing projects are an appropriate match for an agile transaction. Candidates considering an agile approach should review the following areas when designing the supplier selection and contracting process:

  1. Does the buyer have experience with outsourcing transactions? The readiness of an organization to adopt agile sourcing depends on various factors. The maturity of the buyer, or the experience with outsourcing transactions, determines whether a buyer is capable of running an agile sourcing process.
  2. Is a transfer of staff applicable? When a transfer of staff is involved in the outsourcing project this also impacts the timelines. Something as sensitive as a transfer of staff cannot be rushed. Furthermore, there are often fixed timelines associated with works councils and labor unions. These timelines should be taken into consideration when drafting the overall selection and contracting process. Although the solution can be handled in an agile approach, the outcomes of the solution needs to be weighed against the HR scenario.
  3. Does the transaction process concern first generation outsourcing? If the buyer in the current situation has not outsourced the services yet, it will be extremely difficult to get a good idea about the required services through an agile process. Furthermore, the buyer is less likely to have the required experience with outsourcing transactions.
  4. Is your project complex? If the project involves multiple functions, providers, contracts, and/or locations, it should be carefully considered whether agile sourcing is the right approach as it involves more effort to maintain consistency across all domains.
  5. Do you have committed leadership and resources? In order to keep up the pace in the process, the buyer should have a team committed to the outsourcing project. Furthermore, leadership with the right skills and attitude are critical.
  6. How would you characterize your organization’s decision-making processes? A buyer that is organized hierarchically, or that has a very complex decision-making process, can impede the agile sourcing process. An agile sourcing process requires responsiveness, flexibility and above all the ability to move fast.
  7. Is there sufficient analysis in place for your company to make the right decision? If this is not the case, you probably need more time to gather the required information. Not having this information readily available will hinder the speed of the selection process.


Figure 4. Determinants when designing a supplier selection and contracting process. [Click on the image for a larger image]

Which prerequisites should be in place for a supplier selection and contracting process that follows an agile approach?

In the process of agile contracting, it remains important to have a good starting position. A high-level overview of the current state, volume metrics and requirements for the requested solution need to be available and supported by the internal organization. Simply said, if you want to go from A to B, you should know where you are and where you want to go to.

  1. Keep the requirements at a functional level, do not write out every detail, as this will be given shape during the process.
  2. Be sure to involve the stakeholders at an early stage of the project to get buy-in and a shared starting position. An IT sourcing strategy is very useful, it provides a clear direction and enables decision making based on goals rather than gut feeling.
  3. Gather the hard requirements from Legal, Security and Compliance perspectives. These points are typically not directly related to the first brainstorm session, but will have an impact on the write-up sessions and set the boundaries of what is possible. Does the buyer have a standard MSA (Master Service Agreement) that sets out the legal terms and conditions that need to be used? Use it in the shaping sessions to find blocking issues early in the process. Is there no MSA available yet? Request the standard MSA from the supplier, they all have them readily available.
  4. Involve Communications, Finance, HR, Tax, QA, Risk, and Legal at an early stage. These functions will most likely have a role in the project and can potentially influence the timelines.
  5. Properly staff the buyer transaction team and make sure resources have adequate time to join the write-up sessions with the suppliers. It will be short, but intense.
  6. Share the process steps and timelines with the involved suppliers and request their feedback on the feasibility. The short cycle will only work if all parties are available and have the proper resources.

Success factors when following an agile approach to sourcing

During a large number of agile transaction processes, we have identified a number of success factors when following an agile approach to sourcing. The most relevant ones are listed below:

  1. Before choosing an agile approach, the aforementioned prerequisites should be carefully considered. If the buyer does not match one or more of the prerequisites, there is a chance that a traditional selection and contracting process is a better option.
  2. The buyer should be willing to accept standard solutions, preferably plug-and-play. Typically, buyers tend to over specify the products and services. However, the faster implementation of an agile sourcing process is driven to a great extent by the predefined solutions that are offered by the suppliers. This also requires leadership buy-in to adopting new, more standardized AaS (As a Service) outsourcing options from suppliers and using a different approach to specifying requirements.
  3. The transaction team is responsible for managing the transactions process on behalf of the buyer organization. Buyers often underestimate the time and effort that goes into the process. A mature and dedicated transaction team with independent, self-managed resources is recommended.
  4. Frequent iterations driving constant communication, versus intermittent, milestone-based reviews. The ability to move fast starts with the chance to signal misunderstandings or even faults early in the process. When drafting the RFP and contract with the buyer, we preferably share a new version of the documents every week for the buyer to review. But also, with the suppliers, KPMG prefers to work in short iterations to achieve the desired result.
  5. An agile based sourcing process has a different heartbeat and game rules compared to traditional projects. This can lead to challenges for the suppliers, especially when the short timelines are in conflict with the availability of key staff. In order to overcome these issues, leadership involvement and commitment from suppliers participating in the selection process is critical. In the current situation, suppliers tell us that they are involved in designing the selection process in only 10-25% of all transactions.
  6. Due to the intensity of the process, the project will benefit from a facilitator. This facilitator informs and assists all involved parties, allowing the buyer to focus on setting the requirements and the supplier to focus on their proposal.

Pitfalls when following an agile approach to sourcing

The biggest pitfall lies with the buyer; the buyer should be prepared for an intense process with short timelines. This process requires a dedicated transaction team with additional subject matter experts from the buyer’s organization. The number of suppliers involved in the process also determines the workload; this must be taken into consideration. The goal is to invite a sufficient number of suppliers to make an informed decision, but to not overdo this by inviting too many suppliers with the risk of losing the span of control.

In an agile sourcing process, the buyer requirements are detailed over time and in various iterations. When the buyer organization is very decentralized (i.e. various business units or geographically spread), the agile process can post a challenge for internal alignment. If one or more of the business units do not conform to the company standard and require custom solutions, the transaction team should make sure that there is a sound argument for doing so.

Be aware of a supplier lock-in when entering an agile sourcing process with only two suppliers. When one of the suppliers underperform or cannot meet the requirements, there is a serious consequence for the negotiation position of the buyer. Hence, we always advise to have a minimum of three suppliers in the process. In order to select the right suppliers in this process, it is key to draft selection criteria before going ahead with the suppliers, and to have the possibility to change suppliers early in the process when it turns out the supplier is not suited for the request.

Supplier involvement

The traditional approach is time and resource consuming for the supplier; in the various process steps a team of specialists and sales people needs to work on the proposal. This team ideally is kept together for this long timeframe; speeding up the process helps in getting the right team, as long as from the start of the process this team has been setup with the right resources. It is key that the supplier makes sure this is the case, and challenges the buyer if timelines are too aggressive to meet this goal. If achieved this makes the sales cycle shorter, freeing up resources for other projects and so overall decreasing the cost of sales.

Compared to waterfall approaches, the agile approach has attention points. There will be parallel sessions in the ‘write up’ phase, which need to be staffed properly. Typically, the write up phase is executed on premises to get to the best result, conference calls, video conferencing and working remotely can impact the quality of the sessions.

Suppliers want to be involved as early as possible in contracting cycles, to be able to shape the deal and to assure the right messages get across to the buyer. In our view it is important for the supplier to speak up if timelines are not achievable. Nobody wants to be the first to say something cannot be done, but sometimes this is necessary to arrive at the best result. When given the opportunity to speak up, use it to understand and align all process steps.

Getting the team briefed and ready for the sessions is crucial for a good result. Making sure outcomes of the sessions are mutually understood and captured is a responsibility of both the buyer and supplier. Assemble the team in such a way that you cover multiple areas: solution, commercial, project support, etc. When following up on actions, be aware of the potential impact on other streams. The cross-stream element should be managed well to safeguard consistency in the proposal.


An agile approach to sourcing can effectively shorten project timelines and improves the quality of the sourcing contract. Outsourcing projects are complex and time-consuming. However, a changing business context, more plug-and-play alternatives and the increased sourcing experience of buyers are all enablers of a new and faster approach to selection and contracting processes. This agile approach is characterized by short iterations, increased interaction with suppliers and a strong focus on the fit between the buyer’s needs and the supplier’s standard solution offerings. Constant interaction occurs across the transaction lifecycle between buyer and supplier who, together, incrementally establish the content of the contract, adapting it along the way as needs or markets change. Unlike the traditional ‘waterfall approach’, which follows a linear, step-by-step implementation, an agile approach is more fluid and maintains flexibility to change as necessary. In order to speed up the process and benefit from the knowledge and experience of the suppliers, the agile approach facilitates interaction early in the process. This bypasses the time-consuming process of drafting, reviewing, updating and re-writing the requirements before sending it out to the candidate suppliers.

Not all companies or outsourcing projects are an appropriate match for an agile transaction. Candidates considering an agile approach should review a number of areas before making the decision, and should be aware of the prerequisites that need to be in place for an agile process. Based on the assessment made, alternative approaches that contain parts of the agile sourcing methodology can be used for a successful implementation and faster time to market. Experience on a large number of selection processes, both traditional and agile, resulted in clear success factors and pitfalls. We hope that our view and the takeaways from this paper can help companies to successfully apply an agile approach to their transaction processes.

Challenges in IT multisourcing arrangements

Today, IT multisourcing is considered to be the dominant sourcing strategy in the market. However, the way in which clients and vendors exchange information and create value within such arrangements can be quite a challenge, due to interdependencies. This paper explores an IT multisourcing arrangement in more detail, to identify challenges and provide a strategy to overcome these challenges and create value. Based on what we have learned from various IT multisourcing arrangements, we have developed a reference model that can be used by clients and vendors to govern their eco-system, and as such, encourage value creation.


As the market for IT outsourcing services increased significantly over time, IT vendors had to specialize ([Gonz06]) to distinguish themselves and remain competitive. IT outsourcing arrangements evolved from a dyadic client-vendor relationship to an environment that includes multiple vendors ([Bapn10], [Palv10]). Currently, a multisourcing strategy is said to be the dominant modus operandi of firms. The shift from single sourcing towards multisourcing arrangements provide firms with benefits, such as quality improvements by selecting a vendor perceived as best in class, access to external capabilities and skills, and mitigating the risks of vendor lock-in. Firms that are involved in collaborative networks have to significantly invest in time, commitment and building trust to achieve common value creation and capturing by means of interaction between multiple sourcing parties. Within the context of IT multisourcing arrangements, which can be considered as collaborative networks or eco-systems, parties within such an arrangement need to coordinate their tasks due to interdependencies. However, it is important to consider how parties exchange information and knowledge and contribute to common value creation. Consequently, if parties are not able or willing to exchange information and knowledge this may result in barriers that affect common value ([Plug15]). Given this challenge, we argue that a holistic approach is required to delineate and analyze the relationships in an IT multisourcing arrangement as a whole. First, by using the metaphor of an eco-system, we are able to study interdependencies between clients and vendors, addressing themes like specialization and value creation. Second, parties that do exchange information and knowledge in an eco-system are influenced by the degree of openness, clear entry and exit rules, and governance, which correspond to Business Model thinking. The value of this advanced understanding is that common value creation within the context of IT multisourcing can be explained, while barriers that hinder these processes are identified.

IT Multisourcing and eco-systems

IT Multisourcing

Practice shows that an IT multisourcing arrangement is based on the idea that two or more external vendors are involved in providing IT services towards a client. The basic assumption is that external vendors work cooperatively to achieve the client’s business objectives. This may relate to IT projects, but also to more regular types of services, such as managed workplaces, IT (cloud) infrastructure services (e.g. IaaS and PaaS) and application management services ([Beul05]). Importantly, collaboration between parties in a competing IT multisourcing arrangement is key to align their interests, avoid tensions, and strive to achieve common value. Value is created through interaction and mutually beneficial relationships by sharing resources and exchanging IT services. In general, it is assumed that value is created by the client organization and its external vendors ([Rome11]). So, in value creation the focus is on a service that is distinctive in the eyes of the client. Value creation can be seen as an all-encompassing process, without any distinctions between the roles and actions of a client and the vendors in that process. Thus, an IT multisourcing environment can be conceptualized as an eco-system ([Moor93]), in which the client and vendors exchange information and knowledge to jointly create and capture value.


The idea of an eco-system is to capture value to the network as a whole, as well as take care that the client and vendors get their fair share of created value, or focus on capturing the largest part of the common value for themselves. The latter may negatively affect the sustainability of the eco-system. Eco-system thinking is more based on flexibility and value as core elements. Flexibility is necessary to respond to changing market developments, fierce competition, but also to opportunities. However, interdependencies between a client and its vendors may hinder the exchange of information and knowledge, and thus hinder value creation. This may lead to the underperformance of the eco-system in the long run. A strategy to overcome interdependence challenges, is that a client and its vendors regularly align their common interests, as well as their day-to-day operations. Hence, value creation and capturing needs to be established at a network/eco-system level while paying attention to the business models of all individual eco-system partners in order for an eco-system to survive. To achieve value in the eco-system as a whole, existing contracts between the client and vendors must include guidelines on how to collaborate and exchange information to support value creation.


Specifically, from an operational perspective specifying long-term IT outsourcing contracts that span multiple vendors is complex and inherently incomplete, because clients and vendors have to deal with uncertainty and unanticipated obligations and incidents. Hence, clients should govern an eco-system beyond traditional contractual agreements and also build mutual relationships to support the exchange of information. However, this may cause a challenge as vendors may have conflicting goals and objectives, such as increasing their revenue at the cost of their competitor or the absence of financial agreements to fulfill additional tasks. In summary, key challenges that may arise in an IT multisourcing arrangement are: incomplete contracts, competition between vendors, willingness to share and transfer knowledge between vendors, and a lack of a client’s governance to manage the landscape as a whole. These challenges may hinder value creation, which is considered as the preferable outcome of establishing an IT multisourcing arrangement. To indicate value creation challenges, the case study below describes how a client and three key vendors deal with IT multisourcing challenges.

Case study

The client under study is positioned in the fast-moving consumer goods market and sells products in Europe. Importantly, the client’s business processes are highly dependent on IT to fulfill their customers’ needs in time, e.g. ordering systems, logistic function, replenishment, and payments. Today, the client is expanding its portfolio as online business is growing, while new store formats are being developed to extend the range of products. In order to retain their competitive position in the market, the client had to decrease the cost level of its IT. Currently, the client is in the midst of a business application transformation. This involves transitioning from various legacy applications to a new application landscape, developed to support new business strategies (e.g. online shopping). The setting for this case study focuses on the outsourcing relationships between the client and three key IT vendors. As illustrated in Figure 1, Vendor 1 is responsible for the IT infrastructure services, which are geographically dispersed across various data centers. Vendor 2, who acts as a service integrator, provides services related to various legacy applications. Next, Vendor 3 also acts as a service integrator, however, with regard to cloud services enabling applications that support the new business strategy. In addition, the client extended the multisourcing arrangement by contracting sixty smaller IT vendors, all acting as subcontractors (S), providing services to the three key vendors. We interviewed eighteen representatives at the client, as well as the vendor organizations, to identify the specific multivendor challenges that they experience.


Figure 1. Multi-sourcing arrangement under study. [Click on the image for a larger image]

Contractual challenges

Our case study shows the contractual relations between the client and each vendor. Considering the eco-system, we find that the contracts comprise high-level information with regard to a coherent inter-organizational structure, strategy, and plan, as well as the position of each party and their mutual relationships. Moreover, documentation showed that the client set up entry and exit rules on how to deal with new vendors, for example technology partners like Microsoft and Oracle. However, we did not find any detailed information on the set-up and implementation of eco-system entry and exit rules at the client or at the vendors. The absence of such details resulted in fierce discussions about service provisioning between the client and its vendors over time. Hence, the lack of details regarding entry and exit rules hinder parties in creating value.

‘We have to become much more mature to be flexible and change partners regularly in our arrangement. This means that we have to work on the details like specs. This allows us to collaborate better and prevent technical discussions between all parties.’ (Source: Client CIO.)

We did not find information that formal contracts include collaborative agreements and plans between eco-system partners, even though operational services have to be delivered by collaborating, and in other domains competing, vendors. All vendors set up Operational Level Agreements (OLAs) to improve the service performance as IT services are mutually dependent. However, these agreements are informal, and not included in the contracts.

‘Based on an informal agreement with the other vendors we started to collaborate on an operational level. For instance, we shared technical application maintenance information with Vendor 1 to deploy and tune our application with their IT infrastructure.’ (Source: Vendor 3 – Contract and delivery lead.)

Figure 2 illustrates the contractual relationships within the eco-system. The straight lines (A) represent the formal bi-lateral contracts between the client and its vendors. The dotted lines (B) show the informal operational agreements between the vendors.


Figure 2. Contractual relationships. [Click on the image for a larger image]

Service portfolio challenges

We identified that the client consciously developed a service portfolio blueprint and plan, and allocated the various IT services to the three vendors respectively. The service portfolio plan and the division of services is supported by formal and informal agreements (i.e. contracts and Operational Level Agreements), while clear boundaries and scope are set with regard to who is responsible for service integration tasks. However, we found that on a more operational level the way in which the service portfolio is governed across the eco-system is ambiguous. We observed that the service boundaries of the vendors on a detailed level were overlapping, resulting in various operational disputes. Examples were related to specifying functional requirements, conducting impact analyses, and technical application management. Consequently, as the vendors were reluctant to collaborate with each other, the client experienced a decrease in service performance, and an extension of project lead times, affecting value creation.

‘The client has set up a service portfolio plan that describes the boundaries of each IT domain, but this plan is not sufficient. In fact, the existing plan can be seen as high level with limited details; actually it’s a workflow diagram that lacks concrete tasks that result in service overlaps.’ (Source: Vendor 2 – Contract manager.)

Due to multiple service interdependencies between the vendors, we noticed that service boundary overlap was considered to be a barrier that affected the exchange of information and knowledge, and as such hindered value creation. We found evidence that the vendors under study shared information mutually, as multiple ad hoc meetings were initiated to discuss and solve operational performance issues. This form of collaboration is more dependent on informal operational agreements and trust, which is typical for an eco-system.

Figure 3 depicts the service portfolio relationships within the eco-system. The straight lines represent the formal service portfolio agreements between the vendors as described in the contracts. The dotted lines represent the informal service portfolio agreements between the vendors and the client.


Figure 3. Service portfolio streams. [Click on the image for a larger image]

Information and knowledge challenges

We found that IT services are partially based on the willingness of the client and vendors to exchange information and knowledge, and that informal arrangements are becoming more apparent. Since applications and IT infrastructure are loosely coupled, the employees of the vendors have to exchange information within the eco-system to ensure the availability and performance of IT services. Due to indistinct service descriptions, which were caused by overlapping service boundaries, and competition between vendors; vendors are unwilling to share technical information with regard to applications and infrastructure. The vendors who are part of the eco-system are also competitors, because they are able to provide comparable services to the client. Hence, vendors focus on safeguarding their Intellectual Properties (IP) to retain their competitive advantage.

‘There are IP issues amongst vendors, even for simple things like sharing information on Unit Testing and end-to-end testing. Due to their competition vendors do not want to share technical information. Moreover, the vendors that act as Service Integrators provide similar types of services in the same market and both act as strong competitors.’ (Source: Client Sourcing Manager 2.)

On an operational level, information was exchanged between the client and vendors on an informal basis. We found that employees of V2 and V3 are willing to share information informally to prevent underperformance of their IT services. As V2 and V3 were held responsible by the client for service integration tasks, their employees shared technical information amongst eco-system partners that was related to application work-a-rounds, reporting information, and IT tooling. Actually, no formal processes were set up. Instead employees distributed information when it seemed relevant for the eco-system partners. This approach contributed to building trust between autonomous eco-system partners and reduced the level of operational risk. Figure 4 illustrates that all parties exchange information and knowledge. The straight lines indicate that each party is involved in sending and receiving information and knowledge to support the delivery of IT services.


Figure 4. Information and knowledge exchange. [Click on the image for a larger image]

By reviewing the various perspectives, we are able to identify similarities and distinctions between client and vendors in sharing services and information. Based on the case study, we have summarized some key challenges below:

  1. the client deliberately focuses on a ‘power’ role to manage the vendors, and as such, competition between vendors is encouraged and this restricts their willingness to exchange services and information;
  2. due to the partial incompleteness of the contracts and the service portfolio overlap additional information and knowledge has to be exchanged amongst the vendors, which limits their efficiency;
  3. the limited degree of interaction from the perspective of the client implicates a mistrust towards the vendors and hinders the establishment of a common interest.

Overall, the challenges show that value creation is hindered, because the relationships between the client and vendors are unbalanced. By applying governance mechanisms to the challenges as described above, the client and vendors are able to develop a strategy to overcome these challenges.

Strategy to create value by using an eco-system approach

Based on a review of various IT multisourcing arrangements during the past decade, we have developed a reference model to overcome IT multisourcing challenges. The objective of KPMG’s multisourcing reference model is to establish a coherent eco-system that can be governed effectively. As such, clients and vendors may benefit from establishing an environment that is focused on creating value, rather than stimulating competition. KPMG’s IT multisourcing reference model can be used to assess how governance between parties is set up, in order to identify ‘governance blind spots’. The methodology focuses on governing the interdependencies between four essential governance modes, namely: inter-organizational mode, contractual mode, relational mode, and collaborative mode. Each governance mode comprises various attributes that are studied in-depth to reveal their existence, as well as their mutual relationships. Importantly, the reference model can be used to assess the governance between a client and its vendors, and between vendors. As a result, identified governance deficiencies can be repaired, which contributes to achieving a sustainable sourcing performance of all parties over time. The reference model (see Figure 5) consists of multiple layers, in which each governance mode attribute (Layer 1) can be broken down into various building blocks (Layer 2), to specify the details.


Figure 5. KPMG’s multisourcing reference model. [Click on the image for a larger image]

Inter-Organizational governance mode

With regard to the first governance mode ‘Inter-Organizational governance’, the key objective is to determine an inter-organizational structure, to identify the role of each party (client and vendor) in the eco-system. A corporate framework that describes the role of the client and its vendors is helpful to be able to position each party. In addition, strategic guidelines or policies can be established to avoid uncertainty with regard to the role of each vendor. Examples are: setting up clear entry and exit rules for vendors, describing a coherent architecture to guard service boundaries between all vendors, and establishing a service portfolio framework that reflects the eco-system as a whole.

Contractual governance mode

The ‘contractual governance’ mode determines and ensures that contractual aspects and their interdependencies are described in a thorough manner. As a starting point, regular bilateral service agreements between the client and each vendor are described to ensure the provisioning and quality of IT services. In case one or multiple vendors act in the role of service integrator, additional guidelines are required to describe and agree on end-to-end (E2E) service agreements. In practice, this is more difficult compared to single outsourcing arrangements, as multiple vendors are dependent on each other, in which the service integrator has the final service responsibility towards the client. Next, mutual Operational Level Agreements (OLAs) are required to streamline operational tasks between the vendors, for instance in sharing information about workarounds and technical application maintenance tasks. In the end, rules regarding Governance, Risk, and Compliance also need to be setup to ensure that the eco-system as a whole is regulated guided.

Relational governance mode

When addressing the ‘relational governance’ mode, it is important to identify and describe the mutual relationships between all parties. Common activities are setting up a regular meeting structure between a client and each vendor. However, it is also beneficial to implement cross client vendor meetings, since vendors might be interdependent. As such, it is relevant to also exchange vendor-vendor information. This results in the need to create clarity on mutual roles and responsibilities between all parties. An eco-system RACI (Responsibility, Accountability, Consulted, Informed) matrix might help to structure and guard the role of each party. General procedures further guide the exchange of information between the client and vendors, for instance about the replacement of key personnel, invoice mechanisms, complaint management and dispute resolution procedures.

Collaborative governance mode

The ‘collaborative governance’ mode determines and encourages collaboration between parties in order to deliver end-to-end services. Key topics are developing and implementing processes that support collaboration between the client and vendors, creating a culture that is based on sharing information and balancing the power-dependence relationship. Moreover, establishing shared values and understanding may encourage collaboration even further, for example by creating a shared vision and common objectives and commitment. In addition, mechanisms can be developed to exchange information and knowledge, and promote continuous learning and capability development between the eco-system parties. These topics create a ‘what’s in it for us’ way of working, that relates to the philosophy of Vested Outsourcing ([Vita12]).


Finally, tooling can be used to support the above-mentioned governance modes effectively. In practice, various solutions are available that streamline mutual activities to increase performance and limit the number of faults or disputes between eco-system parties. For example, tooling is used to support IT services and IT processes ([Oshr15]). Collaborative tools are used to automatically exchange information between the client and vendors, and increase awareness and continuous learning. Accounting and reporting tools can be used to report IT (end-to-end) performance, financial status and invoices, and contractual obligations. Figure 6 illustrates the reference model in the form of a governance heat map that reflects the status of the eco-system.


Figure 6. Reference model illustrated as a governance heat map. [Click on the image for a larger image]


Based on the lessons learned from various IT multisourcing arrangements and the conducted case study, we experienced that a holistic perspective is needed to align single governance modes and create a coherent approach to transform into an eco-system. The benefit of a coherent approach is that clear ‘rules of engagement’ can be defined between all parties that limit service boundary overlap, and increase collaboration by exchanging information and knowledge, which is a prerequisite for value creation. The KPMG IT multisourcing reference model has been applied both in the Netherlands and abroad, and is perceived to be a proven approach to transform an IT multisourcing arrangement into an IT eco-system. By applying the model, clients and vendors may use this strategic instrument to improve their services and create value.


[Bapn10] R. Bapna, A. Barua, D. Mani and A. Mehra, Cooperation, Coordination, and Governance in Multisourcing: An Agenda for Analytical and Empirical Research, Information Systems Research, 21(4), 2010, p. 785-795.

[Beul05] E. Beulen, P. Van Fenema and W. Currie, From Application outsourcing to Infrastructure Management: Extending the Offshore Outsourcing Service Portfolio, European Management Journal, 23(2), 2005, p. 133-144.

[Gonz06] R. Gonzalez, J. Gasco, J. Llopis, IS outsourcing: a literature analysis, Information and Management, 43, 2006, p. 821-834.

[Moor93] J.F. Moore, Predators and Prey: A New Ecology of Competition, Harvard Business Review, 1993.

[Oshr15] I. Oshri, J. Kotlarski, L.P. Willcocks, The Handbook of Global Outsourcing and Offshoring, 3rd edition, Palgrave Macmillan: London, 2015.

[Palv10] P.C. Palvia, R.C. King, W. Xia and S.C.J. Palvia, Capability, Quality, and Performance of Offshore IS Vendors: A Theoretical Framework and Empirical Investigation, Decision Science, 41(2), 2010, p. 231-270.

[Plug15] A.G. Plugge and W.A.G.A. Bouwman, Understanding Collaboration in Multisourcing Arrangements: A Social Exchange Perspective, In: I. Oshri, J. Kotlarsky, and L.P. Willcocks (Eds.), Achieving Success and Innovation in Global Sourcing: Perspectives and Practices, LNBIP 236, p. 171-186, Berlin Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag, 2015.

[Rome11] D. Romero, A. Molina, Collaborative Networked Organisations and Customer Communities: Value Co-Creation and Co-Innovation in the Networking Era, Production Planning and Control, 22(4), 2011, p. 447-472.

[Vita12] K. Vitasek and K. Manrodt, Vested outsourcing: a flexible framework for collaborative outsourcing, Strategic Outsourcing: An International Journal, 5(1), 2012, p. 4-14.

CFO? CIO? The world needs a CHRO!

The expectations of Millennials about their work environment, labor shortages, changed expectations of HR service delivery and of course the opportunities that robotics, enabling technology and data analytics offer, force organizations and HR in particular to adapt and prepare for the future. A future where people take center stage, because they add unique value to the organization.

Since people are one of the most important resources for the organization, they require a Chief HR Officer to be a strategic partner in the Board of Management and to support topics that are becoming more important for them, such as talent management, strategic workforce and succession planning. To meet the new expectations and offer suitable HR services, organizations can no longer hold on to the classic Ulrich model.

The future of HR demands an HR model that can quickly change along with economic and technological developments, on a large scale, and without restrictions. Roles as architects and multi-disciplinary teams enter the arena, to benefit from new technologies. Organizations cannot afford not to embrace change, if they want to avoid being overtaken by the competition.

Changed expectations and influences increase the value of people

What is the most important resource impacting organizations in our knowledge driven economy, but also in transport and logistics, healthcare and any other sector? People. It is not production or operations that allow the organization to function, these have probably already been automated or robotized, as in the automobile and chemical industry. The unique value that organizations are always looking for, are people. They are the ones who constantly translate customer needs into new product and service offerings, search for innovations that makes their organization stand out and make improvements through their knowledge, skills and experience.

For the new workforce generation, the so-called Millennials, it is all about flexibility and mobility. The Millennials work to live the life they want to lead, with a good work-life balance, a job where they can contribute to society and be heard by their boss. When the job does not fulfill their requirements, the Millennials will go and look for another one that does, as shown by research done by, amongst others, Pew Research Center and Deloitte ([PEWR10], [DELO16]). The economy is now picking up and there is a labor shortage. These changes in society and economy influence the workforce and succession planning of organizations. These need to deliver a top performance and be innovative in order to recruit and preserve top talent.

At the same time, organizations search for more ways to meet the goals and expectations of stakeholders. Expectations such as turnover and profit, increasing volumes and share prices. Organizations therefore outsource their processes, to save money or focus on core activities. This also applies to HR processes, as Unilever and ABN Amro have done. Others do so by applying Lean principles and creating predictability. Where possible, processes are standardized and made more predictable to enable digitalization and a reduction of human labor. Even though the unique value of organizations are its people, they are also often an expensive resource, the least predictable and require the most care.

Adding value is not only about producing and delivering more, faster and meeting financial goals. It is also about satisfying and delivering on customer expectations. Where we use ‘Customer Experience’ for most services, for HR we talk about the ‘Employee Experience’. Research from KPMG Nunwood ([Conw16]) shows that organizations with good customer ratings, also score better as a great place to work.

The employee experience has to meet expectations on product and service offerings, the way these are available, how and how fast processes can be navigated, and the freedom of choice employees have. They expect nothing less of the HR function than they would as a regular customer: digitalization, availability anytime, anywhere, and everything can be customized. Think of mobile apps to register worked hours and time off, onboarding apps with information on the new team, access to training and knowledge sharing, short lead times for recruitment and using online games instead of selection based on a motivation letter and CV.

It is no surprise that there is more focus, or more focus needed, from the Boards of Management (BoM) to keep this so important resource healthy, happy and successful. Organization-wide HR topics such as talent management, strategic workforce and succession planning, vitality and performance management are constantly high on the C-level agenda.

The world needs a CHRO

These HR topics, on the BoM agenda, change the position of the Chief HR Officer (CHRO). In the past years, the role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) has already changed under the influence of digitalization. Often, organizations also have a Chief Digital Officer, whom is placed next to or above the CIO in hierarchy, as researched earlier by KPMG ([HARV14]). IT as a function, where this is a supporting function, has become part of regular operations. Traditionally, the Chief Financial Officer has a leading role on operations, within the BoM. However, Finance also has a supportive function within the organization. In our experience, when optimizing and robotizing processes, it are especially the predictable finance processes, including procurement, contract management and reporting, that can be robotized well. Processes and analyses that were previously seen as essential and leading for good governance, and therefore typically work for humans, can now be performed by robots. Taking decisions based on analyses, decisions on investments and innovations, or determining added value are typically not replaced. That is still considered human labor. The CHRO’s position will therefore grow stronger, at the expense of the CFO, since it is the CHRO who can give guidance to the organization’s future and success, with his vision on HR and approach to the most important HR topics that influence the employee experience.


Figure 1. Classic Ulrich model. [Click on the image for a larger image]

All this requires a different organization of the HR function. Most organizations have strived for the Ulrich model for their HR. This model describes four roles in HR. According to Ulrich, each role has a specific set of activities, such as administrative, supporting tasks in the shared service center and strategic HR advising by the Business Partner. Many organizations have never been able to fully implement the model, causing the four roles to exist next to each another as silos.


Figure 2. Prevalent HR model. [Click on the image for a larger image]

Organizations need to move to a more dynamic, adaptive model, to provide for the changing HR needs of employees, quickly and on a large scale. A boundary-less model, where teams and roles work together, either human or robot, would work well to integrate all the available opportunities. Intelligent automation, such as enabling technology, robotics and data analytics are ways in which this boundary-less service delivery is possible. It should be used to fulfill the most important HR topics and help realize the goals of the CHRO. Organizations simply cannot afford not to embrace these new technologies for their service delivery if they want to be prepared for the future.


Figure 3. KPMG Boundary-less HR model. [Click on the image for a larger image]

KPMG research suggests that 92% of organizations that view HR as a key business function, expect Intelligent Automation to have significant impact on the HR function ([KPMG17-1]). And 65% of CEOs see technological disruption as an opportunity, not a threat ([KPMG17-2]).

Enabling Technology is vital for a good Employee Experience

Enabling Technology describes all applications and systems intended to support the HR processes in such a way that employee expectations can be met. Processes are made more efficient and more effective through the use of enabling technology. It allows processes to be run anywhere, anytime, make changes, request new services and check statuses. An employee can register his working hours via an app on his mobile phone and view overtime or personal time off.

Operational processes are essential for the entire employee experience and other strategic organization-wide programs. For example, recruited talent can be given direct access to all kinds of information via the onboarding app. This facilitates onboarding processes such as data entry, testing, training and scheduling appointments to collect laptops and mobile phones and gives the employee a jump-start. This contributes to the employee experience, but also to the productivity of the employee. 36% of organizations expect to deploy enabling technology for HR, while they redesign their target operating model. Primary areas of focus are Talent Management (61%) and Recruitment & Onboarding (57%) ([KPMG17-1]).

Workflow tools and HR systems such as Workday, ServiceNow and SAP SuccessFactors are examples of Enabling Technology. Mobile apps are another example of Enabling Technology.

Recruitment at KPMG becomes an experience with Harver

KPMG Netherlands wishes to improve the experience of candidates during the recruitment process by implementing the Harver ‘Talent Pitch Platform’. With this platform, KPMG digitalizes a large part of the selection process. Candidates go through an ‘experience’ of about one and a half hours where they are tested on suitability for a job at KPMG. Whereas traditionally the information during the recruitment process is one-sided from the candidate, the platform can be used to extensively inform the candidate about KPMG topics. Job interviewing is less bound by time and place with this platform, which is in line with the needs of ‘the Millennials’, the new workforce generation.

Gamification is also a trend that is found within the platform. Traditional capacity and personality tests are replaced by playful tests and there are integrated games that simulate dilemma situations someone might encounter at KPMG. The candidate has to choose the most effective solution in the given situation using the information provided. KPMG can evaluate how well someone judges situations and how adequately they react.

The selection criteria have initially been set together with a psychologist, but by applying Data Analytics, these can be adapted in the future. By combining performance data of employees with data from the platform, it can be determined what the actual success factors are for success at KPMG. Candidate selection is made a lot more valid than the current subjective way, based on motivational letters and CVs. Prejudice and discrimination is minimized. Additionally, the data gives KPMG insight into the capabilities and drivers of our employees, a wealth of information, that helps KPMG develop towards a desired culture, for example one where there is a focus on diversity. Based on facts, not on gut feelings.

Strategic HR advice based on data analytics truly provides added value to the business

Data analytics is already often used for reporting, where conclusions can be drawn in hindsight. There are several providers of HR KPI and metrics dashboards. These dashboards show the organization’s current state.

There is enormous potential for more in-depth relevant analyses of HR data that make connections between different sources of data and data points and create forecasts.


Figure 4. HR metrics dashboard example. [Click on the image for a larger image]

For example, the consequences of X% attrition rate on production and consequently turnover, the consequences of a high number of days sick leave and the consequences for supply chain processes because goods cannot be moved or taken into production. By collecting and analyzing the enormous amount of data organizations have available, important insights can be provided on which the organizations can be steered, and decisions can be taken. These insights can be used by Business Partners to advise the organization. This way ‘predictive analysis’ can, for example, be used to predict how long someone will stay in one job, which is useful information for the strategic succession and workforce planning.

Unfortunately, for many organizations it is very difficult to find and use relevant data, often because it is unstructured or private. KPMG research shows that only 35% of organizations trust the various analyses in their organization and 25% even distrust them ([KPMG18]). Enabling Technology, which can structure and automate processes, can certainly help here. Especially if systems are designed as a value chain, where consecutive steps are configured in one system and workflow, connections are easily made. Additionally, enhanced process automation can obtain useful information from unstructured data.

Robotics allow for more strategic human labor

With simple Robotics, current manual processes and activities are replaced by software. When certain actions have to be performed, in exactly the same way, time and time again, in different systems this can be taken over by robots. The robot will follow a workflow, making use of existing systems and data. For example, upon receiving a request to change the cost center for an employee, the robot can copy the data from the form into the HR system, search for the home address in Google Maps and retrieve the distance to travel, enter this in the HR or Financial system, and automatically change the reimbursement. Ideally, the process is optimized before it is robotized. Basically, no other investments are necessary other than the software. Robots furthermore do not get tired or sick, work 24/7 and do not make mistakes. There are case studies showing a 55% increase of process delivery ([KPMG17-3]). By transferring work to robots, people can focus on more strategic work, such as innovative product development.


Figure 5. Different types of Robotics. [Click on the image for a larger image]

Development of Robotics is always ongoing. Next to simple robots, there are also cognitive robots that can learn from human interactions and have the ability to apply what has been learned. These self-taught robots can also learn from the large amounts of information that are often present in content management systems, such as SharePoint, intranet and internet. Cognitive robots are, for example, deployed in contact centers. A caller can ask a question in natural language which the robot can answer or ask additional questions. When an answer is not possible, the call is forwarded to a human agent. Often so fast that the caller is unaware of the change in agent. There are examples of chat bots that deliver 80% of the human productivity at 10% of the cost. Cognitive robotics can further contribute to the employee experience, because they support self-service ([KPMG17-3]). 29% of researched organizations consider implementing cognitive systems this year ([KPMG17-1]).

A successful example of how RPA can help realize organizations’ benefits

KAS BANK N.V. is a leading European provider of custodian and fund administration services to institutional investors and financial institutions. It has branches in Amsterdam, London, and Frankfurt am Main, is listed on Euronext Amsterdam, and currently has over 500 billion euro assets under administration.

KAS BANK sought to achieve an increase in the quality of its products and service offering to clients such as tailoring client solutions, reducing costs through RPA implementation, increasing regulatory reporting accuracy and compliance, transforming the bank into a more nimble, highly competitive FinTech player and by enabling staff to focus on core banking and more value-add activities.

With support from KPMG, KAS BANK initiated the supplier and tool selection. This includes the business case, RFP development and release, short-listing, evaluation and contract signing. After selection, the RPA tool was used for programming, after which RPA was implemented in sprints. The implementation was made sustainable by the establishment of a RPA Center of Excellence and training on the RPA tool and processes for team members of both the bank and the IT services partner.

KAS BANK has immediately realized the benefits of RPA:

  • transformation of transactions, back-office processes and client-facing processes via RPA; 20 processes automated to date;
  • significant workload reduction for core operating business units;
  • demonstrable increase in process and service quality through first-time-right improvement via RPA;
  • end-to-end process digitalization enablement by combining RPA with Lean process improvement, IT rationalization and workflow management;
  • RPA capability building within the own organization to decrease external dependency and agility;
  • scalable RPA capability through virtualization of the RPA servers, architecture and workforce;
  • RPA governance and RPA process documentation to enable streamlined audit approvals;
  • ability to focus on core banking activities.

Because of technology, less time and effort are needed for operational processes and this allows HR employees and Business Partners to analyze data, map employee expectations, work on innovations and advise the organization on the best course of action.

In conclusion: what needs to be done

The expectations of Millennials about their work environment, labor shortages, changed expectations of HR service delivery and of course the opportunities that robotics, enabling technology and data analytics offer, force organizations and HR in particular to adapt and prepare for the future. A future where people take center stage, because they add unique value to the organization.

People as one of the most important resources for the organization require a CHRO as a strategic partner in the Board of Management. The top three actions for this CHRO are:

1. Put HR topics high on the BoM agenda, and keep them there.

Millennials represent a large part of the labor market and organizations have to respond to their needs. Topics such as strategic workforce and succession planning, talent management and vitality need to secure the recruitment and retention of top talent as one of the most important resources for the organization, as well as keeping them healthy and happy.

2. Embrace Intelligent Automation (Enabling Technology, Robotics and Data Analytics).

Enabling Technology is vital in order to connect to other systems and sources of data, and to configure processes in the necessary way, in order to meet the employee expectations. Processes need to allow access to HR service delivery at all times, and at any location. Service delivery is quick and faultless.

Various processes which are currently executed by humans can be taken over by robots. Robots can yield enormous savings and increase productivity. By deploying robots, people can perform more strategic work and contribute to improving the employee experience.

The strategic added value of HR also comes from advising the business on which course to take, based on insights from predictive analysis. Connections between different sources of data and forecasts provide information to support steering of the organization.

3. Transform the HR function into a new model.

To meet the new expectations and offer suitable HR services, organizations can no longer hold on to the classic Ulrich model. The future of HR asks for a HR model and roles that can quickly change along with economic and technological developments and on a large scale. The KPMG boundary-less HR model describes an organization where roles are used in a multidisciplinary way, and focus on making use of all benefits Intelligent Automation offers, such as insights from Data Analytics and Enabling Technology.

The implementation of Intelligent Automation and a boundary-less HR model are radical changes in an organization. It requires a clear vision and focus for important HR topics. For that kind of transformation, the world needs a CHRO!


[Conw16] David Conway, Harnassing the power of many, KPMG Nunwood, 2016.

[DELO16] Deloitte, The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey, Deloitte, 2016.

[HARV14] Harvey Nash & KPMG, Rol van CIO verandert aanzienlijk, Harvey Nash & KPMG, 2014.

[Klas17] Terri Klass, Judy Lindenberger, Characteristics of Millenials in the workplace, Terri Klass Consulting, 2017.

[KPMG17-1] KPMG, HR Transformation: Which lens are you using?, KPMG International, 2017.

[KPMG17-2] KPMG, Disrupt and grow: CEO Outlook Survey, KPMG International, 2017.

[KPMG17-3] KPMG, Accelerating Automation: plan your faster, smoother journey, KPMG International, 2017.

[KPMG18] KPMG, Guardians of Trust: Who is responsible for trusted analytics in the digital age?, KPMG International, 2018.

[PEWR10] Pew Research Center, Millennials: a portrait of generation next, Pew Research Center, 2010.

[Ulri97] Dave Ulrich, Human Resource Champions. The next agenda for adding value and delivering results, Brighton, MA:Harvard Business Review Press, 1997.

Agile transformation of the (IT) Operating Model

To keep up with an increasingly digital world, many traditional organizations are adopting agile principles throughout their organization. While a transition to agile can certainly help organizations to stay relevant, these transformations heavily impact traditional structures and working methods.

We have learned that the road to successfully becoming agile always implies a specific journey for every organization. Reflecting on agile transformations in relation to the (IT) Operating Model uncovers lessons learned that are important to keep in mind while embarking on this journey.


Digitalization forces organizations to place flexibility and time-to-market at the core of their business model. Companies like Spotify have been doing this from the start, with the ability to quickly introduce new products and services tailored to changing consumer needs. These companies are shining examples for the more traditional players, who are struggling to respond. In order to keep up, many organizations are experimenting with agile in their (IT) Operating Model. This goes beyond applying agile IT development methods such as Scrum, but instead moves towards adopting agile principles throughout the entire organization. Embracing agile at an Enterprise level is widely believed to lead to the much-desired increase in flexibility, time-to-market and customer satisfaction ([Cull17]).

However, organizations that decided to radically change their (IT) Operating Model have proven that agile cannot be regarded as a silver bullet. The traditional world is often faced with rigid organizational structures and legacy, making it difficult to successfully implement agile at scale (see for example [Bish15]). Different frameworks are adopted (e.g. SAFe, Spotify) in various ways and at different levels in the organization, often leading to suboptimal agile transformations. What can we learn from these transformations in practice, and what are considered to be common pitfalls when trying to incorporate agility at an enterprise level?

This article shares the agile transformation stories, observations and lessons learned as experienced by KPMG at clients across a variety of industries (Telcos, Corporates, Financial Services, Public Sector). We will outline how agile is changing the (IT) Operating Model by sharing our observations related to each element within the model. We will also share our main insights regarding agile transformation pitfalls and lessons learned. These insights are a reflection of our own experiences, as well as gathered insights based on interviews with business and (IT) management.

Introducing agility in the (IT) Operating Model


Figure 1. The (IT) Operating Model incorporates all structural elements necessary to maximize the business strategy, including the added value of IT within business value streams. [Click on the image for a larger image]

A shorter time-to-market of new ideas demands a change of the (IT) Operating Model, increasing speed and flexibility. This requires new ways of collaboration between the business and IT. In the old model, the IT function is purely supportive of the business with a traditional demand-supply set-up. As we move further into the digital age, the divide between IT strategy and business strategy is fading. The introduction of agile at scale means intertwining business and IT. This implies a fundamental change of the entire operating model.

Organization & Governance

To enable a higher involvement of the business in IT development, it is essential to have the right governance and organizational structures in place. A change in roles, responsibilities and collaborations between functions also means a different focus on decision making. In an agile environment, this becomes increasingly decentralized, empowering selected domains.


  • Organizing Business and IT in value streams under the business removes impediments and constraints in handovers across silos and leads to a greater sense of shared responsibility for solutions;
  • Differing needs of business functions often result in the rise of a hybrid IT organization, frequently called ‘bi-modal’ or multi-speed ([GART16]). When increasing agility and changing the operating model, anticipate the need to govern multiple speeds and consider ways to synchronize the length of the teams’ development cycle;
  • Be aware of governance and function changes only adopted in name. We frequently see the change of existing functions to new names (e.g. the project manager becomes a ‘scrum master’). This leaves existing hierarchies and working practices in place resulting only in incremental improvements on the old instead of defining the new;
  • We frequently see the introduction of multidisciplinary teams in IT, but only limited business involvement or a product owner from IT. When these teams are not involved enough or managed by the business, the agile transformation will not reach its goal as existing old demand-supply constructs stay in place.
  • Agile requires careful board involvement. Self-steering teams require empowerment, trust and sponsorship from higher management. This sometimes conflicts with senior management need for traditional control mechanisms.

Capabilities, Services & Processes

To successfully increase the agility of the organization, new capabilities are required, and services and processes need to change. The organization must learn to focus on value through end-to-end value chains, instead of optimizing a specific activity as part of the optimization of silos. Building on Customer Journeys as a leading concept helps to drive this change and identify which products teams should focus on.

From a technology perspective (described later in this article) the organization requires a strong architecture function, driving modularity and enabling continuous delivery through automation of IT for IT. Additionally, new capabilities should be built based on agile tools and working methods. Examples are stand-ups, Kanban, visualizations, definitions of done, epics and user story definition. Many of these capabilities can be drawn from scrum and lean, but the most challenging aspect is to start scaling these practices. When scaling across more than just a few teams, organizations must adopt means to manage integrated backlogs and align teams. Frameworks such as LeSS and SAFe provide examples on how to organize these capabilities (e.g. PI meetings, integrated backlogs across areas, etc.).

A lean approach is a good starting point at a process level. Learning to identify and remove impediments in processes to enable teams to work smoothly drives agility. These impediments are frequently encountered in traditional service management processes. Organizations should be willing to change traditional service management processes when agility increases.


  • When empowering teams and actively supporting the removal of constraints, the speed at which teams adopt new practices often surprises organizations. It turns out adoption is frequently much faster than expected. This requires organizations to think about scaling from the start;
  • Service management processes are difficult to change. We see many organizations struggling with these processes. Organizations that successfully change service management, typically invest heavily in automation of IT for IT and introduce new tools to this end;
  • When impacting service management processes, compliance and security are often involved too late. When starting the agile journey, organizations should involve their security and compliance functions to help redesign processes. We frequently see these functions being involved too late, leading to resistance rather than support;
  • Projects are no longer the way of working. IT and business are integrated in one chain and therefore less complicated within teams;
  • Start learning quickly through experimenting and pilots. Learning by doing and finding constraints by experience are the best ways to pave the way for agility;
  • In the ideal world, no coordination mechanisms are required as teams self-organize and find each other in case of dependencies. However, coordination mechanisms are important when starting the transformation. We have learned that this is underestimated by most organizations. As teams grow in maturity, control mechanisms can gradually be reduced. In practice, managing functional dependencies between the agile teams is challenging and leads to additional functions, frequently resulting in the survival of the ‘project manager’ function;
  • Agile is not the holy grail for everything. Specific changes such as asset heavy (e.g. infrastructure, construction, etc.) projects with fixed deadlines still require a project management approach.

People & Skills

The behavior of people will eventually determine a successful change to agile. Agile teams require people with intrinsic motivation and the ability to work in flexible teams across the boundaries of traditional departments. Profiles that value both specialization and looking across disciplines (T-shaped profiles) are highly valued in these environments. It is important to acknowledge that working agile is not for everyone. Only teams with the proper mindset who are supportive of the new working model can make an agile transformation successful.


  • Agile can only thrive in an environment which promotes transparency and involvement. People need to have room for their own initiatives without being punished for mistakes;
  • Acknowledging and managing the difference between (technical) knowledge and competences (like collaboration skills) is important to enable successful teams;
  • New employees who were not part of the regular way of working of the organization can accelerate the agile transformation as they are often more adaptive towards new working models;
  • We see many organizations introducing agile coaches. We stress the importance to recognize the need for agile coaching on three levels: (1) coaching board level on leadership in an agile environment, which is something completely different from (2) operational and project management, and (3) team level application of scrum practices;
  • Although agile coaches must be independent from the teams and are frequently external, having champions in your organization promoting agile prove to be a great accelerator of the transformation.

Performance Management

Performance and the way we measure it has changed in the agile environment. Performance evaluation is team-based or organization-wide, instead of individual.

The measurement framework contains metrics that are data driven and real-time, and focus on value of epics and capacity instead of activities. Progress velocity becomes a key metric to show team performance and predict the extent to which epics and user stories are completed.

Budgeting is in line with agility principles and focuses on capacity, rather than trying to completely specify the outcome and assign budget accordingly. The business manages the IT budget and determines priorities within IT. In the end, this drives higher cost transparency on IT spending.


  • Involving board level management in how progress and budget exploitation remain clear and even become easier and better to govern, is essential and crucial for accepting the new way of working;
  • We frequently see organizations starting to change the performance metrics for their employees too late, resulting in discrepancies between team goals and individual performance. HR should be involved in any agile transformation from the start;
  • Organizations are experiencing difficulties to manage metrics like team velocity, instead of knowing in detail when things are finished. This requires proper understanding of concepts and effective coaching on the three aforementioned levels in the organization;
  • To actively support the change, it should remain clear who is responsible for the budget;
  • Planning and control cycles within the overall organization frequently do not fit the new structure. We see discrepancies between long cycles versus short iterative approaches.


The technology domain is essential to successfully drive and support an agile way of working; to enable teams to work in short cycles and frequently deliver value.


  • Automation and digitalization of the environment should (already be) a key attention area. We see that organizations that have successfully transformed their operating model can usually build on an environment that has been the subject of rationalization and digitalization in recent years;
  • The features and components they are working on should be small, requiring architecture to be modular and easily interconnected (e.g. micro-services, APIs). Although conceptually easy to grasp, this is very difficult to attain as it frequently requires rationalizing applications and replacing legacy, including middleware;
  • IT service management processes should be responsive and quick. Among other things, this requires the strong automation of IT for IT, and a vast focus on tools for aspects such as testing, continuous integration and continuous deployment.

Although not every business function requires the same extent of maturity in the aforementioned items, the relation between organization agility and the technological capability (continuous delivery) is shown in Figure 2.


Figure 2. Agility requires balance between technology and organization. [Click on the image for a larger image]


  • The need to digitalize the organization and modularize architecture is frequently overlooked. Organizations quickly build agile capabilities in their teams, but are subsequently bound to quarterly release cycles and manual activities proving constraints on their speed;
  • From an architecture point of view there is no one-size-fits all model. Depending on the length of the development cycle that the team works in, and the speed at which the release of value is required in the business, architecture should be adopted accordingly. Although frequently positioned as the holy grail, we do not regard an architecture completely based on micro-services to be the most suited end-goal for all organizations;
  • We observe a strong focus on test automation, which is usually regarded as a no-regret move. However, testing is only one element of continuous delivery, and sufficient focus should also go to continuous build, integration and deployment;
  • Adoption of the cloud, especially on an infrastructure level, provides the required flexibility. However, we see organizations moving to the cloud without clear business cases, or acting on the assumption that the cloud is always the economically most sensible route. Although cloud is a strong driver for agility, we urge organizations to build a sound strategy on the cloud, not only driven by economic factors.


A transformation to agile also implies an assessment of your supplier relations and capabilities: how can they help to stimulate your agile transformation, or where are constraints that need to be dealt with? Likewise, the internal skills to collaborate effectively in agile partnerships need to be assessed, and the manner in which the supplier is part of integrated chains should be designed and implemented.


  • It is important to look at current supplier contracts for constraints and impediments to your agile journey. We see that organizations are usually afraid of opening up contracts and changing the manner in which the cooperation is shaped. However, organizations that do engage on this journey proactively prevent complexity at a later stage, and typically state that this change is key to their agile transformation;
  • We see the rise of multisourcing models with increasingly fluid relations between the business and suppliers. Although this allows for flexibility in adding and removing suppliers from the ecosystem, it is frequently challenging for IT to guarantee quality and continuity, and difficult to manage the supplier base. Sufficient attention on how to organize supplier management in an agile environment is important to prevent ‘supplier spaghetti’;
  • Not only technology partners need to be assessed, partners are also required to strengthen agile organizational skills;
  • For example, we see organizations leaving their culture and leadership programs unchanged, while engaging agile coaches, and implementing training programs such as SAFe, and business scrum. This easily leads to discrepancies.

High quality agile coaching, based on consistent approaches, is the key to success. Agile coaches should be independent from operations, and therefore acquiring external agile coaching is a logical choice we continuously see in the market.

Lessons learned

1. Clearly set your ambition and create a compelling vision

In line with market views, KPMG recognizes various levels of agile maturity and ambition. This ranges from agile at IT to scaling towards business functions and agile at the enterprise level. Not every organization will be completely digital, requiring agility at the enterprise level. We urge organizations to set a clear agile ambition at the start of their journey and clearly articulate their vision and mission based on an understanding of their current position.


Figure 3. Agile maturity and ambition levels. [Click on the image for a larger image]

2. Choose a fitting transformation approach

Unfortunately, there is not one approach guaranteeing a successful agile transformation. The right approach is (among others) dependent on the organizational context, maturity level and ambition of the agile transformation.

The approach is based on clear choices, that jointly determine the agile transformation journey. For instance, a big bang approach is the best option in case of a relatively high urgency, or when an elaborate cultural shift is desired and top management is completely on board. When only certain business domains are within the scope of the transformation and when aiming for a gradual increase, an incremental approach is better suited.


Figure 4. Agile transformation choices. [Click on the image for a larger image]

Where bottom-up approaches are often a catalyst for change, driven by (peer to peer) agile enthusiasm, DevOps and continuous delivery, a focus on a top-down approach becomes essential when introducing agile at scale.

3. Experiment and learn by doing


Any agile journey starts with experiments and pilots. Following agile principles, the best way to learn a new capability is through experience and failing fast.

Learning by doing makes this model work. It’s not just another way of working, but also another way of delivering results. Starting in one part of the business by experimenting can be helpful to understand the new way of working, but this should all be based on a clear enterprise wide defined vision.

By having pilots in the organization and experimenting with the challenges in each domain of the operating model, the constraints become visible. These are key input and determinants for the agile journey.


Figure 5. KPMG view on a typical agile journey – start with experimenting. [Click on the image for a larger image]

4. Commitment of Senior Management

A transition to agile can be driven by the strength and enthusiasm of employees in teams and their management. However, when the transition starts to require scaling into larger initiatives (projects or programs) or into business functions, support from senior management is required. This is not only valid for IT (where initiatives frequently start), but especially within the business. The business needs to increase responsibility for IT, budget and priorities. Also, the required change in culture, performance management and governance structures can only be driven by strong business leadership.

Self-steering teams require empowerment, trust and sponsorship from higher management. Promote the autonomy of co-workers and let them take responsibility for their work and delivered outcomes. Nevertheless, there must be a clear and concrete agreement on targets, results and new methods to stay in control.

Lack of management commitment to change to a new working environment will lead to half implemented solutions and processes resulting in frustrated co-workers. In our experience, agile transformation really starts to gain traction at the moment senior business stakeholders start to embrace the concepts and drive the transformation across the boundaries of IT.

5. Place sufficient attention on architecture

The journey to agile can provides a challenge for the architecture function. From a function perspective, architects used to be part of larger change initiatives and build upon bigger designs. The transition to agile requires architects to divide their attention among many different teams with potentially differing missions. As such, architects will need to connect with or be organized close to those teams.

From a principle perspective, architecture remains crucial to prevent agility, leading the organization into complexity and chaos. Standards are required to provide boundaries and ensure consistency in the overall technology landscape. As such we have seen the architecture function becoming more important, reporting directly to the board to govern teams in an agile environment.

Working in self-steering, autonomous and multidisciplinary teams within boundaries set by Enterprise Architecture requires communication and determination of group-wide policies and standards on architecture, focusing on:

  • Development of standards and procedures to drive architectural integrity and simplicity. Ignoring technical debt may be helping the business to launch the necessary applications in the short term, but will in the long run lead to additional costs for maintenance and support, eventually reducing flexibility.
  • Drive modularity and far stretched automation of IT for IT, to enable autonomous teams.
  • Stimulation of interoperability, connectivity and sharing of resources. A strategy and centrally governed platform for code revision control exists to allow scaling across functions and combine development capabilities.
6. Take responsibility and clearly define roles


Ensuring enough autonomy for co-workers is key. Besides giving them their own responsibility, it is necessary for them to take ownership.

An unclear definition of roles and responsibilities usually ends in frustration and uncertainties. The poorly defined role of the Product Owner is exemplary for this.

Successful adoption of agility frequently goes hand in hand with a strong simplification of functions to provide clarity. We have seen implementations where the number of IT roles alone was reduced from over 60 to under 10.

7. Change competences and behavior

Changing existing processes and standard procedures is difficult. Working in an agile organization requires T-shaped profiles, where co-workers are obligated to work outside their job description. Teams formed around a common goal might motivate people to step outside their usual boundaries. Transition to an agile environment requires other profiles than the existing ones. Holding on to old habits will lead to suboptimal results, e.g. ‘scrumfall’, instead of agile working.


Figure 6. Processes and behavior in the classical or digital world. [Click on the image for a larger image]

8. Choose a framework, any framework or a combination of frameworks. In any case, make a clear choice and remain consistent

The transition to agile requires a renewed look at the operating model of which various aspects were discussed in this article. Various frameworks exist that can help in understanding how to organize for agility and scaling, and which roles and functions to create. In practice we see that various frameworks are in use, and organizations frequently combine elements of methods and frameworks that best suit their organization. Make a clear choice among frameworks and how they relate, in order to prevent overlap. Also, avoid flooding the organization with new terms and ensure consistency of agile terminology and concepts during the transformation.


Figure 7. Agile and lean frameworks and methods – inspired by ‘Agile PMG’ by Miroslaw Dabrowski, 2015. Expanded based on KPMG insights and market analysis ([Dabr15]). [Click on the image for a larger image]


A transition to agile helps organizations to stay relevant in our increasingly digital world. Current structures and the traditional role of IT simply do not meet changing business requirements, focusing on flexibility and time to market. However, realizing the benefits of agile and successfully transforming the (IT) Operating Model is not without its challenges.

The road to becoming agile is not clearly laid out, and implies a specific journey for every organization. Throughout this article, we have shared important attention areas of this journey by taking the (IT) Operating Model as a leading perspective. The impact of agile on all of the elements within the model provides structure to the agile transformation, and can help guide decision making. The sequencing and prioritization of activities remain dependent on specific contexts. When helping organizations with their agile journey, it is our aim to guide the most important transformation decisions, while always allowing enough space and flexibility to adapt and learn.

In any case, the urgency to change and impact on the structural elements mentioned in this article are high. Therefore, organizations are forced to act fast and change in the right direction. Making smart choices when transforming the (IT) Operating Model is essential to achieve and maintain business results. Changing to a new model cannot be realized overnight. Transformation usually starts small with experiments and pilots in the appropriate business functions. Successfully expanding the transformation should be the gradual result of a responsive, learning organization, willing to break with traditional structures and provide empowerment and trust to its employees.


[Bish15] Matt Bishop, Bob Hayward, Lisa Heneghan, Marc Snyder, Glenn Tjon, Moving agility to the CIO agenda, KPMG, 2015.

[Cull17] Stuart Cullum, Howard Bagg, Deven Trivedy, Achieving Greater Agility, the vital role of culture and commitment, KPMG, 2017.

[Dabr15] Miroslaw Dabrowski, DSDM Agile PF – Agile Project Framework – Foundation,,, 2015.

[GART16] Gartner, Bimodal IT, Gartner IT Glossary,, 2016.

Shared ledgers

Your favorite jeans or T-shirt in your closet at home were not made at one location. Each item in your wardrobe has gone through the hands of farmers, ginners, spinners and fabric mills before it ended up in a shop or was delivered at your door. You may not know what transactions took place to produce your T-shirt. Until recently, many of the actors in the cotton supply chain did not oversee the layers in the chain either. This is now changing. Shared ledgers have a crucial role in facilitating the flow of information between buyers and suppliers. What does blockchain add to this development?


The jeans and T-shirts in your closet at home were not made at one location. Each item in your wardrobe has gone through the hands of farmers, ginners, spinners and fabric mills before it was sold in a shop or was delivered at your door. You may not know what transactions took place to produce your T-shirt. Until recently, many of the actors in the cotton supply chain did not oversee the layers in the chain either. As this article will show, more information is now shared between supply chain actors than before. Sharing information means improving transparency. Shared ledgers play a crucial role in facilitating the flow of information between buyers and suppliers.

The role of distributed ledgers in supply chains

Blockchains (also known as ‘distributed ledgers’ (DLs)) are expected to have a transformative effect on the core functions of the financial industry. However, in supply chains the predicted role of DLs lies in improving processes that are more ancillary. A ‘shared’ ledger (such as DLs) can help address inefficiencies related to information asymmetry ([Blec16]), which were previously more difficult to address. For example, in commoditized agri-food supply chains, end-users often have difficulties in tracing the origin of products back to the producer. By collating data at a supply chain level, while maintaining the data at the most granular level (e.g. at a farm-level), a shared, digital ledger can help to solve this issue. Some observers expect blockchain to facilitate origin tracking ([EMCO17]) and the identification of counterfeit products ([Hack17]).

An example of a blockchain-like solution: private federated ledgers

Before the world got to know the term ‘blockchain’ for the first time, tooling to improve transparency in supply chains was already being developed by industry pioneers and implemented by early adopters. The exhibit below outlines a case-study about ChainPoint, a provider of a cloud-based software platform to manage and share product, process and supplier information. Their collaboration with the Better Cotton Initiative resulted in a solution that can be classified as a ‘private federated ledger’ (PFL).

A private federated ledger (PFL) is a shared ledger that is governed centrally. It is ‘private’ because the information it holds is not publicly available. Users can enter data directly or push data through an API to the central database. Every buyer and seller in the supply chain submits transactional data using the same data model. The use of an API and pre-defined data model minimizes the administrative workload for participants.

Using a PFL, buyers can retrieve product information from suppliers without having access to data about competitors or about others than their direct suppliers. PFL is not a blockchain; it lacks some of the five key characteristics that qualify a blockchain (the five basic principles of blockchain: distributed database, peer-to-peer transmission, transparency with pseudonymity, irreversibility of records and computational logic) ([Ians17]). However, a PFL resolves the specific issue of traceability in a way that is similar to what would have been achieved using blockchain.

Better Cotton Initiative

The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), founded in 2009 and initiated by organizations including Adidas, H&M, IKEA, Oxfam and WWF, aims to improve the livelihoods and economic resilience of farmers and their communities in cotton producing areas and reduce the environmental impact of cotton production.

To reach this goal, BCI defines what a better, more sustainable way of growing cotton looks like, and, through a network of partners, it trains and supports farmers to implement the corresponding principles. In the 2015-2016 season, 12% of all cotton produced worldwide was Better Cotton. This share of the global cotton supply was produced by 1.5 million licensed BCI farmers.

The figure below shows a typical supply chain for Better Cotton. Farmers bring their yield to a cotton gin, where cotton fibers are separated from their seeds and then processed into cotton bales. These bales are traded or directly sold to spinners that in turn supply fabric mills with yarn. The fabric is sold and further processed into consumer products, like clothes, which are then delivered to retailers.

To make certain that retailers and brands can be confident when making claims about Better Cotton, BCI engaged ChainPoint to build the Better Cotton Tracer. This Tracer tracks the volume of licensed cotton orders between suppliers and manufacturers1 ([CHAP17]), and serves as a reporting and documentation tool. The Tracer ensures for example that a trader cannot sell more Better Cotton to yarn spinners or other traders than he himself has acquired from Better Cotton ginners or traders.


Figure 1. The Better Cotton Tracer enables traceability of cotton by linking each step in the Cotton Supply Chain.

ChainPoint enables consumers to retrieve product information by scanning a bar-code with a mobile phone, while it also enables the insertion of data through mobile technology at the farm level. By integrating these technologies in one platform, ChainPoint offers an end-to-end solution that can provide transparency and traceability on the level of granularity required by end-users.

Where needed, ChainPoint can integrate with supply chain functions where distributed ledgers have been integrated, such as financing, food safety or document management.

Blockchain vs. private federated ledgers

Even though private federated ledgers (PFLs) existed long before blockchain was invented, there are several reasons to opt for a PFL over a DL. In comparison to DL, the advantages of a PFL are simplicity, the central governance structure and the maturity of the technology.

Blockchain is based on a form of decision making by consensus. This requires supply chain actors to release control in the governance of the digital ecosystem around their supply chain. In contrast, a central governing body can enable more swift decision making. In fact, many of the current Proofs-of-Concept (POCs) of blockchain in supply chains, are based on a more central governing authority ([Popp17]). For example, IBM’s Hyperledger is positioned as a solution that enables a central governing body to maintain control. The preference to maintain control by major companies operating in agri-food supply chains, can also lead to the choice for a PFL over a DL.

In comparison to blockchain, PFLs are a proven solution that has been rolled out in many supply chains with the agreement of supply chain actors. A survey amongst logistics providers (n=152) found that around 60% of the participants with implementation experience indicate that the need for a high level of collaboration and commitment might be a barrier for blockchain adoption in their supply chain, followed by 49% of the participants who see the maturity of blockchain technology and lack of industry acceptance as a hurdle for adoption ([Hack17]). A PFL does not face these levels of skepticism and might be accepted earlier by industry actors as a proven concept.

Does this mean that DL does not bring anything new to supply chains? In fact, it certainly does. While this article focuses on transparency in the agri-food supply chain, the case for application of DLs in other application areas is more convincing. Using the five principles identified by Iansiti and Lakhani [Ians17], the element of immutability is essential. The same study cited earlier [Hack17] found that logistics specialists see two cases where DL has the highest likelihood of implementation and would be most beneficial: 1) to simplify paperwork processing in ocean freight and 2) the Internet of Things (IoT). For example, by ensuring a Bill of Lading is delivered unaltered to the next step in the chain, or by recording the temperature measured by sensors in a cold chain. A clear case for DL exists in these applications.

More data will flow through supply chains in the future: a case for shared ledgers

Will the interest in blockchain-like solutions vanish like so many hypes do? It might not. Looking forward, several trends may lead to a continued interest in shared ledgers, including PFLs and DLs.

First, KPMG’s annual Top of Mind Survey amongst 500+ executives in the consumer goods sector shows that while today one third of companies have an integrated supply chain, more than half plan to have reached full integration by 2019 ([KPMG17]). An ‘integrated’ supply chain is a chain where there is coordination and information sharing between suppliers and manufacturers about materials, logistics, information and finances. Once large players, such as Maersk ([OCEI17]), Walmart ([Aitk17]) and financial service providers operating in the agri-field, start to implement blockchain-like solutions on a larger scale, the trend towards integrated supply chains might accelerate.

Secondly, the efficiencies to be gained by simplifying the paperwork of freight and the growth of the IoT will continue to drive interest and innovation.

A third reason why interest in shared ledgers will persist, is competition. Traceable products have been an important niche for market entrants in food and agricultural markets, where on average 15% of consumer expenditures are in product segments that have a ‘responsible product’ claim ([Smit14]). A PFL can help companies to back up responsible product claims with supplier approved data.

These developments imply that more and more data will flow through supply chains from end-user to supplier and vice-versa. Large players, such as FMCG companies or intermediaries, may consider launching PFLs to maximize the network effects gained by a supply chain-wide implementation ([EMCO17]). Where needed, PFLs could integrate with relevant blockchains.


In the agri-food supply chain, shared ledgers such as PFLs and DLs, have clear advantages in the areas of origin tracking, traceability and the identification of counterfeit products. ChainPoint, a private federated ledger, is one example of a service provider helping to address traceability and transparency issues in, amongst others, the cotton supply chain. In this article, we have tried to show how the role foreseen for blockchain in supply chains can be fulfilled by alternative technologies. Nonetheless, the vibe around blockchain might help to break through previously existing barriers in supply chain collaboration. A fresh perspective on long-existing supply chain challenges is already leading to new and promising alliances.


  1.  BCI uses a Mass Balance Chain of Custody to identify how BCI farmers are linked to end-users.


[Aitk17] Roger Aitken, IBM Forges Blockchain Collaboration With Nestlé & Walmart In Global Food Safety,,, 2017.

[Blec16] Burkhard Blechschmidt, Carsten Stöcker, How Blockchain Can Slash the Manufacturing’Trust Tax’, Cognizant, 2016.

[CHAP17] ChainPoint, Chain of Custody models,,, 2017.

[EMCO17] EM Compas, Beyond Fintech: Leveraging Blockchain for More Sustainable and Inclusive Supply Chains, International Finance Corporation, 2017.

[Hack17] Niels Hackius, Moritz Petersen, Blockchain in Logistics and Supply Chain: Trick or Treat?, Proceedings of the Hamburg International Conference of Logistics, 2017.

[Ians17] M. Iansiti, K.R. Lakhani, The Truth About Blockchain, Harvard Business Review, 2017.

[KPMG17] KPMG, Think like a start-up. How to grow in a disruptive market, KPMG Top of Mind Survey 2017,, 2017.

[OCEI17] Ocean Insights, Maersk and IBM present new supply chain solution on blockchain,,, 2017.

[Popp17] Nathaniel Popper, Steve Lohr, Blockchain: A Better Way to Track Pork Chops, Bonds, Bad Peanut Butter?, The New York Times,, 4 March 2017.

[Smit14] Marty Smits, Dan Wald, Diederik Vismans, Emmanuel Huet, An Imperative for Consumer Companies to Go Green. When Social Responsibility Leads to Growth,,, 2014.

Blockchain: complacency is unaffordable

Blockchain as the new infrastructure standard is argued to be a sure thing. Compact interviewed Jeroen van Oerle, portfolio manager at Robeco, to discuss his view of this future and to find out more about the blockchain and its advantages and obstacles.


A desk in the average office of forty years ago looked completely different than it does today. Space was needed to make room for all the tools and information required to be able to do your job. Nowadays, having a full and unorganized desk is unnecessary. The turning point came a few decades ago; stacks of paper, calculators, pens and pencils, notepads, and the agenda were replaced by just a computer and a mobile phone (see Figure 1 on the IT evolution). Excel was released by Microsoft in 1985 and made most of the physical administration tools redundant. Organizing and sharing your work became easier. However, efficiency and security of administration have not yet reached their optimal state.

The next step in the evolution of the desk is unlikely to be so visible. Nevertheless, its impact could penetrate even deeper into our everyday work and private lives. The blockchain is expected to bring this disruption and has been a hot topic for some years. It is interesting to now know what are the key advantages and obstacles that need to be taken into account.

Compact spoke to Jeroen van Oerle at the Robeco office in Rotterdam. Jeroen is currently a trends analyst within Robeco’s trends investing team, focusing on innovation in the financial sector.

In addition, he is the portfolio manager of the recently launched Robeco Fintech Fund. Robeco has already been investing in fintech for six years via their New World Financials portfolio, in which the subtrend represents approximately 38 percent. But with the launch of the fintech fund, this theme has become a focused strategy.

What are the current top concerns in the asset management or finance domain?

The Robeco trends investing approach uses a framework that identifies three main drivers of change: technological change, social change, and regulatory change. The first of these offers the most investment opportunities.

The main challenge in the asset management industry is that on the one hand fees are coming down, and on the other hand costs are going up. Operational, regulatory and back office operations costs are increasing, and these cannot be passed on to customers. This squeeze on margins forces companies to invest in technology from an efficiency perspective. Along with this, investments are required to prepare for trends, such as the movement from defined benefits to defined contributions in pensions, and from institutional to retail customers.

Consequently, where small asset management firms can specialize in order to survive, and larger firms can diversify to deal with higher costs, the asset managers of medium-sized companies are stuck in the middle, being forced to choose or lose; become a boutique or consolidate to increase scale.

Moreover, once robo-advice becomes bigger it will create opportunities for specialized IT companies that do not necessarily have the financial expertise themselves. Since being able in due time to compete against large tech companies is certainly not unimaginable, the technology you are working with should be as optimal as possible. These companies have all the technology at their disposal and are extremely customer focused. Note that, despite their lack of financial expertise, we see tech companies, such as Apple, Samsung and WhatsApp, joining the financial domain market by introducing payment systems and they could expand this line of work even further in the future, for example, to asset management.

Where can blockchain play a role to address these concerns?

The margin squeeze in asset management requires more efficient operations. Blockchain is a new way of administration. This started with pen and paper, was followed by automation and will in the future be potentially revolutionized by blockchain, or more generally speaking Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT).

DLT creates efficiency gains on the one hand by pushing down customer onboarding costs and time by providing documentation at a cheaper and faster level. On the other hand, it increases efficiency in back-office operations. For example, the post-trade process currently takes two to three days, while DLT can reduce this to two hours at lower costs. At Robeco, we verified this in an implementation-only proof of concept, meaning that we kept all parties of the value chain in the system, but replaced the processes with distributed ledger technology. Time savings result from all parties working from one dataset, which is available to all participants. The reduction in costs can be explained by the fact that reconciliation is the most expensive activity. With the blockchain you eliminate reconciliation as you create certain documentation only once, as it is already registered within the system. In a DLT ecosystem everyone works from the same ledger, which is the single truth. A lot of information is readily available, saving time and costs.

Additionally, real-time settlement reduces counterparty risk, because we have real-time prices, real-time assets, and-real time cash.

Apart from cost considerations, an important advantage of distributed ledger technology is the higher level of security it offers. In the case of a centralized ledger, cyber criminals focus on one target, increasing the chance of a breach. Furthermore, a blockchain does allow confidentiality, because not all members need to see every piece of information in a transaction. In our opinion, the private chain is the future, not the public chains underlying cryptocurrencies such as the Bitcoin.

You do see that the industry is currently moving away from bilateral clearing between individual parties towards centralized clearing. However, this is because the former is too expensive given the current technological standard. DLT could revert this trend.

What is the disruption due to BC? How will the current roles within the chain change?

Current regulation will not allow that all parties in between the buyer and a seller within a transaction will be cutout when implementing the DLT system. In the current design, the value chain remains intact, but you can question whether this will remain the case in the long run. The need for a party assuring a consistent standard remains and will always be a cost-benefit analysis. However, the parties that are involved will definitely see a change in their business model.

As an example, take the profession of the accountant. I expect the Administrative Accountant (AA) to disappear from the financial industry. Within a couple of years’ time, when the job becomes automated, there will be less need for manually constructed ledgers. This is likely as with DLT we will already be working from one book of truth and because it is very easy to design an automated program that simply puts the right amounts into the right ledger accounts (this is done via so called smart contracts; see Figure 2 on smart contracts).

The Register Accountant (RA), on the other hand, is going to become far more important. However, they will have to retrain in order to read smart contracts and read algorithmic outputs, instead of regular numbers.

An example closer to the asset management industry would be the change in the methodology of calculating the asset value of a particular portfolio. Because you have the assets and the price in real time, you can basically calculate a real-time NAV. This is currently very expensive. However, in the DLT design it is natural that all the data is freely and automatically available.

Because you have the real-time NAV, it is very likely that the settlement process of mutual funds as we currently know it will change and become more aligned to that of exchange traded funds.


Figure 1. IT evolution.

What are the top challenges to adopt blockchain?

First, you have to differentiate within the financial industry. Due to high cost considerations, banks are definitely ahead and will probably implement DLT first. Insurance funds will follow, using the design for fraud reduction. And finally, waking up from his very long winter sleep, the asset manager will come next.

Preparing for the future requires vision. Especially in an industry where margins are under pressure. The problem is that you do not know upfront where the gains are in terms of time and costs. This could result in a situation where asset managers pay the same fees we are paying today, while the service side already has a new design and can do it for a tenth of the price. However, to sit and wait is also very dangerous, because then the design is completely out of your hands and will be done by the ones you will rely on in the future. As an asset manager you want and need to be involved from the start.

There are three major issues that are most responsible for the restriction of wide scale adoption. The first is regulation, as it is not yet legal to have all your documentation on a DLT and in the process of a DLT. The second is the technological standard. It is not efficient to work with multiple chains, but it is not yet clear what the standard will be. The third is the absence of a network effect: the value of a network grows exponentially with the number of users and a strong network effect is required to solve the first two challenges.

Asset managers are not yet cooperating on a wide scale to create this opportunity. Whereas banks and insurance companies are used to working together, asset managers do not need to work together in this world. However, DLT asset managers must do so in order to achieve the needed efficiency.

I think the opportunity within the asset management space will be picked up by the service providers. They can provide a platform which both the sell and the buy side can connect to, fueling a large efficiency gain for those involved at an early stage.


Figure 2. Smart Contracts.

Where will we be in three years from now?

We are now in the proof of concept phase and we see banks are moving into the initial setup phase. We are not yet there for asset management, but in three years’ time we possibly will be. I think it will then proliferate in such a way that a very specific asset class will be led to onboarding first. This class will most likely lie within the fixed income segment, because it is very labor intensive, sometimes complex and low volume, so when you can create a DLT that services this asset class, it will already provide benefits. And from there, depending on the results of that specific asset class, the onboarding will continue for other asset classes and will eventually encompass the whole asset management market. Naturally, this process will take time.

Autonomous driving cars are key for mobility in 2030

Due to mind-blowing technological developments in the automotive industry and changes in customer behaviour, mobility in 2030 will be dramatically different. The autonomous driving car enables highly optimised transportation and asset utilisation. Autonomous driving depends on decision making without human intervention, which is made possible by algorithms and Artificial Intelligence (AI). These algorithms and AI enable direct and automated access to mobility platforms for logistic planning and real time interaction with objects and vehicles. As a result, new business models will arise and fulfil new and sometimes untapped customer needs. The how we move is more and more facilitated by algorithms, based on our previous or expected behavior, external triggers and/or events. The actual working of these algorithms should not be a black box and therefore assurance on algorithms will be an item of interest in the coming years.


The automotive industry is at the forefront of a radical digital transformation. The introduction of digital technologies impacts the industry in many different ways. Three forces will fundamentally transform how we move people and goods in the future, as can be seen in Figure 1 below.

  • Firstly, electrification: basically all conventional power sources will be replaced by electric powertrain technologies that will enable sustainable transport with zero emissions. Battery capacity will rapidly become more affordable and various alternatives for the conventional lithium-ion batteries are being introduced.
  • Secondly, the rise of ‘mobility-as-a-solution‘ services that includes the mind shift from ‘ownership’ to ‘usage’ of the car. Platform-based business models are optimising underutilisation amongst car owners, connecting the various forms of transport and offering a one-stop-shopping concept.
  • Thirdly, and most importantly, is the technological breakthrough of autonomous driving cars. Currently, many new car models are being introduced with these new driving features. Initially, incorporated into Advanced Driver Assistance Systems that provide ‘autopilot’ functionalities, but eventually with an increasing level of autonomy.


Figure 1. Overview of mobility ecosystem changes ([KPMGUK17]).

The future mobility ecosystem is very different

The mobility ecosystem will look very different in the future, but why? The current ‘one-car-one user’ is very inefficient and costly as most of the time a car is not used. The total fleet of passenger cars in the Netherlands consists of approximately 8,3 million vehicles ([BOVA17]). Most of them (approximately 95% according to [Morr16] sit idle each day and are parked. People spend a lot of their time in traffic jams ([ANWB17]). The increasing urbanisation will increase the time spent in traffic. In addition, the current TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) for cars is an important component of the total household budget. In summary, the current one-car-one-user model results in underutilised assets. Therefore, the current model makes the car an expensive form of transportation.

The autonomous vehicle (AV) might be the main reason that the ownership model will shift from one-car-one-user to one-car-multiple-users. These new user communities do not care who owns the car, but see the transportation from A to B as a service. Therefore, the current car ownership model will evolve to a ‘mobility-as-a-service’ model. Mobility subscriptions to car share schemes provide consumers with more convenience, clear costs and fixed rates and kilometre packages. In addition, it solves looking for a parking place in front of your house in a fully congested city! As a driving licence might no longer be needed for these new vehicles, the number of potential users is almost unlimited. New user groups are being tapped. People who were not able to use a car for transportation, now have the opportunity to use autonomous cars as a passenger as they do not need to be able to drive the car itself. Therefore, the growth of travelled kilometres per person will primarily take place in the 0-30 years old segment and the 50 and older segment ([KPMGUK17]). The AV will provide more independence for these segments. However, as these new solutions require high volumes of users and a large infrastructure (assets, technology, connectivity and data analytics), a consolidation of mobility service providers is likely. Service aggregators are a single point of contact for consumers that provide the solution to integrate the required components for autonomous driving. In summary, the autonomous car will enable:

  • lower costs per kilometre (no driver costs, new energy sources, benefits from economies of scale and longer vehicle lifetime);
  • more efficiently used vehicles (up to five times the number of kilometres compared to human operated cars);
  • tapping new markets with potential users who previously did not own a car, or were not able to use a car for transportation;
  • major ecosystems to consolidate (therefore reduce in number) and the type of ecosystem player will change as new industries are entering the market.
Autonomous driving will reinvent the value chain, new platform based business models will be introduced

Next to a transportation object, the autonomous car is also more and more a platform that enables extra digital revenues, which will become a very important source of income for the automotive industry. In the Global Automotive Executive Survey of 2017 [KPMG17], 85 percent of the nearly thousand car executives from 42 countries surveyed were convinced that their company will realize a higher turnover through a digital ecosystem (up to ten times). In this ecosystem, payments might become a very important new activity to enable automated interactions between cars and objects, for example to pay for charging the battery at a public charging point. To be successful, companies in the mobility industry will change. Platform organisations are the ones that will actually change the automotive industry. These organisations are mainly driven by data and algorithms. As can be seen in Figure 2 below, the rules of the game for platform business models are significantly different.


Figure 2. How to be successful with platform business models ([KPMGNL17-1], [Alst16], [Chou15], [Evan16], [Tiwa13]).

The autonomous driving car is coming, developments are accelerating

Although we are still talking in the future tense, the technology is already available. Start-ups, for instance, increasingly compete to mass-produce next-gen radar and LiDAR systems (3D road images) to enable autonomous driving. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) are introducing these new technologies in their products, as can be seen in Figure 3 below. Many services have been launched and/or are gradually becoming available. Some of the ‘flagship events’ we have listed, indicate a continuous and accelerating introduction of developments with respect to autonomous driving. The autonomous driving car is increasingly becoming mature, and the industry is very active. In short, in 2017:

  • Ford acquired dynamic-shuttle firm Chariot (a mobility integrator);
  • General Motors acquired Sidecar (sharing a ride as a new transportation service);
  • Volkswagen invested in cab-hailing start-up Gett (on demand mobility as counterpart to taxi app Uber);
  • Europcar acquired car-sharing start-up Bluemove (car sharing and hourly rental service);
  • GM bought Cruise Automation (autonomous driving tech firm);
  • Ford acquired Pivotal, a data analytics company to gain valuable customer insights;
  • Waymo, the former Google self-driving car project in 2009, is ready for the next phase: their driverless transport services will soon be introduced to the public;
  • Audi introduced their first production car (the new A8) with level-3 autonomous driving functionality in September 2017.


Figure 3. KPMG UK Mobility 2030 Scenario Analysis – Stretch Case ([KPMGUK17]).

Fully accelerating, or do we anticipate short circuits and power outages?

As depicted above, technology developments are accelerating, and car manufacturers design new computers and algorithms at an increasing pace. But are we pushing this, or do we really understand what customers really value? Do we have the right skill set to integrate/aggregate other ecosystem elements? If all technology is readily available, what is limiting the speed of developments?

  • change of regulations (approval from European and national level to drive autonomously);
  • new insurance models (shift of accountability from driver to car);
  • privacy regulations (possibly limit the transfer of data and usage of data by platforms to offer personalised services);
  • service integrators and providers that take full responsibility for the whole value chain;
  • the roll out of 5G mobile connection technology (specifically the required short latency times) that enables communication between vehicles;
  • smart infrastructure with digital traffic beacons and road signs (to avoid misinterpretations of the algorithms);
  • local area networks standard (cross brand communication);
  • customer adaption.

The autonomous car must be a ‘good robot’

In autonomous cars, the importance of algorithms and the way of checking these ‘digital brains’ should not be underestimated. As often the possibilities are endless, but do we still understand the choices that are made by technology?

We have seen an increasing number of applications where humans depend on algorithms. The autonomous car has to make ethical decisions, based on algorithms that have been developed by IT specialists. How do we know the car makes the right decision?

As we already explained in our report The connected car is here to stay [KPMGNL17-2], these topics will be increasingly important for safeguarding consumer trust. An example is the working of a navigation system. To guide the driver from A to B, it is essential that the system meets the following conditions:

  • the quality of the data needs to be good;
  • the algorithm, basically the instructions given, must be correct;
  • the route advice should serve the interests of the driver; it should be an independent advice of course, it should not be the case that the algorithm has a preference for a route along a particular brand of fuel stations or shopping centres.


Autonomous driving is reinventing the value chain and new platform based business models will be increasingly introduced. Next to a transportation object, the autonomous car is also more and more a platform that enables extra digital revenues, which will become a very important source of income for the automotive industry. However, the importance of the algorithms and the way of checking these ‘digital brains’ should not be underestimated.

Although accountants primarily evaluate financial statements and annual reports, the accountancy sector can certainly play a key role in this game. Assurance by accountants has been a proven method in business to provide confidence and trust to users. Accountants have the capabilities to provide ‘assurance of systems’ about the accuracy of the processes and algorithms. This requires a considerable investment in a rapidly changing market. However, public trust in this modern digital society should be handled with care, as this trust could very well be the bottleneck for a quick adoption of the autonomous driving vehicle. Might this public trust be key for a fast, digital transformation to the new mobility ecosystem?

The Netherlands is ready for the autonomous vehicle

The Dutch ecosystem for the autonomous vehicle is ready. The intensively used Dutch roads are very well developed and maintained. Many different large road construction projects have been finished during recent years ([RIJK17-1]). Other indicators, like the telecom infrastructure, are also very strong, as can be seen in the yearly OpenSignal top 10 for 4G coverage footprint [OPSI17], in which the Netherlands holds a high position.

In addition, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure has opened the public roads to large-scale tests with self-driving passenger cars and lorries. Since 2015, the Dutch rules and regulations have been amended to allow large-scale road tests ([RTL17], [TNO17]).

In collaboration with the federal road authority (Rijkswaterstaat), and the ministry of Infrastructure, the federal vehicle authority (RDW) has the option of issuing an exemption for self-driving vehicles ([RIJK17-2]). Companies that wish to test self-driving vehicles must first demonstrate that the tests will be conducted in a safe manner. To that end, they need to submit an application for admission.

Public/private partnership do further accelerate the development of automotive expertise and innovation capacity. Strong examples are the Automotive High Tech Campus in the Eindhoven area and the connected TU Eindhoven university ([TUEI17]), which has a specific Smart Mobility faculty. Start-ups such as Amber Mobility ([TECR17]) are challenging existing parties and are broadening existing beliefs and behaviours.


[Alst16] M.W. Alstyne, S.P. Choudary, G.G. Parker, Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy and How to Make Them Work for You, W.W. Norton & Co., 2016.

[ANWB17] ANWB, Filegroei zet door in 2016,,, 2017.

[BOVA17] BOVAG, Mobiliteit in cijfers,,, 2017.

[Chou15] S.P. Choudary, Platform Scale: How an emerging business model helps start-ups build large empires with minimum investment, Platform Thinking Labs, 2015.

[Evan16] R.S. Evans, R. Schmalensee, Matchmakers: The New Economics of Multisided Platforms, Harvard Business Review Press, 2016.

[KPMG17] KPMG, Global Automotive Executive Survey, KPMG, 2017.

[KPMGNL17-1] KPMG NL, Platform Advisory – Talkbook, Amstelveen: KPMG Advisory N.V., 2017.

[KPMGNL17-2] KPMG NL, The Connected Car is here to stay, Amstelveen: KPMG Advisory N.V., 2017.

[KPMGUK17] KPMG UK, Mobility 2030, KPMG UK, 2017.

[Morr16] D.Z. Morris, Today’s cars are parked 95% of the time,,, 2016.

[OPSI17] OpenSignal, State of Mobile Networks: Netherlands (September 2017),,, 2017.

[RIJK17-1] Rijksoverheid, Infrastructure PPP projects,,, 2017.

[RIJK17-2] Rijksoverheid, The Netherlands as a proving ground for mobility,,, 2017.

[RTL17] RTL Nederland, Brabant laat zelfrijdende auto’s testen op de openbare weg, RTL Nieuws,, 2017.

[TECR17] TechCrunch, Amber Mobility to launch self-driving service in the Netherlands by 2018,,, 2017.

[Tiwa13] A. Tiwana, Platform Ecosystems, Elsevier Science & Technology, 2013.

[TNO17] TNO, Truck platoon matching paves the way for greener freight transport,,, 2017.

[TUEI17] TU Eindhoven, Strategic Area Smart Mobility, TU Eindhoven University of Technology,, 2017.

Blockchain: let’s view both sides of this coin

Ledgable is a company that provides ‘Blockchain-As-A-Service’ (BAAS): a cloud service which allows businesses to have their own blockchain up and running in less than half an hour. Compact talked to Ledgable’s CEO, mr. Sam Colak, to find out more about Ledgable.


With the introduction of Bitcoin in 2008, a new way to register transactions made its appearance. A very interesting new way as it turned out. With blockchain, the technology behind Bitcoin, it is possible to digitally send payments between two parties without needing a third party to verify the transaction.

The name ‘blockchain’ is derived from its nature: a chain of blocks, and every block is made up of transactions. Using cryptography to keep exchanges secure, blockchain provides a decentralized database of transactions that everyone on the network can see.

Blockchain can however be used for more than just cryptocurrencies or payments. Blockchain can also be considered for smart contracts (a programmable contract stored in the chain), compliance and digital identity. The new technology is exciting a lot of people around the world and almost every major financial institution in the world has started up blockchain research.

Ledgable enables its clients to leverage this technology and supplies blockchain as a cloud service, which can be up and running in less than half an hour, with no up-front costs.

Mr. Colak, can you explain how Ledgable came into being?

The initial concept of Ledgable was known as Vault, which was originally focused on high transaction volume bank settlements; a system to challenge SWIFT. Multiple banks would have multiple holding accounts, which would need to be coordinated into a central infrastructure (the Vault).

Vault was designed for banking, but collaboration with clients led to the focus on the banking infrastructure being removed. The system could also serve as a settlement system for businesses. The client needed a mechanism that instantaneously managed and recorded actions in the form of a secure workflow. Blockchain is perfect for this. There was one hiccup: the client was not going to buy a service when he could not put the data infrastructure in his own data center.

On the basis of this we realized that we needed to build a new interface and completely change the user interface. Clients needed to be able to express how data is stored, where it is stored and how many replications the data is stored over. The product changed from account management and financial services, to basically everything. Ledgable now targets all sectors.

What are your clients using blockchain for?

The first set of typical clients comes to Ledgable for disaster recovery scenarios. The infrastructure of clients lacks the capability to deal with failover. Small and medium-sized enterprises do not have the ability to purchase solutions like Oracle and MySQL. Ledgable lets you define any amount of failovers, without impacting the price.

The second set of clients uses Ledgable for regulatory requirements, internal compliance or public relations. They have problems with combining transparency and security. Other blockchains address the sharing and transparency issues by giving a complete copy of the data to everyone (the consortium model). Ledgable avoids opening up the infrastructure to anyone else other than the party that wants to control it and lets the business decide how transparent the model is, without the security implications.

There is one significant client in the USA, which issues debit cards for children. Parents can load this card for lunch/pocket money. The application framework is connected to the Ledgable infrastructure.

What advantages does Ledgable offer to its clients?

Setting up a secure blockchain is not straightforward; cost is a significant aspect. Cost models are often volume or subscription based. Both models have high initial implementation costs, but with Ledgable the infrastructure service is not invoiced to the client. The investment to join Ledgable is zero. The infrastructure on Ledgable’s side is already there. Users pay for each transaction that is written into the blockchain. However, anyone can sign up and use it for free, up to 10.000 records. Conventionally companies set up physically separated Development, Testing, Acceptance and Production (DTAP) environments. With Ledgable you can create four blockchains and call them D, T, A and P.

Are there any unintended consequences of replacing the current trust model with blockchain solutions?

The ramification in using DLT is that it remains a single-source of truth. There is simply no way to argue with the data entered into the service. Companies that misuse negligence or missing information to cover up facts can’t do this anymore.

The infrastructure that holds the data is publicly visible. How do you keep the data secure?

We take security very seriously. Ledgable records between 20.000 and 40.000 security attempts per day to break into the infrastructure. It would be very unwise to disclose our security methods. We have built security that monitors the interaction of users with the data. The cryptographic algorithms are not the problem, rather the software that performs the cryptographic work. Most attacks occur on the surrounding areas, that deal with the entry of data. Jailbreak (the famous iOS hack) for instance, occurred through image library decompression algorithms.

What regulatory challenges are you and your clients facing?

The client is directly responsible for the regulatory requirements. The regulatory implications coincide with the nature of the business and the location where the client wants the data to be stored. Where a company wants to put data, is in their hands. The service itself can be anywhere on the planet. We are able to set up a datacenter at a client’s request and also take the costs for this. We do however have minimum requirements with regard to the data centers.

Does blockchain require standardization?

This depends on whom you talk to: IBM’s Hyperledger tends to do things its own way. Ethereum is more a dictatorship regarding standards. Unfortunately there are a number of forks from the original codebase and so as a result, clients tend to use a platform that is not necessarily guaranteed to be future-proof. Companies tend to buy in and thereafter perform little or no maintenance, unless absolutely necessary.

I do not foresee blockchains being interoperable in the near future. The industry has incentives to keep things separated. The capability to be interoperable is not to the benefit of the companies providing the services.

When will we see more of blockchain and what business models will be disrupted?

The transition to blockchain is already in process. Quite often the visibility is obscured for political reasons. Some blockchains are shared across organizations and consequently this information is sensitive.

Financial or ownership markets are most affected since there is no real way to argue with the recorded information. Where beforehand there was a possibility of human error or data archiving issues, this does not exist with a third party with strong retention policies. Data cannot be ‘manipulated’ by any party once it is written.

Going digital internationally

Digitization has an unexpected outcome: the redefinition and ever-increasing importance of the analog. So High Tech leads to the increasing need of High Touch like we experienced with the intro of the telephone last century. Organizations and leaders of those organizations that are capable to reconcile those dilemmas are having a great competitive advantage over those who believe that Digital High Tech will push aside Analog High Touch.


Speaking at the Cisco Live! 2015 conference in Milan, Italy, VP David Bevilacqua, said: ‘Most digitalization projects being carried out by customers will fail because they are failing to re-imagine. The digital strategy should be fully in-line with the business strategy. You cannot do this without first looking at how, as a vision, you drive the digitalization of your journey.’ Bevilacqua added that organizations were failing to think about the sort of business they wanted to be, and not just how they wanted to evolve. ‘We need a new kind of strategy where the business and digital strategy are as one,’ he said.

Whilst many organizations recognize the importance of digitalization, most are struggling to achieve and deliver the business benefits. For example, some retailers have ceased trading in the high street and gone totally online requiring a catastrophic change in how they operate and loss of their traditional trading knowledge as they struggle with the new. Some retailers have developed new web based online selling in competition with their own high street stores which immediately gives them a dilemma when customers browse in store to see and evaluate products hands-on, only to return home and surf to buy from their online division.

Apart from new organizations that are born digital, most digitalization is not about abandoning history and throwing away established core business practices and totally transferring to a new IT way of doing business, but combining the strengths of both. Research evidence from our consulting practice reveals that leaders and managers find themselves up against a number of key dilemmas when seeking to digitalize. By confronting these dilemmas and seeking effective reconciliations between their competing demands, organizations can embed new solutions that synergize older traditional business with the new worlds of IT.

Digital dilemmas across cultures

Organizations have to define new paradigms for electronic commerce and enable, facilitate, sustain and reward interaction between consumers and their own organization. They can exploit potential markets by having a website to promote and market their products and services. With the rapid growth of the Internet, it would be foolhardy for companies to ignore its powers and potential. More and more companies are jumping on the bandwagon and getting their businesses wired to stay afloat in today’s competitive environment.

Porter used the value-chain concept in showing the advantages of incorporating digital resources into businesses. Basically, the value chain was divided into its physical and informational components. The physical component included all the steps in capturing and manipulating the data. With the help of information technology, companies could effectively improve their information processing powers. The Internet was hailed as a good fit to those industries with information-based business models.

The Web offers businesses new distribution channels that enable customers worldwide to be informed and buy their products. It has the potential to create a number of opportunities. For example, an Internet-enabled distribution strategy has been heralded as a way for small and medium-sized companies to compete equally with larger organizations.

Changing paradigm

The industry stands at the summit of the new Information Economy. The future belongs to those enterprises which can receive, organize, distribute and utilize information most effectively and most swiftly. And the Internet plays a crucial role in this development.

As James F. Moore has pointed out we have moved beyond competition and co-operation to the creation of business ecosystems, that are whole economic communities of interacting organizations and individuals. Informational goods and services are produced by and for eco-system members. The most effective strategy is to position yourself near the centre of the web or ecosystem and make your enterprise indispensable to its major transactions. As the ecosystem develops its principal modes of transactions grow with it, often faster than the ecosystem itself. Where an enterprise is a node in a system every new member increases nodal transactions which grow exponentially. Thus the tenth member of a group produces nine additional relationships, all of which may pass through the nodal enterprise. Figure 1 shows what the quantum leap ‘beyond competition’ looks like.


Figure 1. The emergence of business ecosystems. [Click on the image for a larger image]

Note that competing and co-operating have jumped to a higher level of complexity. Whereas employees once co-operated within the firm to compete with those outside the firm, now whole ecosystems of companies co-operate within that ecosystem to compete with outside ecosystems, which could include replacements for the organization itself, not an impossible scenario.

Mostly quoted dilemmas between analog and digital

In their interesting article Building a Digital Culture: How to meet the challenge of multichannel digitization, Harshak et al. ([Hars13]) argued that many customer-facing businesses installed digitally enabled organizations, processes, and systems to remain competitive by building multichannel experiences. This approach, however, is not enough in itself and often results in a divided company: ‘one part moving into the future, the other clinging to traditional sales channels — and a delay in the much-needed transition to a multichannel operating model’. The suggestion in the article is that a culture needs to be created that embraces digital media and multichannel capabilities. This culture can be created by using formal (people processes and role definitions) and informal levers (role models and behaviors) in an integrated fashion so that it can help people adapt to new ways of doing business and enable companies to deliver the multichannel experience that customers want.

It is in the integrated approach that we find value can be created. But it assumes that the crucial dilemmas need to be reconciled. In Table 1, the authors raise some approaches that distinguish the analog and the digital world.


Table 1. Main characteristics of analog versus digital. [Click on the image for a larger image]

In her book What’s Mine is Yours, Botsman ([Bots10]) describes three growing models of Collaborative Consumption: Product Service Systems, Communal Economies, and Redistribution Markets. Social networks facilitate consumer-to-consumer marketplaces that redistribute goods from where they are not needed to somewhere or someone where they are. This business model encourages reusing/reselling of old items rather them throwing them out, thereby reducing the waste and carbon emissions that go along with new production.

Organizational dilemmas

When we look at the analog – digital divide proposed by Harshak et al. ([Hars13]), we see lots of resemblances with a proposed move from the Eiffel Tower Culture and the Guided Missile Culture as described in Riding the Waves ([Trom13]). The Eiffel Tower is characterized by a role orientation, Management-by-Job-Description, and importance of Expertise on the product.

Conversely, the digital world, according to the authors, seems to be better supported by a Result Oriented Guided Missile, where empowered employees are Managed-By-Objectives and where the motivation lies in the financial payment they get for an achieved goal.

We believe that for the digitalized approach to be sustainably successful, both cultures need to be integrated as we can see through a variety of lenses. For a start, we examine the type of leadership that reconciles the extreme demands of both analog and digital worlds.

Slow versus rapid decision making

Asian cultures have always had an interest in long-termism, that is not shared as strongly by American men. Asians need long-term relationships for cultural and biological survival. You need help, protection, and shelter to raise a family. Some cultures have long preferred the enduring relationship, while many Western men prefer the one-night stand, all they need to get their genes widely distributed. But long-termism is now a major economic issue. The ‘quick buck’ may make you profitable, but virtually every sophisticated product of inherent value to consumers was made slowly by people who cared for the product and for each other and persisted. For years now ‘persistence’ has been the strongest Japanese value in opinion polls. We have to decide as a nation whether to be keyboard entrepreneurs or hang in there and remain faithful to some sustainable purpose beyond ourselves.

Going for the clicks that stick

The challenge for Financial Service Companies has come in part from the unbundling of services into specific pieces. You can buy information, research, trading facilities and advice from separate sources and the combined fees may be less than those paid to six and seven figure professionals. While the Internet is overflowing with data, this is not the same as knowledge or information. We are informed by facts relevant to our questions and concerns. We ‘know’ when we get answers to our propositions and hypotheses. The larger the Internet becomes, the more customers will need a guide to what is relevant to their business or interests.

The dilemma can be analyzed as follows. On the one axis we find low-cost specific data and transactions on the Internet. The risk here is that you create a High Tech solution where brokers are by-passed by technology. On the other, we find the rich, meaningful, diffuse personal relationships that brokers have developed with their clients. It maintains a High Touch environment where you are (over) paying for your own dependence.

It is obvious that in specific cultures such as the US and Northwest Europe Internet services can take a lot away from traditional face-to-face business. This is true for financial services, buying a dishwasher, a CD, a book and even a car. However, in more diffuse cultures such Arab, Latino and most Asian the relationships are seen as so crucial that one would never give them up for an anonymous service that you get through a click. I remember an American consultant of Merrill Lynch working in Saudi saying that the Internet did not take off easily. They like to be accompanied by a consultant. However, his American colleagues were telling him that you cannot ignore the fact that the more Internet driven competitors were gradually taking market share away.

Merrill Lynch found a situation where Charles Schwab’s high level Internet services were eating away quite some market share. Merrill Lynch’s answer was close to brilliant. They well understood that instead of relationships being eclipsed by the Internet, they become more and more important in interpreting the possible meanings of the data flows. This is ever more true as the increasing volume of available data outgrows what is relevant to each client.  

Merrill Lynch’s response to this dilemma was to refocus its efforts on reconciling new technology with customer service. Its strategy was announced by John Steffens at the Forrester Conference in May 1999: ‘By combining technology with skilled advisors, clients are given the convenience of interacting when, how and where they want.’ Dave Komansky clarified the policy: ‘Anyone, anywhere, at any time can log into the Internet to get free quotes, market data, and stock picks from a variety of chat rooms. Yet at Merrill Lynch we are confidently making unparalleled billion dollar investments in our Financial Consultants, research analysts and in our technology and products. We’re doing this because we know success in the online world – as it was in the offline world – will be defined by meaningful content for the individual.’

We need High Tech but we also need High Touch. The more those numbers rain down upon you, the more you need to talk to someone about them. Merrill Lynch is using the Internet to give better personal service (using high technology) to its High-Touch customers, but also use the Internet to identify those High-Tech customers for whom it makes good business sense to offer High Touch.


Figure 2. High Tech versus High Touch ([Hamp00]). [Click on the image for a larger image]

It is quite interesting to note that where the High-Touch and brick and mortar organizations are trying to integrate the digital High-Tech through clicks, there is a countervailing development where we see that Amazon is going to build shops. Bookstore owners often think of as the enemy. Now it is becoming one of them. At the beginning of November 2015, the online retail giant will open its first-ever brick-and-mortar retail store in its 20 year existence, in University Village.

The store, called Amazon Books, looks a lot like bookstores that populate malls across the country. Its wood shelves are stocked with 5,000 to 6,000 titles, best-sellers as well as customer favorites.

There is some irony in Amazon opening a physical store. For years, it could undercut physical retailers on price because it did not have brick-and-mortar locations. But those stores offered something Amazon could not: the instant gratification of owning an item the second it was purchased, as well as the personal touch of a knowledgeable sales clerk.

Amazon is betting that the troves of data it generates from shopping patterns on its website will give it advantages in its retail location that other bookstores cannot match. It will use data to pick titles that will most appeal to Seattle shoppers.

And that could also solve the business problem that has long plagued other bookstores: unsold books that gather dust on shelves and get sent back to publishers. More than most book retailers, Amazon has a deep insight into customer buying habits and can stock its store with titles most likely to move.

Focus on planning and optimization versus focus on rapid launch and learn

The last dilemma is perhaps one of the most important ones to reconcile. It is brilliantly described in The Lean Startup by Erik Ries ([Ries11]). In short, there is no time to keep on focusing on planning and optimization, because you will again be beaten by organizations who learn faster.

The Lean Startup provides a scientific approach to creating and managing startups and getting a desired product into the customers’ hands faster. The Lean Startup method explains how one needs to drive a startup, how to steer, when to turn, and when to persevere and grow a business with maximum acceleration. It is a principled approach to new product development.

Too many startups begin with an idea for a product that they think people want. They then spend months, sometimes years, perfecting that product without ever showing the product, even in a very rudimentary form, to the prospective customer. When they fail to achieve high customer sales, it is often because they never spoke to prospective customers beforehand to determine whether or not the product was interesting. When customers ultimately communicate, through their indifference, that they do not care about the idea, the startup fails.

Eliminate uncertainty

The lack of a tailored management process has led many a startup or, as Ries describes them, ‘a human institution designed to create a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty’ ([Ries11]), to abandon all processes. They take a ‘just do it’ approach that avoids all forms of management. But this is not the only option. Using the Lean Startup approach, companies can create order not chaos by providing tools to continuously test a vision. Lean is not simply about spending less money. Lean is not just about failing fast, failing cheap. It is about putting a process, a methodology, around the development of a product.

Work smarter, not harder

The Lean Startup methodology has as a premise that every start up is a grand experiment that attempts to answer a question. The question is not ‘Can this product be built?’ Instead, the questions are ‘Should this product be built?’ and ‘Can we build a sustainable business around this set of products and services?’ This experiment is more than just theoretical inquiry; it is a first product. If it is successful, it allows a manager to get started with his or her campaign: enlisting early adopters, adding employees to each further experiment or iteration, and eventually starting to build a product. By the time that product is ready to be distributed widely, it will already have established customers. It will have solved real problems and offer detailed specifications for what needs to be built.

Develop a minimum viable product

A core component of the Lean Startup methodology is the build-measure-learn feedback loop. The first step is figuring out the problem that needs to be solved and then developing a minimum viable product (MVP) to begin the process of learning as quickly as possible. Once the MVP is established, a startup can work on tuning the engine. This will involve measurement and learning and must include actionable metrics that can demonstrate cause and effect questions.

The startup will also utilize an investigative development method called the ‘Five Whys’; asking simple questions to study and solve problems along the way. When this process of measuring and learning is done correctly, it will be clear that a company is either moving the drivers of the business model or not. If not, it is a sign that it is time to pivot or make a structural course correction to test a new fundamental hypothesis about the product, strategy and engine of growth.

Validated learning

Progress in manufacturing is measured by the production of high quality goods. The unit of progress for Lean Startups is validated learning – a rigorous method for demonstrating progress when one is embedded in the soil of extreme uncertainty. Once entrepreneurs embrace validated learning, the development process can shrink substantially. When you focus on figuring the right thing to build, the thing customers want and will pay for, you need not spend months waiting for a product beta launch to change the company’s direction. Instead, entrepreneurs can adapt their plans incrementally, inch by inch, minute by minute.


Figure 3. Speed up launch and learn. [Click on the image for a larger image]


In this short paper we have been trying to show that digitalization has an unexpected outcome: the redefinition and ever-increasing importance of the analog. Very much like the introduction of the telephone has increased the chance of people causing traffic jams because they want to see each other. So High Tech leads to the increasing need of High Touch. The quick-buck demands long term trust and the perfect tested out products needs to be launched quickly as a minimal viable product. Organizations and leaders of those organizations who are capable of reconciling these dilemmas have a great competitive advantage over those who believe that Digital High Tech will push aside Analog High Touch.


[Bots10] Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers, What’s mine is yours. The rise of collaborative consumption, HarperCollins, 2010.

[Hamp00] Charles Hampden-Turner and Fons Trompenaars, Building Cross-Cultural Competence: How to Create Wealth from Conflicting Values, Yale University Press, 2000.

[Hars13] Ashley Harshak et al., Building a digital culture: How to meet the challenge of multichannel digitization, Booz & Company, 2013.

[Ries11] Eric Ries, The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses, Crown Business: New York, 2011.

[Trom13] Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner, Riding the Waves of Culture. Understanding Cultural Diversity in Business, 3rd Edition, Nicholas Brealey Publishing: London, 2013.

Capitalizing on external data is not only an outside-in concept

Throughout most large and medium sized corporations data is generated and consumed within core processes. This has caused an increase in data on products, consumers and companies and has unfolded in an increasing availability of data generated by external sources. This availability has facilitated the rapid evolution of ‘business as usual’, but has also enabled service differentiation in the periphery. Whether external data is applied within the corporation (outside-in) or generated to be made available externally (inside-out), companies face unique data management challenges that often require tailored solutions.


Corporations are integrating more and more data generated outside their company in their internal processes to increase efficiency, understand customers or gain new insights. This external data is becoming increasingly important when more and different data becomes available. However, very few organizations have standardized procedures to deal with external data. Even fewer organizations utilize the externally available data to its full potential.

C-level executives understand that concepts like analytics and process automation are essential for a successful business. Employees are already using data generated within the company in their daily work and their dependency on data will keep increasing in the years to come.

Due to upcoming technologies such as predictive analytics, machine learning and robotics, the corporate taste for applying data will further reduce human involvement in numerous business processes.

But this insight is not new. What is new, is that the value of data created externally is becoming more important than the data that you acquire from internal sources ([Wood12]). Data that is not captured internally can provide new insights into customer behavior and preferences not previously accessible. This enables companies to further tailor their services, sales and marketing to those customers that are most likely to buy their products.

This is not the only method to capitalize on external data however. Companies can:

  1. increase organizational or operational efficiencies;
  2. use internal and external data in new business models;
  3. directly monetize from making internal data externally available.

Increase Organizational Efficiencies

The most straightforward method to capitalize on external data is by integrating it within internal processes.

A case for external data integration that is becoming more common is using customer sentiment to improve the efficiency of marketing campaigns ([Fran16]). This typically starts passively by looking at the number of shares and likes a campaign generates on social media, but can go as far as real time interaction with customers and active participation in discussions to identify potential sales leads.

A more internally focused example is product information. Retailers within the food industry integrate data on product labeling, product packaging and ingredients from their suppliers ([Swar17]). This not only reduces time at the moment of data entry, but also when the data is consumed further downstream, given the reliability and quality of this data is correct.

Besides this outside-in concept to capitalize on external data by increasing the bottom-line, recent developments change corporate perspective and turn data monetization inside-out.

New Business Models

If your company generates data or possesses proprietary information, you can consider how the data and information you already possess can be reapplied. That staying close to your current business is beneficial is confirmed in an HBR study. The authors have found that top performing companies, across 62 industries, consistently expand their business on the periphery of their existing operations ([Lewi16]).

There are three ways one can go about building new business models, by creating value added services:

  1. from only internal data;
  2. from only creating additional insights and reselling external data;
  3. by combining internal and external data sources.

This is also shown in figure 1.


Figure 1. New business models can be constructed in one of three ways. [Click on the image for a larger image]

Create value for customers only from internal data

A familiar example of generating value from internal data is Google. Google has always had a data driven business and has originally provided value-added data services from their search business. Since 2005, the company has been using their proprietary audience and machine learning data in their Google Analytics offering. Since March 2016, this offering has been expanded with an enterprise-class solution: Analytics 360, which adds functionality that enables personalized user experienced testing and much more.

Creating value for customers only from external data

The added value of businesses that capitalize only on external data (generally advertised as data providers) is the addition of structure through analytics. Transforming data to information is complex and not every company is able or willing to do this on its own. Companies like Experian, Acxiom and GNIP collect and aggregate data from social media, financial sources and open, publically available data and turn this into insight.

Through these value-added services, these data providers provide companies with the necessary information to increase the efficiency of their business. Examples include the evaluation of the borrowing capacity of clients, the likelihood estimation of a customer having any interest in a specific service, and the evaluation of customer sentiment on social media.

Combining internal and external data

Several of the large food and agriculture multinationals have acquired analytics and data driven business in the last few years. Presently they are competing with services that help farmers optimize crop yields. These services integrate proprietary data on their products’ growth properties and externally available data such as historical weather patterns, soil properties and satellite imaging. Cargill’s NextField DataRX, Dupont’s Encirca Services and Monsanto’s FieldView help farmers grow crops better and more efficiently and navigate weather shifts ([Bung14]). Moreover, Dupont’s Pioneer company has developed mobile applications that help making farming easier and more reliable. These apps provide farmers with information on crop yield estimates, weed and pest control and even help farmers estimate the growth stage of their crops.

Direct Monetization

A specific new business model to generate value with your data is selling it directly to other companies. This sounds counterintuitive. Many companies’ core business is collecting data on their customers, assets or users. And many suspect that selling this data could undermine their position. The key is to sell your data to companies that aren’t your competitors, or aggregate the data sufficiently to ensure that true insights into your core business don’t shine through ([Lewi16]). Although not every company generates data that is of interest to other parties, we hope you get some inspiration from the following examples of companies which do.

UnitedHealth, an American health insurance provider, has created a business of selling aggregated claims and clinical information that it receives and generates from about 150 million individuals. UnitedHealth sells this data to pharmaceutical companies to give insights on how a product is being used, the product’s effectiveness and its competitiveness. It provides data attributes such as, but not limited to, educational background, histology results of clinical exams, hours of self-reported sleep, tobacco or alcohol use and gender, ethnicity and age. This creates a model that can be easily adopted by similar companies, but hasn’t found widespread application.

In January 2016, Telefonica announced they were launching a joint-venture in China to sell mobile consumer data. Besides their existing consumer base in several European and South American countries, Telefonica will now generate and sell anonymized and aggregated mobile network data on 287 million additional China Unicom users. The data is enriched with aspects such as social demographics, home and work location, modes of transport and other attributes, allowing sophisticated profiling. It is being used to find optimal locations for new store placement but also for safety initiatives such as crowd control.

Challenges dealing with external data

Although these examples of successful business models that incorporate or generate external data are inspiring, companies that adopt these models face many challenges. These challenges are sometimes specific to external data, but are often generic inefficiencies that are resolved by good data management.

We can distinguish between these challenges in the phase of the data lifecycle they occur; 1) Acquisition, 2) Transformation and 3) Integration (ATI). This is similar to the Extract, Transform, Load (ETL) taxon, but broadens the scope slightly. Figure 2 contains a non-exhaustive overview of aspects involved in this process.


Figure 2. Different aspects contribute to the success of external data management.


During the acquisition an organization should manage data acquisition concepts such as procurement, quality control and service level agreements (SLAs), but also interfaces with the data providers and authorizations within your organization. In corporations, external data is often incrementally introduced in different places in the organization. Local initiatives find solutions for the challenges they face. But these local solutions don’t get implemented organization wide.

Not aligning these initiatives can be costly and are often not transparent to top level management because of their fragmentation throughout the organization. It is therefore important for top level management to lead a unified data management agenda to achieve alignment and leverage across the organization ([Loga16]). This not only covers data acquisition, but includes data governance, data quality and other organization-wide data management aspects.

Multiple people at your company have acquired the same data set

If one or more external data sets are relevant to a certain department in your organization, chances are high that the same data set is used in other departments for the same reason. Disregarding whether or not these data sets can be freely acquired, having to store, manage and update often large amounts of data multiple times is a costly affair. In order to combat this, a central data repository should keep track of all external data sets, interfaces, updates and authorized users within the company. Moreover, provider and api management should be implemented.

Dealing with different versions of a single data set

Not only duplicate data sets are a risk for an organization, storing and maintaining different versions of the same data set introduces similar complications. There are good reasons to keep different versions of a data set, such as to keep track of historic patterns. In this instance detailed version control is important to ensure traceability (or: data lineage) of your data through your companies processes. This is particularly important for regulatory compliance, but also for reporting entities to ensure consistency and prevent complications with aggregated data based on different versions.


The transformational aspects of external data management should include data conversion efforts to unify data formats such as dates, numbers, addresses etc. with your internal data model. It should also include (automated) data cleansing for external data and anonymization of internal data when you are exposing data to the outside world.

Applying data set updates

Wilder-James estimates the amount of time spent on conversion, cleansing and previously mentioned acquisition activities make up 80% of the total time spent on data operations ([Wild16]). When dealing with a fixed portfolio of data sets, tooling can automate much of these tasks for each update of the data. This will significantly reduce effort on these currently manual tasks.

Automating alone does not solve this completely. Version control is also very important to ensure automation does not have adverse effects within the organization. In some cases, automated updating is not wanted. For example, when changes to the data are applied annually (vendor naming, model types etc.), a more frequent updating regiment could bring unnecessary complexity and error.

Issues with data privacy

Data privacy is a hot topic ([A&O16]). With the newly adopted European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in place by 2018, data subject consent and rights are aspects to apply to your data management processes. Selling aggregated and anonymized data outside the country it was collected in is becoming more complicated. More requirements are placed on asking subject consent and corporations have to ensure contractual documentation is adequate for GDPR standards.


Within the integration activities, the organization is faced with many technical challenges. Deploying a data lake or applying the data through direct (on demand) integration are complicated affairs. Successful integration depends on available architecture, technologies and desired data sources, but also heavily on strong data governance ([Jeur17]).

Reliability of external data

One aspect of data that is often overlooked is reliability. The reliability of data refers to a multitude of aspects of data that we deem important. For external data integration relevant reliability measures are a combination of the data’s accuracy and appropriateness.

Accuracy is defined as the closeness from the data to its actual value. This is especially important for quantitative measures and should be taken into account when further calculations rely on this data. Sometimes, when dealing with external data sources, the data’s accuracy is mentioned and can be taken into account during analysis.

Appropriateness is more difficult to quantify but can be a major factor in the reliability of the data as a whole. For example, it plays an important role within the Solvency II regulatory framework for insurance and re-insurance companies. Within the context of external data, appropriate data sources should ensure that data corresponds to the goal it is intended for, it requires the data to be consistent with underlying statistical assumptions, and it requires the data to be acquired, converted and integrated in a transparent and structured manner.

The reliability of external data is difficult to pin-point accurately. However, during integration and application into analyses, keeping track of the data sources reliability can prevent issues later on. Imagine using a data set from a data vendor you have worked with for 5 years versus using a newly published data set from a not well-known university. The quality of these data sets might be the same, but their reliability could differ. Making c-level decisions based on the latter set might upset shareholders when the data set turns out to be unreliable.

We propose to keep track of data set accuracy and appropriateness throughout the data lifecycle. These aspects for each (critical) attribute can be documented in a data directory or similarly structured documentation. However, documentation alone does not achieve reliable results. End-users of data within your company should reflect on their analyses with such a data directory in order to ensure that their analyses are in their turn reliable.


Whether you are integrating external data in your processes, you are starting a new business by using external data, or you are selling the data you own to third parties, there is great potential in the application of external data.

However, throughout the life cycle of external data, either created by or applied within your organization, many challenges need to be tackled. Even if company-wide data management maturity is high, there might still be aspects unique to external data integration or creation that should be organized. Topics mentioned such as API and Provider management, automated data cleansing and conversion, and sufficiently anonymized data for publication, largely contribute to the success of an external data-driven business model.


Customer centricity

De voortdurende verandering van de verwachtingen van de klant en het gedrag in de richting van de digitale en altijd en overal beschikbare dienstverlening wordt alleen maar versneld door de technologische mogelijkheden en de samenwerking tussen verschillende partijen. Om in te spelen op deze veranderingen, moeten organisaties in de schoenen van de klant staan bij het ontwerpen en leveren van interacties en ervoor zorgen dat de klantinspanning zo veel mogelijk beperkt wordt en tegelijkertijd de maximale klantwaarde behaald wordt. Hierbij gaat het ook om het aanbieden van een aangename ervaring, vanaf het eerste contactmoment tot aan het uiteindelijke aankoopproces. Dit is een strategie die gebaseerd is op het vooraanzetten van de klant in de kern van de organisatie.


De klant centraal stellen is makkelijker gezegd dan gedaan. Het zijn vier simpele woorden die vaak gebruikt worden, maar wat betekent dit nou eigenlijk? Een veelgebruikte benaming voor het centraal stellen van de klant is customer centricity, met als doel de relatie met de klant te versterken en tegelijkertijd de omzet te kunnen behouden of te verhogen. Organisaties worden zich steeds meer bewust dat aanpassing noodzakelijk is om relevant te blijven in de nieuwe situatie door de voortdurende veranderingen op de markt. De eerste essentiële stap om de klant te binden aan de organisatie is te kiezen voor een strategie waarbij de klant centraal staat. Veel organisaties communiceren dat zij de klant centraal stellen, maar hoe centraal staat de klant dan écht?

Wat betekent customer centricity?

Het zijn van customer-centric wordt regelmatig als synoniem gebruikt voor het hebben van een customer-focus, maar in de realiteit liggen deze begrippen ver uit elkaar. Binnen customer-focused organisaties is vaak sprake van een inside-out-perspectief, waarbij de waarde van een klantrelatie veelal ligt in de omzet. Binnen customer-centric organisaties wordt gekeken naar de wereld vanuit een outside-in-perspectief, waarbij een langere en diepere relatie wordt opgebouwd met een klant, wat op de langere termijn een winstgevendere relatie kan opleveren. Veel bedrijven hebben al de eerste stappen gezet richting customer-focus: neem een telecombedrijf dat de klant informeert over de gebruikskosten van mobiele telefonie bij een verblijf in het buitenland. De stap naar customer centricity gaat echter toch iets verder.

In het genoemde voorbeeld wordt de klant geïnformeerd om rekening te houden met mogelijke (extra) kosten. Vanuit het bedrijfsperspectief gezien is dit een service richting de klant, maar vanuit het klantperspectief is dit wellicht een overbodige service. De vraag die hierbij centraal staat, is of de klant behoefte heeft om hierover geïnformeerd te worden. Met andere woorden: is de informatie die de klant aangeboden krijgt ook (daadwerkelijk) de informatie waar de klant behoefte aan heeft? Om vanuit het perspectief van een klant te denken is het belangrijk om diens behoeften in kaart te brengen (bijvoorbeeld met een customer journey). Op basis van die inzichten wordt dan besloten welke service het beste aansluit bij de klant, in plaats van andersom. Dit is de kern van customer centricity.

Inzichten van klanten kunnen verkregen worden door kwantitatief en kwalitatief onderzoek te verrichten. Door middel van kwantitatieve data kunnen ‘pijnpunten’ van de klant geïdentificeerd worden. De oorzaak van deze pijnpunten kan vervolgens achterhaald worden door in gesprek te gaan met de klant. De focus van een customer-centric benadering ligt op het meten van en correct inspelen op klantgedrag, zodat de aangeboden service relevant blijft voor de klant.

Voor een organisatie is het handig om klanten te segmenteren naar omzet, om zo gemakkelijker de behoeften van klanten te analyseren en de ondernemingsstrategie hierop af te stemmen. Een organisatie heeft immers niet alle resources om zich op alle klanten te focussen. Klantdata geeft inzicht in verschillende klantsegmenten. Aan de hand van deze segmenten kunnen de behoeften van de klant achterhaald worden. Tevens kunnen de ‘potentiële’ klanten geïdentificeerd worden, om vervolgens te focussen op producten en services die gericht zijn op deze doelgroep.

Organisaties gebruiken een customer centricity benadering vooral voor bestaande klanten en minder om nieuwe klanten te werven. Dit komt doordat organisaties meer informatie hebben over de bestaande klanten waarmee al gewerkt wordt. Het grootste voordeel dat organisaties zien bij het gebruiken van een customer-centric benadering is dat de tevredenheid van bestaande klanten bevorderd wordt en daarmee samenhangend de klantloyaliteit. Het bezitten van de juiste kennis, vaardigheden en klantperspectief worden als belangrijke factoren gezien om een customer-centric benadering juist te implementeren. Een customer-centric aanpak kan waarde toevoegen aan een organisatie, doordat deze zich onderscheidt van de concurrentie die niet dezelfde service aanbiedt qua producten of diensten.


Figuur 1. Wat customer centricity wel en niet is.

Customer Centricity Model

Customer centricity is geen nevenactiviteit, maar een strategische keuze. Het is niet eenvoudig om een customer-centric organisatie te zijn. Er moeten keuzes gemaakt worden die consequenties hebben voor de hele organisatie. Een klantgerichte organisatie detecteert de behoeften van haar klanten en maakt gebruik van haar middelen om georganiseerd te zijn rond haar klanten. Om de klant centraal te stellen, kunnen aspecten als customer experience, customer value en customer lifecycle ingezet worden. Customer centricity is het overlappende gedeelte tussen deze drie dimensies ([Krui16]).


Figuur 2. Customer Centricity Model ([Roek16]).

Customer experience | Klantervaring

De klantervaring is de som van alle ervaringen en interacties van een klant met een organisatie, zowel online als offline, gedurende de gehele contactrelatie met deze organisatie. De kern van customer experience is relevantie, de manier waarop een klant een product of dienst ervaart. Waar het om gaat, is dat de klant op het juiste moment de informatie krijgt die helpt om diens uiteindelijke behoeften te vervullen.

Om relevante interacties met de klant aan te gaan is het nodig om een duidelijk beeld te krijgen van de klant. Met behulp van het integreren en ook het (extra) analyseren van klantdata kan dat bereikt worden. Het spreekt hierbij voor zich dat de data uit verschillende bronnen afkomstig is, zowel intern als extern, en dat daarbij sprake is van zowel gestructureerde als ongestructureerde data. Onze ervaring is dat door de interactie met de klant via elk relevant kanaal aan te gaan, het positieve gevoel van de klant tegenover de organisatie stijgt. We zien daarbij dat een uitstekende klantervaring over alle kanalen niet alleen loyale klanten kan opleveren, maar ook behoud van en zelfs extra omzet op kan leveren.

Customer value | Klantwaarde

Een tweede dimensie van het Customer Centricity Model is klantwaarde. Dit is de totale waarde van de klant, onderverdeeld in twee aspecten: de potentiële waarde en de daadwerkelijke waarde. De potentiële waarde verwijst naar wat de klant verlangt van een service of product, terwijl de daadwerkelijke waarde verwijst naar het voordeel dat de klant heeft ontvangen door het gebruik van een service of product.

Elke klant heeft een eigen unieke set van behoeften en klantwaarden: er zullen niet twee klanten zijn die dezelfde klantwaarden toekennen aan dezelfde service of hetzelfde product. De service of producten met de hoogste kwaliteit hoeven niet altijd de hoogste klantwaarde te hebben, omdat het voordeel van elk aspect gemeten wordt tegenover de kosten van de service of producten.

De potentiële waarde van een klant is minstens zo belangrijk als de daadwerkelijke waarde. Op basis van de huidige gegevens die een organisatie van een klant heeft, worden voorspellingen gedaan over de potentiële waarde van die klant. In een customer-centric organisatie is het van belang om te begrijpen waar de waarde ligt voor de klant, om zo de meest relevante service of het product aan te bieden dat bijdraagt aan een hogere klanttevredenheid.

Customer lifecycle | Klantlifecycle

De klantlifecycle is het proces dat een klant doorloopt vanaf het overwegen, aankopen, gebruiken en onderhouden van een product of dienst, waarna dit proces opnieuw begint en er een cyclus ontstaat. Klanten hechten waarde aan organisaties die inspelen op de veranderende behoeften van de klant en direct reageren wanneer de (persoonlijke) situatie van de klant verandert.

Het resultaat hiervan is dat er meer loyale klanten kunnen zijn die een customer-centric organisatie waarderen, omdat de organisatie de juiste klantervaring aanbiedt en op deze manier waarde creëert in de wederzijdse relatie tussen de organisatie en de klant. De klant verwacht tenslotte dat producten of services altijd en overal op een relevante manier worden aangeboden, en te allen tijden een relevante beleving te krijgen.

Customer Centricity Maturity Model

Bij de strategische keuze voor customer centricity is een ‘aanvalsplan’ geen overbodige luxe. Een handzaam hulpmiddel hierbij is het Customer Experience Maturity Model. Dit model, wat in de kern een volwassenheidsmodel is, benadert customer centricity vanuit drie dimensies: customer insight, customer-focused culture en customer experience design. De organisatie kan zich per dimensie in verschillende fasen van volwassenheid bevinden. De combinatie van deze drie dimensies leidt tot een volwassenheidsmodel ten aanzien van customer centricity. Het Customer Experience Maturity Model bevat vijf verschillende stadia van volwassenheid, op basis van hoe geavanceerd een organisatie is ([Limi16]). Hieronder worden deze volwassenheidsfasen beknopt toegelicht.

Stadium 1: De klant wordt genegeerd.

Organisaties zijn in staat om klachten van klanten te ontvangen en te verwerken, maar helaas worden deze klachten niet bij de oorzaak aangepakt. Bedrijven begrijpen de interactie met de klant alleen in termen van hun eigen organisatie. Ze vestigen hun aandacht op het stroomlijnen van interne processen, in plaats van op het verbeteren van de interactie met de klant. Dergelijke bedrijven staan slechte klantervaringen toe en pakken de meest kritieke en slechte ervaringen niet systematisch op.

Stadium 2: De klant wordt gehoord.

Organisaties gebruiken klantonderzoek om hun klantenbestand te classificeren. Ze begrijpen dat klanttevredenheid belangrijk is, alleen worden er geen structurele aanpassingen gedaan om de klantbeleving te verbeteren. In deze fase doen bedrijven regelmatig marktonderzoek naar de klanttevredenheid, door gebruik te maken van tevredenheidsonderzoeken en benchmarking. De resultaten van deze marktonderzoeken worden echter niet met de gehele organisatie gedeeld.

Stadium 3: De klant wordt begrepen.

In deze fase begrijpen organisaties de vervulde en onvervulde behoeften van hun klanten. Deze behoeften worden gebruikt om nieuwe kansen op de markt te identificeren. De behoeften van de klant worden vastgesteld door een duurzaam, kwalitatief klantonderzoek. Medewerkers binnen de organisatie behandelen elkaar als klanten en streven ernaar om intern een voortreffelijke service aan te bieden. Daarnaast wordt business performance gemeten door de tevredenheid en het gedrag van klanten. De belangrijkste drijfveren van positieve ervaringen worden actief beheerd. Aspecten die belangrijk zijn voor de kwaliteit van de klantervaring en invloed hebben op de customer experience worden actief bijgehouden.

Stadium 4: De klant is betrokken.

In deze fase kunnen klanten direct feedback geven over hun ervaringen. Het doel is om deze feedback direct mee te nemen in de besluitvorming van de organisatie. Bedrijven kwantificeren en meten de customer experience nauwkeurig. Medewerkers in deze organisaties begrijpen hun rol in de context van de klant en zijn bevoegd om gelijk actie te ondernemen. Als een medewerker een probleem ziet en weet hoe dit probleem opgelost kan worden, is er geen toestemming nodig om dit te doen. In feite wordt de performance van de medewerker gemeten aan de hand van de customer experience. In deze fase zijn klantervaringen gestructureerd, geïdentificeerd door segmenten en in lijn gebracht met sales en de klantenservice.

Stadium 5: De klant is gepassioneerd.

Organisaties in deze fase traceren en rapporteren over alle interacties met klanten en gebruiken deze informatie om toekomstige interacties te voorspellen. Ze hebben geïnvesteerd in systemen die real time feedback kunnen geven op basis van ruwe data van klanten. Deze bedrijven hebben een systematische en dynamische weergave van de klant en volgen hun individuele voorkeuren. Gepassioneerde klanten worden routinematig betrokken bij het vaststellen van de richting van de organisatie en in de ontwikkeling van nieuwe diensten en producten. In dit stadium wordt gebruikgemaakt van data met betrekking tot klantgedrag, om zo producten af te stemmen op individuen, in plaats van alleen op categorieën.


Figuur 3. Maturity Model ([Limi16]). [Klik op de afbeelding voor een grotere afbeelding]

Met dit vijftrapsmodel kunnen organisaties naar eigen belang stappen zetten en maatregelen nemen, zoals inzichten verzamelen, een klantgerichte cultuur opbouwen en de klantervaring meenemen in elke beslissing die gemaakt wordt om een volgende fase te bereiken.

Customer-centric versus product-centric

Een positief bedrijfsresultaat kan een logisch gevolg zijn van customer centricity. Organisaties blijven echter worstelen in de overgang van product-centricity naar customer centricity. Organisaties leunen nog steeds zwaar op de informatie over de producten en service die ze aanbieden aan de klant, maar proberen daarnaast toch content, producten of services te creëren die de klant centraal stelt. Het risico hiervan is dat de organisatie customer-centric probeert te zijn, maar dat eigenlijk niet is. Het verschil tussen customer-centric en product-centric is voor deze organisaties niet altijd even duidelijk.


Een product-centric organisatie is gericht op de producten die zij op de markt brengt, in plaats van de klanten die deze producten kopen. Deze organisaties differentiëren zich van hun concurrenten door specifieke producten aan te bieden waarbij de prijs-kwaliteitverhouding acceptabel is voor de klant. Producten worden ontwikkeld door gebruik te maken van nieuwe technologieën. Hierbij wordt gekeken naar potentiële mogelijkheden, in plaats van te kijken naar de behoefte en wensen van de klant. Het proces binnen product-gedreven organisaties draait dan ook om de ontwikkeling van nieuwe producten of het reduceren van de kosten, en niet zozeer om klantbehoeften. Product-gedreven organisaties zijn afhankelijk van het vertrouwen van de klant in de producten die de organisatie aanbiedt. Als het product bijvoorbeeld bijzonder goed, efficiënt of rendabel is, zullen klanten dit daadwerkelijk erkennen en loyaal blijven. Maar zodra er geen meerwaarde meer is of een ander product meer waarde biedt, zullen klanten in de verleiding komen om de overstap te maken naar de concurrent. De toekomst voor deze organisaties is om productgerichtheid in evenwicht te brengen met klantgerichtheid, zodat de klanten direct worden betrokken in de besluitvorming en dat dit geen bijzaak wordt. Om dit te realiseren is het van belang te begrijpen waar klantgerichtheid op doelt. Klantgerichtheid kijkt naar de totale Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), met als doel om klanten te behouden over een langere periode ([Dumi07]).

Customer lifetime value

Customer lifetime value meet de winst die een organisatie maakt op een bepaalde klant. Deze klantwaarde wordt berekend door de netto contante waarde te nemen van de verwachte stroom van toekomstige nettobedragen van een klant aan het bedrijfsresultaat. Het berekenen van de CLV draagt bij aan het begrijpen van waarom het zinvol is om te investeren in het behouden van klanten. Om de CLV te bepalen zijn drie dimensies van belang, namelijk recentheid, frequentie en monetaire waarde.


Figuur 4. Customer lifetime value.


Hierbij gaat het om het bepalen wanneer de klant zijn laatste aankoop heeft gedaan en hoe vaak de klant een aankoop heeft gedaan. Bij het onderzoek naar de recentheid-dimensie kunnen organisaties additionele inzichten verkrijgen over de klantgroep. De inzichten kunnen verkregen worden door klantaankopen te analyseren. Met deze inzichten kan een organisatie voorspellen welke artikelen de klant de volgende keer waarschijnlijk zal aanschaffen en wat de gemiddelde tijd tussen twee aankopen is, om zo een beter beeld te krijgen over het aankoopgedrag van de klant.


Hierbij gaat het om hoe vaak een klant aankopen doet of van een service gebruikmaakt. De aankoopfrequentie kan bijdragen aan de beslissing of een klant potentiële waarde heeft. Hoe hoger de aankoopfrequentie van de klant is, des te hoger de potentiële klantwaarde.

Monetaire waarde

Dit is de lastigste dimensie van de drie, waarbij het gaat om hoeveel waarde een klant gegenereerd heeft voor de organisatie, wat verder reikt dan alleen de pure omzet van de organisatie. Bij monetaire waarde wordt ook rekening gehouden met de actuele marge, gegenereerd uit productaankopen, rekening houdend met de producten die geretourneerd worden.

De vergelijking

Product centricity begint met het hebben van een product of dienst die inspeelt op de behoeften van de klant, om vervolgens zoveel mogelijke klanten te trekken die hier behoefte aan hebben. Het succes wordt gemeten door het marktaandeel of het aantal klanten dat bereikt wordt, wat in Figuur 5 wordt uitgedrukt met de horizontale pijl.

In tegenstelling tot product centricity begint customer centricity met een klant en richt het zich vervolgens op alle aspecten, om zo veel mogelijk aan de behoeften van de klant te voldoen. De lengte van de verticale pijl wordt in dit geval gebruikt om het succes te meten, wat de klanttevredenheid representeert.


Figuur 5. Product centricity versus customer centricity.

Het belangrijkste onderscheid tussen de twee marktbenaderingen ligt in de manier waarop organisaties waarde wensen te creëren. In het geval van product-centricity ligt de nadruk op een geoptimaliseerd product of dienst, wat aansluit bij een zo groot mogelijke groep kopers. De focus ligt op het marktaandeel, terwijl bij customer-centricity de nadruk ligt op een geïndividualiseerde dienst of product, wat aansluit bij de wensen en klantwaarde van de individuele klant.

Uitdagingen om customer-centric te zijn

In vrijwel alle sectoren wordt de concurrentiestrijd heviger. De slag om de klant is in volle gang. Organisaties groot en klein moeten zich aanpassen aan de behoeften van hun klanten. Deze bepalen namelijk het succes van de organisatie. Veel organisaties willen hun klant centraal stellen, maar hoe dat in de praktijk gebeurt, verschilt per organisatie. In de ideale customer-centric organisatie zijn alle functionele activiteiten geïntegreerd en afgestemd om een superieure klantwaarde en ervaring te leveren. In een onderzoek door [Payn05] worden vijf generieke processen geïdentificeerd die essentieel zijn voor een organisatie om customer-centric te zijn.

Deze vijf processen zijn:

  1. een strategie-ontwikkelingsproces dat niet alleen een business strategie bevat, maar ook een customer strategie;
  2. het creëren van waarde in het proces, zowel voor de klant als voor de organisatie;
  3. een multichannel-integratieproces dat alle contactpunten met de klant omvat;
  4. het informatie-managementproces waarbij dataverzameling en data-analyse plaatsvindt;
  5. het prestatie-evaluatieproces waarbij de acties van de organisatie verbonden worden aan de prestaties van de organisatie.

Elk van deze processen vereist een cross-functionele coördinatie, wat voor veel organisaties nog een uitdaging is.

Een andere belangrijke uitdaging met betrekking tot customer-centric processen is het ontwikkelen van een mogelijkheid om de ideale balans te vinden tussen de eisen en behoeften van de klant, en het aanbieden van de relevante diensten en producten ([Day03]). Om dit te bereiken moeten analyses idealiter gericht zijn op klantniveau, zodat het probleem van de klant volledig in kaart gebracht en aangepakt kan worden. Hoe meer inzicht een organisatie krijgt over de verschillende groepen klanten die allen verschillende behoeften en verwachtingen hebben, des te beter de organisatie kan inspelen op hun eisen, en zodoende een relevante dienst of product kan aanbieden.

Wat betekent het om customer-centric te zijn?

De transformatie naar een organisatie waar alles om de klant draait, vereist daadkracht, focus en doorzettingsvermogen. Deze stap is niet eenvoudig. Veel bedrijven worstelen tot op de dag van vandaag nog met volledig customer-centric zijn.

Customer centricity gaat niet alleen over het aanbieden van een geweldige klantenservice. Het gaat ook om het aanbieden van een aangename ervaring, vanaf het eerste contactmoment tot aan het uiteindelijke aankoopproces. Ook betekent customer-centric zijn het creëren van een beleid, producten en processen die zijn ontworpen om klanten te ondersteunen met een geweldige ervaring. Het is een strategie die gebaseerd is op het vooropplaatsen van de klant in de kern van de organisatie. Diverse stappen binnen een organisatie kunnen bijdragen aan het meer customer-centric zijn.

Organisatiecultuur veranderen

De eerste essentiële stap is om de klant aan de organisatie te binden en te kiezen voor een bedrijfskoers waarin de klant centraal staat. Een invulling waarbij over alle kanalen gecommuniceerd wordt, is hier een logisch gevolg van: de klanten verwachten tenslotte dat producten overal en altijd op een relevante manier worden aangeboden en dat zij altijd en overal een relevante beleving krijgen.

Volledig klantinzicht

Een tweede essentiële stap is om een volledig klantinzicht te hebben. Er moet niet alleen geïdentificeerd worden wie de klant is, welk gedrag hij vertoont en wat de waarde van deze klant is, maar ook begrepen worden welke segmenten van de klant belangrijk zijn en wat diens voorkeuren zijn voor acties, producten en kanalen. Tevens zullen de uiteenlopende behoeften en wensen van de verschillende klantsegmenten achterhaald moeten worden, om een diepgaand inzicht te krijgen dat vervolgens gebruikt kan worden om maatwerk toe te passen op elk segment.

Optimale cross-channel user experience

Een derde essentiële stap is de beleving van de klant te ontwerpen en te begrijpen hoe de reis van de klant eruit ziet in de gehele productlifecycle. Klanten hebben behoefte aan informatie en functionaliteiten die zijn afgestemd op de processtap waarin ze zitten. De informatie die aangeboden wordt moet relevant zijn en de klant verder helpen. Daarnaast is het belangrijk om de verschillende platformen waarmee je communiceert bereikbaar te maken voor elk device, zoals een smartphone, tablet en desktop. Bij een aangename beleving blijft de klant loyaal en kunnen langtijdige relaties onderhouden worden.

Het juiste gedrag aanmoedigen

De vierde essentiële stap is om de eerste lijn te ’empoweren’. Bij veranderingen in situaties van de klanten dient er onmiddellijk een afweging gemaakt te worden om problemen zo snel mogelijk op te lossen, zonder besluitvormingen te escaleren. Met andere woorden: de frontlinie dient ook customer-centric te handelen bij veranderingen in het proces. Daarnaast is het ook van belang om medewerkers te motiveren een stapje verder te gaan, om er zeker van te zijn dat de klant tevreden is. Dit speelt ook een belangrijke rol in de relatie met de klant. Om dit te realiseren is het ook nodig om medewerkers te instrueren en genoeg bewegingsruimte te geven om direct te kunnen onderhandelen.

Integratie van de gebruikersbehoeften met businessdoelstellingen

De vijfde stap is een methode definiëren die relevant is om de customer centricity te meten. Het is belangrijk om verschillende klantsegmenten te definiëren en de behoeften van deze gebruikersgroepen te verenigen met de businessdoelstellingen. Het creëren van een positieve klantbeleving bij elk contact gedurende de gehele customer lifecycle moet voorop komen te staan. Het doel is om te begrijpen wat de waarnemingen vertellen en daarop in te spelen, om volgens de processen te optimaliseren en te verbeteren.

Cocreatie: betrek je klant bij de ontwikkeling

Een laatste stap die gezet kan worden, is om de klant meer te betrekken bij de ontwikkeling. Klanten zouden een veel actievere rol moeten hebben binnen het innovatieproces. We gaan ervan uit dat klanten het beste weten waaraan zij wel en geen behoefte hebben. Bij cocreatie vragen organisaties aan gebruikers zelf hun ideeën vorm te geven en uit te werken. Dat kan in elke levensfase van een product gebeuren: aan het begin, bij de ontwikkeling ervan en aan het einde, als feedback.


Figuur 6. Strategieën voor customer centricity.

Voordelen van customer-centric zijn

De klant centraal stellen is niet altijd even eenvoudig, maar indien de principes goed uitgevoerd worden, kan het diverse voordelen met zich meebrengen. Enkele voorbeelden zijn:

  • loyaliteit van bestaande klanten verhogen;
  • tevredenheid van bestaande klanten vergroten;
  • product- en dienstaanbod optimaliseren;
  • meer producten/diensten verkopen;
  • nieuwe klanten aantrekken;
  • actieve interactie met de klanten aangaan;
  • effectiever communiceren;
  • inkomsten verhogen.

Welke bedrijven zijn customer-centric?


Het zal geen verrassing zijn dat Amazon een rolmodel is voor een customer-centric organisatie ([Ciot14]). Door de jaren heen is Amazon van een virtuele boekwinkel overgegaan op een online webwinkel waar klanten bijna alles kunnen kopen wat hun hartje begeert. De bedrijfsfocus op klantenservice is echter in de loop der jaren niet veranderd. Amazon meet en volgt elke interactie met de klant, in de hoop dat er geen onopgeloste problemen blijven liggen. Een ander opmerkelijk punt is dat Jeff Bezos, CEO van Amazon, altijd een stoel aan zijn conferentietafel leeg laat, om iedereen die aanwezig is eraan te herinneren dat de belangrijkste persoon in de conversatie de klant is. Ook worden er werkmethodes geïmplementeerd om de excellentie in customer experience te behouden, door mensen te belonen die ‘de lat hoog leggen’ voor de organisatie. Daarnaast ontwikkelt Amazon producten die gebaseerd zijn op de wensen en behoeften van de klant, in plaats van de meningen van het development-team. Binnen Amazon heerst een culture of metrics, waarin men routinematig bezig is met het testen van reacties van klanten op verschillende functionaliteiten en het ontwerp van de site.

Hilton Worldwide

Bij de hotelketen Hilton speelt de customerservice een belangrijke rol in het customer-centric zijn ([Ciot14]). Hilton heeft namelijk een team samengesteld dat vragen en opmerkingen via social media beantwoordt binnen een bepaalde tijdsduur, om zo de klanten een betere ervaring te bieden.

United Parcel Service (UPS)

UPS anticipeert via social media op de behoefte van de klant, om zo een betere klantenservice te bieden en de efficiëntie te optimaliseren. Dit heeft geleid tot meer tevreden klanten ([TALK14]). De mogelijkheid om zelf een tijdstip te kiezen wanneer een postpakket bezorgd wordt, is een extra klantgerichte service die dit bedrijf biedt aan haar klanten.


Apple staat bekend als een klantgerichte organisatie ([TALK14]). Zo leest het hogere management ook e-mails van klanten. Daarnaast bootst Apple kenmerken van de horeca na, bijvoorbeeld door het ‘walk in-principe’ in de Genius-bar. Ook zorgt Apple goed voor haar medewerkers, wat weer een (in)directe positieve invloed heeft op de klant.


Carglass heeft in 2009 besloten een van oorsprong commoditymarkt te veranderen, met het doel om klantgerichter te worden ([ICSB09]). Tot de dag van vandaag biedt Carglass een 24/7-service voor klanten die autoruitschade hebben. Daarbij regelt het bedrijf alles met de verzekerings- of leasemaatschappij, om het proces zo eenvoudig mogelijk te houden voor de klant. Tevens biedt Carglass een mobiele reparatieservice aan, waarbij men naar de klant toe gaat om een reparatie uit te voeren.


Indien een organisatie zich meer zou focussen op de context, het gebruik van haar product en een duidelijk beeld heeft van de klant, is de kans groter dat deze een succesvoller product neerzet en een betere customer experience levert.

De voortdurende verandering van de verwachtingen van de klant en het toegenomen koopgedrag in de richting van de digitale en altijd-en-overal-dienstverlening worden alleen maar versneld door de technologische mogelijkheden en de samenwerking tussen verschillende partijen. Om in te spelen op deze veranderingen moeten organisaties in de schoenen van de klant staan bij het ontwerpen en leveren van interacties en ervoor zorgen dat de klantinspanning zo veel mogelijk beperkt wordt, en dat tegelijkertijd de maximale klantwaarde behaald wordt ([Forr16]). Hierbij gaat het niet alleen om focussen op de klant (customer-focused), maar ook om daadwerkelijk begrijpen waar de klant behoefte aan heeft (customer-centric).

Customer-centricity draait niet om het ‘pleasen’ van alle klanten, en al zeker niet op elk moment. Het draait om het concentreren van de aandacht op precies die klantengroep waarvoor de organisatie de meeste waarde kan genereren, en die in ruil daarvoor ook de meeste waarde oplevert voor de organisatie. De stap naar een customer-centric organisatie is geen eenvoudige stap en vergt continue aandacht. Het betekent dat er voortdurend geïnnoveerd en nagedacht moet worden over hoe de organisatie flexibel genoeg is om zich snel te kunnen aanpassen, en tevens kan bieden wat op het juiste moment nodig is. Om een klant centraal te stellen, kunnen aspecten als customer experience, customer value en customer lifecycle worden ingezet. Vervolgens kan er met behulp van het Customer Experience Maturity Model gemeten worden hoe ‘volwassen’ een organisatie is ten opzichte van customer centricity.

Veel bedrijven zijn nog op weg naar meer customer centricity, en het goede nieuws is dat er nog volop ruimte is om zich te ontwikkelen in de verschillende stadia van het Maturity Model. Een uitdaging om meer customer-centric te zijn, is een ideale balans te vinden tussen de eisen en behoeften van de klant en het aanbieden van relevante diensten en producten. Niet iedereen zal even tevreden zijn met deze aanpak, maar indien de customer centricity-benadering goed uitgevoerd wordt, levert dit extra waarde en betekenisvolle klantrelaties, en eventueel een hogere omzet op.


[Ciot14] G. Ciotti, Lessons in Customer Service From the World’s Most Beloved Companies, Entrepreneur, 2014,

[Day03] G.S. Day, Creating a superior customer-relating capability, MIT Sloan Management Review 44 (3), 2003, p. 77.

[Dumi07] L. N. Dumitrescu, Evaluating A Customer-Centric Approach, Management and Marketing Journal 5 (1), 2007, pp. 72-76.

[EY16] EY, Welcome to the ConsumerCustomer centricity – How Insurers Can Heed the Voice of Customers & Embrace Innovation to Drive,, 2016,

[Forr16] Forrester, The 2016 Top 10 Critical Success Factors To Determine Who Wins And Who Fails In The Age Of The Customer, 2016,

[ICSB09] ICSB, Winnaars CRM Awards 2009 voor Carglass en UPC Nederland, 2009,

[Krui16] P. Kruiniger, J. Vanbiervliet, H. Zemni, M. Dusselier, A. Moerdyck, How customer centric is your organisation?,, 2016,

[Limi16] I. Limited, Infosys Consulting – Insights | THE JOURNEY,, 2016,

[LINK03] LinkedIn, Explaining Customer Centricity With a Diagram, 2013,

[Payn05] A. Payne, P. Frow, A strategic framework for customer relationship management, Journal of marketing 69 (4), 2005, pp. 167-176.

[Roek16] E. Roekel, Customer centricity: nog in de kinderschoenen (whitepaper), Marketingfacts, 2016,

[Shah06] D. Shah, R.T. Rust, A. Parasuraman, R. Staelin, G.S. Day, The path to customer centricity, Journal of service research 9 (2), 2006, pp. 113-124.

[TALK14] Talkdesk, Top 10 Customer-Centric Companies of 2014, 2014,

Digitaliseren moet je leren

Digitalisering is een hot topic, in alle branches. Hoewel talrijke digitaliseringsprojecten worden opgestart, lijken deze projecten lang niet altijd op te leveren wat er vooraf van wordt verwacht. Een van de belangrijkste redenen hiervoor is een gebrek aan businessbetrokkenheid. Daarnaast vraagt digitalisering ook een andere manier van denken én werken van de business. Niet alle organisaties zijn in staat om hierin mee te veranderen, met als gevolg dat het eindresultaat van een digitaliseringsproject niet meer is dan een online versie van het papieren proces.


Digitalisering is niet meer weg te denken uit het dagelijks leven. Organisaties in diverse sectoren worden geconfronteerd met klanten die een digitaal 24/7-inkoopkanaal verwachten. Zij willen op ieder moment en op iedere locatie hun eigen gegevens kunnen inzien en wijzigen, advies kunnen vragen en nieuwe diensten kunnen afnemen. Het hebben van een e-mailadres is voor een bedrijf niet meer voldoende. Klanten willen direct antwoord, via sociale media als WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter of LinkedIn.

Om aan deze veranderende behoefte tegemoet te komen, worden digitaliseringsprojecten opgestart, al dan niet vanuit de IT-afdeling, of door een vooruitstrevende manager die van mening is dat het bedrijf mee moet in de vaart der volkeren. Ondanks de beste intenties en ideeën leveren deze digitaliseringsprojecten niet op wat er vooraf van wordt verwacht. Dat uit zich in oplopende kosten van projecten, tegenvallende inkomsten van een nieuw inkoopkanaal of ‘gemiste’ kansen (en dus baten) als het realiseren van procesefficiency. Hoe komt het toch dat slechts weinig organisaties erin slagen om écht een grote stap in een andere richting te zetten door verregaande digitalisering? In dit artikel geven we op basis van onze ervaring en twee praktijkcases een onderbouwing voor onze overtuiging dat digitale projecten, naast uitstekende projectvaardigheden, ook specifieke succesfactoren kennen die vooral betrekking hebben op de betrokkenheid van de business en niet zozeer op technologische uitdagingen:

  1. Klantgericht digital first. Online en zelfservice vereist versimpeling en automatisering van ‘legacy’-processen en -producten, zodanig dat iedere klant zonder hulp zijn/haar weg vindt.
  2. Digitaal talent. Om echt out-of-the-box te denken én te werken is (jong) talent nodig dat zowel klanten als techniek begrijpt en dit kan combineren tot digitale oplossingen voor de organisatie . Dit betekent training, nieuwe vaardigheden leren en wellicht ook nieuwe medewerkers aannemen.
  3. Strategie met digitaal DNA. Eén digitaliseringsproject maakt een organisatie nog geen digitale organisatie. Hiervoor is een langetermijn(business)koers nodig, vertaald naar alle lagen van de organisatie.
  4. Governance gericht op experimenteren. Digitaliseringsprojecten zijn liever klein dan groot. Experimenteren is nodig om erachter te komen wat succesvol is voor zowel klanten als organisatie.
  5. Datakwaliteit op orde. Ambitieuze digitale plannen worden geen succes zonder goede data. Dit geldt voor zowel de kwaliteit als de kwantiteit.


Figuur 1. Succesfactoren voor een digitale transformatie.

Uitdagingen met betrekking tot de organisatie

Snellere paarden

De manier om een verregaande digitaliseringsslag te maken is door afscheid te nemen van oude werkwijzen en een radicaal nieuwe 1) klantgerichte digital first-manier van werken te introduceren. Deze manier van werken dient door klanten zelf, jong en oud, van elk opleidingsniveau, uitgevoerd te kunnen worden. Dit vereist een simpel, en Zalando-achtig modulair productassortiment, eenvoudige processen, een papierloos proces, geen handmatige stappen in de backoffice en retourneren zonder zorgen. Een klantgerichte digital first-benadering kent de volgende eigenschappen:

  • papierloos (scannen mag);
  • intuïtief;
  • meetbaar;
  • geautomatiseerd (indien echt onvermijdelijk, combineer dan de handmatige handelingen tot één snel uit te voeren processtap);
  • eenvoud (in product, proces en niet te vergeten informatie).

Bij een klantgerichte digital first-benadering zit de klant zelf achter de knoppen. Goed ingerichte IT (bijvoorbeeld portal, CRM, workflow) is hierbij een belangrijke hygiënefactor, maar minstens zo belangrijk is de transformatie die de business zelf door kan voeren om haar producten en diensten zó eenvoudig te maken dat klanten zelf de weg erin weten te vinden. Onduidelijkheid leidt tot een telefoontje naar de helpdesk of, in het slechtste geval, tot afhaken van ontevreden klanten.


Figuur 2. Digitalisering komt niet voort uit technologie, maar uit een volledige transformatie.

Het doorvoeren van een digitale transformatie is een taaie klus. Het vervangen van een papieren formulier door een online web form (dat vervolgens ergens uit een printer rolt en wordt opgeslagen in een hangmap) is geen digitalisering. Een frisse blik op de organisatie is nodig, waarbij processen vanaf de basis opnieuw worden opgezet vanuit een digitale klantbenadering, zonder overbodige ‘waste’. Dit is nodig om te voorkomen dat het eindresultaat alleen een sneller paard is en nog steeds geen auto (zoals Henry Ford ooit de ontwikkeling van de T-Ford omschreef). Met technologie alleen, zoals een modern CRM-systeem, wordt een organisatie nog niet digitaal. De iPhone was bijvoorbeeld technologisch niet enorm vernieuwend; het zijn juist de toepassing van de techniek en de mogelijkheden die deze vervolgens te bieden heeft die de iPhone tot een succes hebben gemaakt. Dit vraagt om 2) digitaal talent dat de organisatie en projecten verrijkt met een frisse kijk op de wereld. Hoog opgeleid personeel, met een online gerichte manier van leven, multidisciplinair en zowel jong (opgegroeid in het online tijdperk) als oud (benodigde kennis en ervaring) is nodig om tot vernieuwende oplossingen te komen, waarbij ingesleten patronen worden doorbroken. Digitaliseringsprojecten slagen alleen als er intern muren worden afgebroken, waarbij de dienstverlening wordt opgezet vanuit wat een klant wil, kan én nodig heeft.

De business is de drijvende kracht

ING Nederland heeft recentelijk aangekondigd dat de organisatie zal worden omgebouwd naar het Spotify-model ([ING15]), (zie Figuur 3), waarbij de business zelf achter het stuur zit.


Figuur 3. Spotify-organisatiemodel (KPMG). [Klik op de afbeelding voor een grotere afbeelding]

Toelichting Spotify-model

Dit model is een door Spotify grootschalig toegepaste variant van agile softwareontwikkeling. De theorie hierachter wordt de ‘Teal-organisatie’ genoemd, waarin een verschuiving plaatsvindt van verantwoordelijkheden naar dynamische en zelf-organiserende teams. Dit organisatiemodel gaat uit van transparantie en duidelijkheid, zowel in governance als rollen. Belangrijk hierin is dat er zeer gestructureerd en geordend wordt gewerkt, met duidelijke en transparante regels en processen. Op hoofdlijnen staan de volgende principes centraal:

  • dynamische rollen i.p.v. vaste functiebeschrijvingen;
  • verantwoordelijkheden worden verdeeld binnen de teams;
  • teams zijn zelf-organiserend (niet zelfsturend);
  • beslissingen worden lokaal (binnen de teams) genomen;
  • teams hebben een heldere doelstelling en worden hierop afgerekend;
  • snelle, kortcyclische veranderingen in plaats van grote meerjarige reorganisaties;
  • heldere regels voor alle niveaus, alsmede een vastgestelde governance-structuur en processen.

Dit is slechts een van de weinige voorbeelden van toepassing van het Spotify-model in de bankensector, maar het laat wel zien dat de gehele business en niet langer alleen IT vraagt om nieuwe modellen en een geïntegreerde aanpak. 3) Strategie met digitaal DNA. Digitalisering is een strategische (business)uitdaging geworden en niet slechts een feestje van de IT-afdeling. Het bereiken van klanten en het organiseren van een effectieve productie van goederen of diensten zijn omgeven met allerlei vormen van automatisering en daardoor een strategische uitdaging geworden. Dit zorgt overigens wel weer voor nieuwe uitdagingen, want de praktijk leert dat het blijven geven van prioriteit aan strategische digitale projecten lastig is. De projecten duren vaak lang en de brandjes van alledag blijven soms aantrekkelijk en/of noodzakelijk om te blussen. Bovendien heeft een digitale transformatie niet alleen impact op de IT-organisatie, zoals de behoefte aan meer technologie en personeel om deze in de lucht te houden, maar moet  de gehele business aan de bak om ervoor te zorgen dat de organisatie klaar is voor de digitale werkwijze. Dit wordt niet zomaar door één project gerealiseerd en het vereist permanente kortcyclische prioriteit op strategisch niveau, vertaald naar concrete tactische doelen en operationele verandering. Een digitale transformatie vereist dat digitaal in het DNA van de organisatie wordt vastgelegd. Digitale meerjarenplannen bestaan namelijk niet.

Strategische prioriteit betekent ook dat de beoogde digitale transformatie wordt (uit)gedragen door het (senior) management van de organisatie. Vanwege het innovatieve karakter van digitaliseringsprojecten is het noodzakelijk om een specifieke 4) governance gericht op experimenteren in te richten, die mogelijkheden biedt om nieuwe ideeën uit te proberen en ook weer te beëindigen indien ze niet werken; een soort ‘Google labs’. Randvoorwaarden voor een governance gericht op experimenteren zijn:

  1. kleine deliverables;
  2. hooggekwalificeerde agile-/Spotify-teams;
  3. meten van baten (en stoppen indien niet succesvol);
  4. klanten leveren feedback;
  5. mandaat voor inhoudelijke keuzes laag in de organisatie.

De governance is overigens geen vrijbrief om alle regels, zoals compliance, te breken. De specifieke governance is juist bedoeld om innovatieve ideeën een kans te geven, zonder dat de bureaucratische mantel der liefde alle prille ideeën doodknuffelt. Steeds vaker richten organisaties hun eigen labs in om samen met klanten nieuwe technologie productierijp te maken. Zodra iets aanslaat, kan het klaar gemaakt worden voor serieuze productie.

Wanneer het management echt prioriteit geeft aan experimenteren en de bovengenoemde randvoorwaarden durft in te vullen, wordt IT een enabler en kan digitalisering daadwerkelijk plaatsvinden.


Data zijn hét fundament voor digitalisering. 5) De datakwaliteit op orde hebben en fouteloze data zijn nodig om processen automatisch te laten verlopen. Dit vereist:

  1. masterdatamanagement (bijvoorbeeld datakwaliteit, samenvoegen van klanten in meerdere omgevingen);
  2. datagovernance;
  3. datakwantiteit.

Masterdatamanagement met een (extreem) hoge datakwaliteit is noodzakelijk omdat er in geautomatiseerde processen geen of nauwelijks handmatige controles mogelijk zijn om eventuele fouten tijdens het proces te herstellen. Anderzijds is de kwaliteit van belang, omdat vastgelegde gegevens voor een klant via selfservice volledig transparant inzichtelijk zijn. In veel organisaties vormt de datakwaliteit een uitdaging, omdat bepaalde gegevens simpelweg niet goed zijn vastgelegd en er dubbele (niet-gekoppelde) records voorkomen of simpelweg ontbreken. Indien gegevens vanuit meerdere systemen worden ontsloten, komt hier nog een extra uitdaging bij, namelijk het samenvoegen en onderhouden van gegevens van dezelfde klant in meerdere systemen. Kleine typefouten of verschillen in datadefinities maken het lastig om vast te stellen of Stella Jansen, woonachtig op de Bezuidenhout 25 in Den Haag in het ene systeem, dezelfde persoon is als S. Jansen op de Bezuidenhout 25A in ‘s-Gravenhage in een ander systeem binnen dezelfde organisatie. Waarschijnlijk wel, maar er zit niets anders op dan deze gegevens te analyseren en op elkaar af te stemmen. Up-to-date en correcte data vormen het hart voor digitale communicatie. Indien er tijdens de implementatie van een digitaliseringsproject veel van dergelijke afwijkingen opgeschoond moeten worden, is het aan te bevelen om een aparte werkstroom in te richten die de datakwaliteit op orde brengt en een betrouwbare datagovernance inricht die onder andere datadefinities, aantoonbare data-integriteit en business rules structureel borgt binnen de organisatie.

De beschikbaarheid van klantgegevens, de datakwantiteit, vormt de derde uitdaging voor (klant)data. De marketingambities van voornamelijk salesprocessen zijn vaak torenhoog. Organisaties willen communiceren via Twitter, een archief van alle klantcommunicatie bijhouden en een 360 graden klantbeeld creëren, inclusief een link naar het Facebook- en LinkedIn-profiel van de klant om deze nog beter te begrijpen, diens gezinssituatie te kunnen ondersteunen met ‘major events’ en de dienstverlening hiervoor te optimaliseren.

Zeker in relatie tot het vorige punt, het up-to-date brengen en houden van gegevens, is het verzamelen van deze gegevens een uitdaging. Want als de basisgegevens een beperkte kwaliteit hebben, hoe zijn dan de social­mediaprofielen van een klant betrouwbaar te bepalen? Beperk dus deze ambitie en zorg ervoor dat de gegevens die wél beschikbaar zijn van goede kwaliteit zijn. Dit vereist opschoning van de gegevens en borging van de kwaliteit door een pragmatische masterdatamanagementfunctie in te richten. Het verzamelen van meer klantgegevens is een vervolgstap die op basis van experimenteren daadwerkelijk tot toegevoegde waarde kan leiden.


In de tekstkaders zijn twee van onze projecten opgenomen die de adviezen uit dit artikel onderbouwen vanuit de praktijk.

Case 1: Backofficevernieuwing bij een retailverzekeraar

Organisatie 1, een financiële dienstverlener gericht op retailverzekeringen, heeft eerdere pogingen om een legacybackofficesysteem te vervangen zien stranden. Het gevolg is dat de organisatie in het huidige tijdperk nog steeds gebruikmaakt van veel papier en een legacysysteem dat is ontwikkeld voordat het internet zelfs werd uitgevonden. Doordat de markt voor retailverzekeringen prijsgedreven is, is er de noodzaak om kosten te verlagen door een hoge mate van automatisering. Veel concurrenten lopen voor op dit vlak en kunnen producten sneller en volledig geautomatiseerd online aanbieden. Om een verregaande modernisering te realiseren is een systeem van een Nederlandse leverancier gekozen. Bovendien zijn op basis van de lessen uit het verleden maatregelen genomen om het programma te versterken. De belangrijkste eigenschapen van het project zijn:

  1. De projectomvang is groter dan twintig miljoen euro.
  2. Er is een kleine stuurgroep voor alleen dit programma samengesteld, met daarin de betrokken directieleden. Ook de leverancier neemt deel aan deze stuurgroep.
  3. Er worden werkstromen ingericht voor migratie, infrastructuur, businessimplementatie en systeeminrichting.
  4. Een operationeel manager is vrijgespeeld om leiding te geven aan de business change-werkstroom binnen het programma. De manager kreeg als opdracht mee om met zo min mogelijk maatwerk in de nieuwe IT-oplossing de bestaande processen te standaardiseren, te versimpelen en binnen de organisatie te implementeren. De manager kwam rechtstreeks van de werkvloer en had daardoor veel inhoudelijke kennis, aangevuld met een goed conceptueel vermogen. Zowel op de werkvloer als binnen het bestuur is er respect voor en vertrouwen in de manager en zijn team. De implementatie vindt in eerste instantie plaats op basis van een greenfield-aanpak. De bestaande organisatie werd naar deze greenfield toe gemigreerd. Het voordeel hiervan is dat de nieuwe processen bewezen konden worden en de kinderziektes eruit gehaald konden worden, zonder dat dit impact had op de grote volumes van de bestaande organisatie. Een ander voordeel is dat de organisatie kon wennen aan de nieuwe processen; er werden zo ‘ambassadeurs’ voor de nieuwe werkwijze gecreëerd. De verandering verliep niet ineens gemakkelijk, maar de initiële business change is bij dit programma succesvol verlopen.

Negen maanden na de start van het project is de eerste gemigreerde portefeuille in productie genomen.

Lessons learned

  1. De grote mate van businessbetrokkenheid in zowel de stuurgroep als het project (o.a. de operationele manager) zorgde voor een goede inbedding van de oplossing in de organisatie.
  2. Gedurende het project ontstond een duidelijke behoefte aan digitaal talent. Het kostte veel tijd om dit talent te vinden, waardoor de organisatie afhankelijk bleef van kostbare inhuur.
  3. De keuze om met een greenfield te starten verkleinde de implementatie, verminderde hierdoor de druk op het project en zorgde voor een innovatieve omgeving.
  4. De online (marketing)plannen waren groot, de beschikbaarheid (kwantiteit) van data zorgde er echter voor dat niet alle online plannen te realiseren waren.
  1. Klantgericht digital first. Bij beide cases vereiste de transformatie van papieren processen naar een digitale selfserviceomgeving een fundamenteel herontwerp van de organisatie, waarbij de complexiteit werd gereduceerd, zodat de klanten zelf achter de knoppen zitten. Het is vooral de business die hier een belangrijke ‘enabler’ is. Organisatie 1 heeft hier specifiek gemandateerde resources voor vrijgemaakt op managementniveau.
  2. Digitaal talent. Zowel organisatie 1 als organisatie 2 had grote moeite om digitaal talent te vinden. Beide cases tonen aan dat de noodzaak hiervoor bij aanvang van een transformatie onderkend dient te worden, zodat gestart kan worden met de selectie, opleiding en eventuele werving van digitaal talent. De perifere locatie van beide organisaties hielp niet mee; toegang tot een technische hogeschool, universiteit of partner draagt uiteraard bij aan een goede beschikbaarheid van talent.
  3. Strategie met digitaal DNA. Beide organisaties tonen aan dat één project een organisatie nog niet digitaal maakt. Zeker bij organisatie 2 ontbrak de concrete vertaling van de nieuwe doelstellingen naar tactisch en operationeel niveau. Hierdoor duurde het langer voordat de verandering werd opgepakt, de business het eigenaarschap naar zich toe trok en de organisatie klaar was om de opgeleverde (en kostbare) IT in gebruik te nemen.
  4. Governance gericht op experimenteren. De aanpak van organisatie 1 laat zien dat het creëren van een ‘greenfield’-omgeving helpt om belangrijke projecten kleiner te maken en de innovatie kans te geven zich te laten ontwikkelen voordat deze in de hele organisatie wordt uitgerold. Bovendien kreeg het samengestelde team zo een grote verantwoordelijkheid en bevoegdheid. Dit zorgde voor een snelle en pragmatische aanpak. De meer traditionele aanpak van organisatie 2 met centrale aansturing, waarbij de oplossing na oplevering vrijwel direct over de gehele organisatie wordt uitgerold, zorgde er juist voor dat de kinderziektes binnen de gehele organisatie merkbaar waren. Ook was de centrale besluitvorming stroperig, doordat de afstand tot de werkvloer te groot was.
  5. Datakwaliteit op orde. Data bleken voor beide organisaties een struikelblok. Bij organisatie 1 lag de ambitie hoger dan er aan data beschikbaar waren, terwijl de datakwaliteit geen probleem vormde. Het verkrijgen van data die voor de business relevant zijn, maar voor een klant niet veel toevoegt, zoals Facebook-pagina’s, blijkt in de praktijk commercieel interessant, maar moeilijk te realiseren. Organisatie 2 toont aan dat datakwaliteit een belangrijke showstopper kan zijn voor vergaande digitalisering.

Case 2: Introductie mobiele betaal-app en CRM bij een kleine internationale bank

Organisatie 2 is, net als organisatie 1, een kleine traditionele financiële dienstverlener, voornamelijk gericht op de retailmarkt en gebruikmakend van een legacy-mainframesysteem. Veel processen vereisen handmatige acties en alle communicatie verloopt via papier. Bovendien zijn er naast online bankieren weinig mogelijkheden om online of via een callcenter serviceprocessen uit te voeren. Het is voor klanten meestal noodzakelijk om naar het kantoor te gaan. Omdat dit traditionele model onder druk staat, heeft de bank de keuze gemaakt om te veranderen in een moderne bank met een sterk online kanaal, waarbij processen en papieren documenten zo veel mogelijk worden vervangen door online selfservice. Om dit voor elkaar te krijgen, is een combinatie van BizTalk, CRM/workflow, webportal en mobiele apps geselecteerd die bovenop het mainframesysteem wordt geïmplementeerd. Anderhalf jaar na de start van het project is de eerste fase in productie gegaan. De belangrijkste eigenschappen hiervan zijn:

  1. De projectomvang is groter dan drie miljoen euro.
  2. Het primaire eigenaarschap ligt bij de IT-manager.
  3. Er is één centrale stuurgroep waarin het gehele management van de organisatie alle projecten behandelt en (inhoudelijke) besluiten neemt. Leveranciers zijn geen onderdeel van deze stuurgroep.
  4. Er is een projectteam met interne medewerkers, ondersteund door meerdere softwareleveranciers.
  5. De werkstromen zijn IT, processen, webdesign en businessimplementatie, later uitgebreid met meer specialistische werkstromen, zoals opleiding, marketing en go live-voorbereiding.
  6. De IT-complexiteit neemt fors toe doordat naast het bestaande mainframe meerdere applicaties worden geïntroduceerd.

Lessons learned

  1. De centrale stuurgroep zorgde voor lange doorlooptijden van besluiten, wat weinig ruimte gaf om te experimenteren. De afstand tot het project was simpelweg te groot en het mandaat te beperkt.
  2. Op strategisch niveau was besloten om te digitaliseren, maar de werkvloer was zich onvoldoende bewust van de consequenties daarvan. De vertaling naar wat het voor de organisatie betekent om digitaal te werken, bijvoorbeeld door een uitwerking van digitale klantreizen, benodigde vaardigheden en visionairs, ontbrak.
  3. De datakwaliteit was voldoende voor offline processen, maar voor geautomatiseerde online processen was zowel de kwaliteit als de kwantiteit onvoldoende. Extra handmatige stappen moesten worden ingebouwd om de data te controleren en te verrijken. Er is een parallel project gestart om de datakwaliteit en -kwantiteit alsnog op niveau te krijgen.
  4. De organisatie onderkende de noodzaak van nieuw digitaal talent vrij laat en had vervolgens moeite om in eerste instantie vooral hoogopgeleid IT-talent aan te trekken. Dit zorgde ervoor dat er een grote afhankelijkheid was van extern ingehuurde experts.
  5. De scope van dit project was vrij groot (ongeveer drie miljoen euro). Er werd een aanpak gekozen om het meest complexe onderdeel als eerste op te pakken. Achteraf was een stapsgewijze aanpak beter geweest, om de organisatie aan de verandering te laten wennen en ook geen momentum te verliezen door een lange interne focus. Bovendien is de voortgang van een project met kleine deliverables beter te meten.


Hoe komt het toch dat slechts weinig organisaties erin slagen om écht een grote stap in een andere richting te zetten door verregaande digitalisering? Met deze vraag begon dit artikel. Op basis van onze ervaring en twee praktijkcases zijn vijf factoren geïdentificeerd die er, naast goede projectvaardigheden, voor zorgen dat digitale projecten een succes worden. Alle vijf factoren richten zich niet zozeer op IT, maar op de verantwoordelijkheid van de business om (samen met IT) complexiteit te reduceren, een klimaat te creëren voor innovatie in alle lagen van de organisatie, noodzakelijk talent aan te trekken en data op orde te hebben.

Waar kunt u morgen mee starten?

  • Analyseer de bestaande processen grondig. Wat is de toegevoegde waarde van een bepaalde stap, waar zit de ‘waste’?
  • Stel een gerespecteerde en gemandateerde vertegenwoordiger van de business aan.
  • Zorg ervoor dat het project gedreven wordt vanuit de business en niet vanuit de IT.
  • Zorg ervoor dat de juiste mensen met de juiste skills aangetrokken worden voor de nieuwe manier van werken.
  • Breng klant- en andere gegevens up-to-date.
  • Beperk de ambitie tot klantgegevens die wel beschikbaar zijn.
  • Houd het klein en experimenteer in een geïsoleerde omgeving (greenfield).


[Bokk15] I. Bökkerink en L. Willems, ING-personeel werkt voortaan in ‘squads”, Het Financieele Dagblad, 16 oktober 2015,

[Koot14] William J.D. Koot en Jochem Pasman, ‘One IT’ volgt uit ‘One Company’; en niet andersom,, 2014,

[Pens15] I. Pensa, M. van Duren, J.W. van Houwelingen en T.P. Broekhuizen, IT als breekijzer voor digitalisering bij financiële instellingen, Compact 2015/1.

Anatomie van een datagedreven zorgverzekeraar

Digitalisering grijpt in de hele samenleving om zich heen en zorgt ook voor een nieuwe realiteit bij zorgverzekeraars. Coöperatie VGZ wilde krachtig en flexibel anticiperen op de digitalisering en realiseerde zich dat de organisatie van de IT-functie daartoe op de schop moest. Er was meer nodig dan een paar pleisters plakken op de huidige organisatie, er was een reset nodig om future proof te worden. Twee jaar later staat de divisie Data Care volgens CIO Jan Peter de Valk als een huis en heeft er een kleine revolutie plaatsgevonden. Een analyse van de transformatie.


In 2014 constateert Coöperatie VGZ op basis van een benchmark van KPMG dat de IT-functie – afgezet tegen organisaties met een gelijkwaardig complexiteitsprofiel – weliswaar een kwalitatief hoog niveau heeft, maar ook dat matig wordt gescoord ten aanzien van zowel de ontwikkelsnelheid als de hoogte van de kosten. De benchmark is dan ook aanleiding tot het formuleren van verbeterplannen. Op ongeveer hetzelfde moment start De Valk als nieuwe CIO. Gaandeweg groeit het besef dat de echte uitdaging niet (alleen) is om de IT-functie sneller en goedkoper in te richten, maar ook dat er een grotere wezensvraag op tafel ligt.


Die wezensvraag is niet los te zien van de maatschappelijke trend van digitalisering. Digitaal is het nieuwe normaal geworden en dat brengt ook in de zorg grote veranderingen met zich mee op vrijwel alle denkbare terreinen, van klantcommunicatie tot fraudedetectie. Wat daarmee ook duidelijk is: een zorgverzekeraar moet flexibel zijn en zich moeiteloos kunnen aanpassen aan hoe de (digitale) wereld zich ontwikkelt. Een zorgverzekeraar moet zich daarom ontwikkelen tot een digital enterprise. De Valk: ‘Blauwdrukken van de toekomst – en daarmee van de benodigde informatietechnologie – zijn er niet meer. Er is meer sprake van een permanente ontdekkingstocht en dat vergt meer flexibiliteit dan veel organisaties momenteel aankunnen. Dat is in de praktijk te zien bij tal van digitaliseringsvraagstukken.’

De potentiële mogelijkheden van nieuwe technologie zien er op de tekentafel geweldig uit maar blijken in de praktijk nogal eens stuk te lopen op starre processen en routines. Van oorsprong zijn systemen gebaseerd op een hiërarchische verspreiding van informatie. In de externe omgeving is echter sprake van dynamische netwerken van informatie. Dat begint steeds meer te botsen en vraagt om een andere aanpak.

De klassieke watervalaanpak van projecten biedt in die nieuwe wereld geen goede oplossingen omdat deze te star en te langzaam is. Agile ontwikkelvormen waarbij iteratief in korte sprints wordt gewerkt aan toepassingen, bieden meer soelaas. Maar alleen werken met agile methoden is niet voldoende. Een dergelijke aanpak staat of valt met een zeer nauwe betrokkenheid vanuit de gebruikersorganisatie en met multidisciplinaire teams (MDT’s) die een vrij grote handelingsvrijheid hebben.

Multidisciplinaire teams

Ziedaar de kern van het nieuwe organisatiemodel van de IT-functie van VGZ. Onder de door De Valk rigoureus ingevoerde vlag Data Care – daarover later meer – is de klassieke hiërarchische structuur ingeruild voor een netwerkachtige organisatie. Een en ander doet denken aan hoe ontwikkelaars samenwerken bij de streaming-muziekservice Spotify. In zogeheten squads werken specialisten met verschillende kennis autonoom aan een bepaald aspect, maar die autonomie krijgen ze alleen als ze in het grote geheel passen. In de woorden van Spotify: ‘squads are loosely coupled, but tightly aligned‘. Met andere woorden: er is geen organisatorisch ‘harkje’ meer, maar er zijn wel keiharde afspraken over het gezamenlijke doel. Die afspraken gaan dan bijvoorbeeld over de rol die het bedrijf wil spelen en hoe de interfaces tussen de teams worden geregeld.

VGZ spreekt niet van squads maar van MDT’s. Irma Jepma, manager Business Management: ‘Teams die samenwerken rondom een bepaald aspect: een specifieke applicatie of een set van samenhangende applicaties. Deze specialisten van diverse pluimage – softwareontwikkelaars, informatieanalisten, testers, beheerders – kennen elkaar goed, juist omdat ze zo veel samenwerken, en daarom is er sprake van een krachtige en efficiënte werkwijze.’

Daarnaast zijn er Product Owners – sterke communicators – die het eerste aanspreekpunt zijn voor de wensen vanuit de organisatie. Zij managen verwachtingen en prioriteren behoeften. In figuur 1 is grafisch – in de vorm van een amoebe, een eencellig diertje dat voortdurend van vorm verandert – weergegeven hoe deze organisatievorm eruitziet.


Figuur 1. De organisatievorm van Data Care (bron: VGZ).

Ontwerp van de organisatie

Figuur 1 laat zien dat er vijf essentiële pijlers binnen Data Care zijn te onderscheiden:

  1. Business Management vertaalt de verandervraag van VGZ naar opdrachten voor
  2. ICT Services en
  3. Business Intelligence Services,

daarbij actief bijgestaan door

  1. Enterprise Architectuur en
  2. Digital Cooperation.

Data Care voedt de organisatie ook actief met ideeën, mogelijkheden en innovaties voor de transitie naar een digitale verzekeraar en doet dat waar gewenst ook met ketenpartners en leveranciers. Als ‘goed huisvader’ streeft Data Care naar verantwoorde veranderingen in de huidige bedrijfsvoering, maar daarnaast worden samen met de divisies innovatieve kansen geïdentificeerd, zodat de strategische doelstellingen van VGZ worden gerealiseerd.

Belangrijke nieuwe rollen zijn die van Enterprise Architect en in de MDT’s die van Product Owner en Scrummaster. De Data Care-leveringsketen wordt ondersteund vanuit het proces ‘verandering leveren’. Dit proces omvat alle stappen – vanaf het moment dat de medewerkers van het Business Team een verandervraag ophalen in de business tot en met het moment dat een verandering wordt geïmplementeerd binnen Technisch Beheer. De MDT’s vormen het leverende hart van de organisatie, zowel medewerkers van Architectuur als van Technisch Applicatie Beheer draaien voor een deel van hun tijd mee in de MDT’s. Vanuit het Business Team worden de verandervragen van de business samen met de MDT’s vertaald naar werkpakketten.

Geen vrijheid, blijheid

De Valk: ‘De afbeelding van een amoebe zou wellicht de indruk kunnen wekken dat er geen duidelijke regie in de ontwikkeling is of wellicht zelfs dat er sprake is van “vrijheid, blijheid”. Dit is geenszins het geval. Als zorgverzekeraar heeft VGZ een reputatie hoog te houden en een van de uitgangspunten van deze operatie was dan ook dat er een beheerste transitie moet plaatsvin den. ‘In control’ zijn is en blijft essentieel.’

Een organisatiecultuur waarin mensen hun verantwoordelijkheden nemen en ook actief worden aangesproken op hun verantwoordelijkheden is een van de belangrijkste voorwaarden. Er ontstaat geen ‘vrijheid, blijheid’ doordat er ook vanuit de bedrijfswaarden van VGZ aandacht voor dit aspect is. Waar nodig wordt training en coaching ingezet. De meeste medewerkers zijn blij met de gekozen richting en er zijn ook mensen die ervoor hebben gekozen hun loopbaan elders voort te zetten.

In zo’n cultuur gedijt de Lean-methodiek goed. VGZ heeft deze methodiek consequent doorgevoerd in de vorm van een cascade van op elkaar aansluitende wekelijkse bordsessies per team. Hierdoor blijft het overzicht behouden en is onderlinge aansluiting van werkzaamheden goed geborgd. Problemen worden in stukjes gehakt en er wordt continu gewerkt aan oplossingen. Dit voorkomt escalatie of uitloop.


Belangrijke criteria voor het ontwerp van de nieuwe organisatie waren onder meer:

  • Het ontwerp geeft invulling aan de bedrijfswaarden van VGZ en draagt daarmee bij aan de missie.
  • Het ontwerp stoelt op MDT’s en daarnaast op het borgen van competentiegerichte zaken.
  • De focus van het ontwerp ligt op ‘business outcome’; hierdoor wordt de time-to-market geoptimaliseerd.
  • Het ontwerp maakt het mogelijk om zo kortcyclisch mogelijk te werken.
  • Het ontwerp reduceert verspilling zoals rework, onnodige stappen in processen en onnodig overleg.
  • Het ontwerp is consistent in de keten; de kwaliteit van de processen maakt risicobeheersing mogelijk.
  • Het ontwerp is transformeerbaar in die zin dat mensen meekunnen.
  • Het ontwerp leidt niet tot extra overhead in de aansturing, eerder tot minder.

Achteraf gezien klinkt zo’n model volstrekt logisch. En het werkt ook uitstekend: de interne klanttevredenheid stijgt gaandeweg. Data Care wordt als een servicegerichte unit gezien en bovendien is er sprake van een grote besparing omdat het aantal medewerkers met een kwart is afgenomen ten opzichte van het klassieke model.

Wat was ervoor nodig om naar zo’n model toe te groeien? Hieronder gaan we in op een aantal belangrijke kenmerken van de transitie.


Een belangrijke eerste stap is het werken aan bewustzijn. Zo stak een team van VGZ zijn licht op bij diverse andere organisaties, waaronder ING en, om te zien hoe en waarom anderen hun organisatie op de schop nemen. Daaruit blijkt dat het succes van nieuwe technologie niet wordt bepaald door de technologie, maar door de manier waarop mensen en organisaties de mogelijkheden van nieuwe technologie kunnen absorberen.

De Valk: ‘Ook het voorheen zogenoemde Corporate Informatie Beleid werd in een intensieve externe tweedaagse pressure cooker met alle betrokkenen grondig herzien en aan de tijd aangepast met 2020 als stip op de horizon. Dit creëerde het nodige bewustzijn over de razendsnel veranderende wereld.’


Daarnaast is het ook van belang dat de hele organisatie begrijpt waarom een andere omgang met data essentieel is voor de toekomst van een zorgverzekeraar. Voor dat doel werd onder meer een inspirerend en realistisch filmpje gemaakt dat niets aan duidelijkheid te wensen overliet over het (klant)belang van een veilige, betrouwbare omgang met data. Dit filmpje werd VGZ-breed gedeeld en toegelicht in speciale sessies. Dan wordt ook direct duidelijk dat in zo’n wereld het klassieke demand-supplymodel van IT niet meer volstaat. De IT-functie moet primair zijn ingericht als serviceverlenende unit. Vandaar dat alle expliciet servicegerichte bedrijfsonderdelen nu ook het woord ‘Service’ in hun naam voeren.

What’s in a name?

De naamgeving van de unit is in de communicatie een niet te onderschatten factor. Data Care straalt uit dat het gaat om een heel andere insteek dan de conventionele focus van een IT-functie. Het gaat erom dat data worden verzameld en ingezet op allerlei nuttige manieren. Data moeten dus – op een verantwoorde manier – vrijheid krijgen en daarmee waarde kunnen krijgen in het gebruik en in het realiseren van zinnige en betaalbare zorg. En ten slotte gaat het om Zorg = Care.

Organische veranderaanpak

Het nieuwe organisatiemodel is organisch ontstaan en dat was voor een aantal betrokkenen best spannend. Alle bestaande structuren – en grenzen van afdelingen – werden losgelaten om in vrijheid te kunnen werken aan een nieuw model. Onder andere een strakke planning en een door alle blijvende managers gedeelde implementatiefilosofie bleken cruciale succesfactoren.

Focus, focus, focus

Verandering gaat niet vanzelf en vergt cultuurverandering. De sleutel daarbij was het consistent vasthouden aan uitgangspunten en die uitgangspunten zo simpel mogelijk houden. Daarmee bouw je gaandeweg aan een cultuurverandering. En er ontstaat trots: mensen hebben het gevoel onderdeel van de business te zijn in plaats van weggestopt te zijn in de spreekwoordelijke kelder. ‘De regel van drie’ van De Valk stelt daarbij dat je nooit meer dan drie dingen tegelijk doet door keuzes te maken en prioriteiten te stellen.


Hoe zagen de tijdslijnen van het implementatietraject eruit op hoofdlijnen? Nadat het directieteam ruim de tijd had genomen om de functionele eenheden van de organisatie op hoofdlijnen te bepalen – ruim een half jaar – gaf een grote groep medewerkers onder leiding van Jepma vorm en inhoud aan deze functionele eenheden. Ook dit traject nam ongeveer een half jaar in beslag. Vervolgens is alles vertaald naar een organisatiestructuur als basis voor het formele proces van besluitvorming. De big-bangimplementatie op 1 januari 2016 is in een half jaar voorbereid. Jepma: ‘De kracht van de succesvolle implementatie schuilt erin dat we al voor 1 januari veel tijd hebben besteed aan het “op stoom krijgen” van het nieuwe management en de medewerkers. Belangrijke middelen waren een filmpje, een tweedaagse pressure-cookersessie waarin het nieuwe management de nieuwe werkwijze – deels visueel – heeft doorleefd, games met medewerkers, nieuwsbrieven voor medewerkers, een informatiekrant voor de business en een klankbordgroep met de business.’

Lessons learned

Terugkijkend op het traject tot nu toe zijn er ook enkele lessen te destilleren uit de ervaringen (die ook nu nog worden opgedaan). In het kort:

  • Zwaar inzetten op Product Owners vanuit de business en het opleiden van Product Owners.
  • Het is belangrijk om kleine hapklare brokken te maken en snel te verwerken binnen het grotere geheel en de verantwoordelijkheid te nemen voor het koppelvlak.
  • Denken in kleine stappen om naar een doel te komen is een grote omslag die veel begeleiding vraagt van IT, maar ook van de business.
  • Onderschat het belang van de hele keten niet – van de business door Data Care naar de business; alle spelers moeten denken in kleine stappen.

Tot slot

De wereld van de zorgverzekeraars staat voor een grote uitdaging in een veranderend landschap. De taak is om samen betaalbare en goede zorg te garanderen in een omgeving die in rap tempo verandert. VGZ zet met de transformatie van de IT-functie een belangrijke stap. De Valk: ‘De medewerkers van Digital Cooperation zijn alert op nieuwe kansen en mogelijkheden in de markt en vertalen deze naar kansen voor VGZ. Vanuit Digital Cooperation moet de transformatie van VGZ naar digital enterprise als geheel worden aangejaagd. Ook VGZ is dus nog niet “klaar”.’

Niemand kan in de toekomst kijken, maar het ligt in de lijn der verwachting dat we gaan naar organisaties die langs heel andere lijnen zijn ingericht. Bij Spotify en ING worden teams/tribes gevormd langs de lijn van producten of groepen klanten. Jepma: ‘Het is niet ondenkbaar dat meer en meer ook de klant aan tafel zit.’ Tot slot De Valk: ‘Het gaat om “verbinding in vrijheid” en dat de grens tussen business/IT rond data vervaagt.’

Het belang van dienend leiderschap bij IT-transformaties

Bijna alle IT-gedreven transformaties maken, vanuit de belofte voor het behalen van een hogere success rate, gebruik van een agile voortbrengingsproces. Om de vruchten van deze agile aanpak daadwerkelijk te plukken, is het van belang alle zaadjes te planten die bijdragen aan het mogelijke succes. Een van de zaadjes voor succes is de dominante leiderschapsstijl binnen projecten en programma’s: dienend leiderschap. In dit artikel gaan we in op het waarom van dienend leiderschap en wat dat met zich meebrengt. Ook gaan we in op de betekenis van dienend leiderschap vanuit een controlperspectief.

De adoptie van het agile/Scrum-gedachtegoed en de agile/Scrum-werkwijze betekent onder andere de introductie van zelfsturende teams, een term die de meer cynische leider of controller vaak de wenkbrauwen doet fronsen. In dit artikel gaan we dan ook in op de preferente leiderschapsstijl bij agile/Scrum. Tevens komt aan bod wat dit betekent vanuit een management-controlperspectief.

Introductie agile/Scrum

Het laatste decennium zijn agile ontwikkelmethoden zoals Scrum, waarbij nauwe samenwerking tussen business en IT-teams centraal staat, steeds meer in opkomst en zijn deze gemeengoed geworden binnen het domein van softwareontwikkeling. De voordelen van een agile manier van werken en de successen die hiermee de afgelopen jaren worden geboekt, zijn ook op C-niveau niet onopgemerkt gebleven. Daarmee is ‘agile at scale’ (grotere projecten verdeeld over meerdere teams) een hot item geworden dat niet alleen meer thuishoort op de agenda van de CIO, maar ook steeds meer op de agenda van de CEO. Deze trend beperkt zich ook niet meer tot het IT-domein, maar doet zich ook voor in andere sectoren, zoals retail ([McFa08]) en onderwijs ([Soli13]), en bijvoorbeeld ook binnen Legal-afdelingen ([Agil12]).

Het leeuwendeel van de ontwikkelorganisaties geeft aan steeds vaker en op grotere schaal te ‘scrummen’ ([Vers15]). Door ook beheerorganisaties verder in het proces te betrekken (DevOps) ontstaat een nog nauwere samenwerkingsrelatie die de snelheid en wendbaarheid ten goede moet komen. Ten aanzien van traditionele methoden (op project- en programmamanagement gestoelde methoden zoals PRINCE2, MSP en PMBOK) nemen agile methoden in toenemende mate een leidende positie in.

De belangrijkste redenen om te transformeren naar een agile organisatie zijn evident: het sneller kunnen inspelen op veranderende (markt)omstandigheden is voor veel organisaties een noodzakelijke voorwaarde geworden om sneller resultaat te boeken en daarmee de kans om te overleven te vergroten. Door kleine, zelforganiserende en multidisciplinaire teams nauw te laten samenwerken met de business kunnen meetbaar betere resultaten worden geboekt ten opzichte van een traditionele aanpak (ook wel watervalmethode genoemd). Het frequent opleveren van een resultaat (werkende software) voorkomt daarnaast in belangrijke mate het mislukken van projecten. Verder sturen deze ontwikkelmethoden aan op een grote mate van zelforganiserend vermogen van het ontwikkelteam, wat ook de motivatie van de betrokken teamleden aanzienlijk verhoogt, en dat is merkbaar in het resultaat.

Waar veel organisaties met een relatief klein aantal grotendeels onafhankelijke teams begonnen, wordt nu in toenemende mate ‘agile at scale’ toegepast, bijvoorbeeld bij ([West14]). Grote projecten worden opgeknipt en over meerdere agile teams verdeeld, zodat zo veel mogelijk van het succes van het werken in kleine teams behouden blijft. Om voldoende snelheid te kunnen blijven maken vereist dit niet alleen een agile mindset door de gehele organisatie, maar ook een andere inrichting van projecten en programma’s én een andere manier van aansturing die hierop aansluit. Een andere vorm van leiderschap is hierbij noodzakelijk.

Wat is leiderschap binnen agile?

Vanuit een leiderschapsperspectief verandert de stijl die past bij een agile manier van werken fundamenteel. De tijden dat de manager met Gantt-charts zijn project bestierde zijn voorbij. Bottom-up planning, zelfsturing en commitment zijn de nieuwe maat. Populair gezegd: ‘Blaffen werkt niet meer, inspireren wel.’

Als men, vandaag de dag, de definitie van ‘managen’ opzoekt op het internet), komen bijvoorbeeld de volgende omschrijvingen terug ([Bete16]:


het aansturen van anderen bij het uitvoeren van taken die bijdragen aan het bereiken van de doelstellingen van de organisatie op de meest effectieve en efficiënte wijze.


ww. 1 leiden, leidinggeven, besturen, beheren; 2 klaarspelen, rooien, voor elkaar krijgen

Sleutelwoorden in beide definities zijn het aansturen (van anderen) en het vervullen van taken die bijdragen aan het bereiken van de gedefinieerde doelstellingen. Management, waaronder de projectmanager, is een hulpmiddel om vanuit een groep werknemers een bepaald resultaat te verkrijgen.

Bezien van uit de traditionele projectmanager werkt dit als volgt:

‘Ik heb een project dat uitgevoerd moet worden. Als manager werk ik uit wat we moeten bereiken om het project te voltooien. Ik zet hierbij, op basis van mijn ervaring en eventuele best practices uit de industrie, de route uit en betrek de meest geschikte mensen, op basis van kwaliteiten en interesses. Ik verdeel het werk op basis van de kwaliteiten van mensen en zorg ervoor dat zij het werk starten, goed uitvoeren en opleveren. Achteraf controleer ik de kwaliteit van het opgeleverde werk. Kortom, ik coördineer alle stukjes van de puzzel en zorg ervoor dat alles bij elkaar past.’

Deze denkwijze staat haaks op de zienswijze van agile ontwikkelmethoden zoals Scrum. Deze methoden gaan uit van managen vanuit het (ontwikkel)team zelf: de kern van Scrum is een multidisciplinair en zelfsturend team dat gezamenlijk het project oppakt. Iedereen is betrokken bij het plannen van het werk, het verdelen van de taken en het benoemen van eventuele blokkades. Daarbij gaat Scrum ervan uit dat de hiervoor benodigde randvoorwaarden, zoals mandaat en benodigde kennis in het team zelf, ingevuld zijn.

De bovenstaande zienswijze roept al snel de vraag op of de rol van de leider dan niet langer bestaat. Naar onze mening is dat niet het geval. De rol van de leider, en de titel die daarbij hoort, verandert slechts.

Anders dan de term ‘zelfsturend’ doet vermoeden is bij grootschalige en complexe IT-gedreven transformaties een fulltime leider nog steeds bittere noodzaak. Zeker wanneer de complexiteit van proces en product toeneemt, is er nog steeds grote behoefte aan een leider die zich richt op de complexe cross-functionele vraagstukken waar meerdere teams bij betrokken zijn. Afhankelijk van de specifieke context en wijze waarop een organisatie is ingericht, heet deze leider de Chief Engineer, Chief Product Owner, Project Manager, Programma Manager, Über Scrum Master, Release Train Engineer, Chaos Pilot, Road Manager, Zen Master, Coordinator, Driver, Project Coach, Catalyst, om maar een paar voorbeelden te noemen. Het spreekt voor zich dat deze leider gemotiveerd, toegewijd en competent moet zijn.

De lijst met activiteiten van deze leider varieert en heeft betrekking op onder andere het ontwikkelen en uitdragen van een visie en doelstelling en de grenzen daarvan, maar ook het organiseren van het werk, het organiseren van het leren en feedback(mechanismen), ervoor zorg dragen dat iedereen de ‘big picture’ in het vizier houdt, et cetera. Niet al deze taken worden door de leider zelf opgepakt, maar de kern van de leiderschapsstijl is dat de leider zijn tijd spendeert aan het creëren van een context waarbinnen het voor de ontwikkelteams mogelijk is om de juiste dingen te doen. In de praktijk betekent dit veelal faciliteren, aanmoedigen, discussiëren, uitdagen, meetings organiseren, visualiseren, koffiedrinken, et cetera. Kortom, de leider in een agile context is veel meer een dienend leider, een die handelt in het belang van het bedrijf, de medewerkers én de klanten ([Rood14]).

Nog even ten aanzien van het begrip zelfsturing. Zelfsturend zijn betekent niet dat de teams zonder coördinatiemechanisme werken. Sterker nog, juist binnen een agile context is goede afstemming, zowel binnen als over teams, van belang. Binnen agile teams is het dominante coördinatiemechanisme niet zozeer de leider, maar de ‘dialoog’ tussen de teamleden onderling én met de leider over de waarde die geleverd moet worden en de wijze waarop dat gebeurt. De dialoog concentreert zich op de inhoud die als zodanig zingevend moet zijn.

Zoals gezegd betekent werken volgens de agile/Scrum-methode niet dat de rol van de leider dan niet langer bestaat. De rol van de leider, en de titel die daarbij hoort, verandert slechts. Naar analogie van het bovenstaande voorbeeld werkt het bezien vanuit een agile context dus net even anders:

‘Als projectmanager selecteer ik de juiste mensen op basis van expertise, maar let daarbij ook op intrinsieke motivatie en een onderlinge culturele “fit” van alle teamleden. Afhankelijk van de context waarbinnen ze opereren bepaal ik de juiste functionele samenstelling van het team en de structuur van de teams en zet ik de kaders uit waarbinnen ze werken, uiteraard in goed overleg. Vervolgens gaan ze samen met de Product Owner aan de slag en stimuleer ik het team om continue focus te houden op het steeds stellen van de juiste prioriteren gebaseerd op de business value die de Product Owner aangeeft. Ze zijn daarbij zelf verantwoordelijk voor het plannen van het werk, waardoor commitment ontstaat. Gedurende de realisatie in de ontwikkelsprints monitor ik continu of de kwaliteit (zowel functioneel, non-functioneel als procesmatig) van het opgeleverde werk voldoende is en help ik de Scrum Master met het wegnemen van eventuele belemmeringen. Aan de hand van het frequent opleveren van werkende software toon ik aan dat ik mijn werk goed heb gedaan.’

Neemt controle af met dienend leiderschap?

Een reflex van meer traditioneel geschoolden, op de inzet van agile en dienend leiderschap in het bijzonder, is behoudendheid als gevolg van vrees voor afname van ‘control’. Agile ontwikkelmethoden vergen dan ook een grotere nadruk op soft controls. De literatuur over management control is duidelijk over de toegevoegde waarde van de inzet van soft controls: ze dragen bij aan een betere werking van het management-controlsysteem, en een betere werking van het management-controlsysteem vergroot de kans dat organisatiedoelen worden gerealiseerd ([Merc07], [Simo95], [Hofs81]).

Een van de principes achter het Agile Manifesto is: ‘Bouw projecten rond gemotiveerde individuen. Geef hun de omgeving en ondersteuning die ze nodig hebben en vertrouw erop dat ze de klus klaren.’ In feite is dit wat Merchant en Van der Stede ([Merc07]) classificeren als een ‘personnel control’, een control gericht op de natuurlijke neiging van werknemers tot zelfsturing en zelfbeheersing omdat een innerlijke drijfveer aan hen aangeeft wat juist is om te doen en omdat ze hun persoonlijke genoegdoening halen uit het feit dat hun organisatie succes heeft. Deze controls bouwen op de natuurlijke neiging van medewerkers om zichzelf te controleren en trachten de intrinsieke motivatie van medewerkers te activeren. Ze helpen de medewerkers bij het begrijpen van de organisatiedoelstelling en het zekerstellen dat zij in staat zijn goed werk te leveren en vergroten de kans dat iedere medewerker zelfmonitoring toepast. Zelfmonitoring is de drang die bij de meeste mensen aanwezig is om goed werk te leveren en zich verbonden te voelen met de organisatiedoelen. Fenomenen die ten grondslag liggen aan zelfmonitoring zijn zelfcontrole, intrinsieke motivatie, ethiek, vertrouwen en loyaliteit. De drie belangrijkste instrumenten voor organisaties om personnel controls toe te passen zijn aannamebeleid, training of scholing van medewerkers en ontwerp van functies en randvoorwaarden.

Er gaan stemmen op dat het gehele Agile Manifesto en de daarin opgenomen waarden en principes beschouwd moeten worden als een ‘cultural control’ – een agile cultuur die gebaseerd is op gedeelde tradities, normen, overtuigingen, waarden, ideologieën, attituden en gedragswijzen.

Personnel en cultural controls worden gezien als sterke vormen van controls omdat ze een controlsysteem kunnen domineren, zeker in organisaties met weinig hiërarchie, hoog opgeleide mensen en een relatief grote ‘span of control’ van managers. Binnen agile organisaties kan de impact van deze vormen van control dan ook erg hoog zijn.

Vanuit de span of control van managers binnen een agile context en de wijze waarop zij control uitoefenen is de relatie met dienend leiderschap evident: ‘Een dienend leider stelt de belangen van anderen op de eerste plaats, heeft de wijsheid om te zien wat nodig is, de capaciteiten om daar iets mee te doen en de moed om daarnaar te handelen.’ ([Nuij12]). Hierbij vindt een dienend leider de ontwikkeling en het succes van de mensen om hem heen het belangrijkst en worden op basis hiervan doelen gesteld en beslissingen genomen. Een dienend leider zal het team dan ook behoeden voor overcommitting. Dit is de grootste onderscheidende factor van dienend leiders, ongeacht hun titel, rol of positie. Het is dan ook niet vreemd dat we binnen agile projecten veel vaker de term Agile Coach terugvinden voor de rol ‘formerly known as’ Projectleider.


In dit artikel is toegelicht wat het gevolg is van de adoptie van het agile/Scrum-gedachtegoed en de agile/Scrum-werkwijze voor de preferente leiderschapsstijl. Tevens is uiteengezet wat dit betekent vanuit een management-controlperspectief. De volgende elementen zijn hierbij het belangrijkst:

  • In toenemende mate wordt ‘agile at scale’ toegepast, wat dwingt tot een agile mindset binnen de gehele organisatie.
  • Daarbij hoort ook een andere inrichting van projecten en programma’s en een andere manier van aansturing die hierop aansluit. Een andere vorm van leiderschap is hierbij noodzakelijk.
  • De leider in een agile context is een dienend leider.
  • Personnel en cultural controls zijn inherent aan agile en domineren het controlsysteem van de dienende leider, waarmee in management-controltermen de gewenste uitkomst kan worden gerealiseerd.



[Agil12] K. Sullivan, Agile in the Lonely Planet Legal Team, Agile on the Beach conference, 2012.


[Hofs81] G. Hofstede, Management control of public and not-for-profit activities, 1981.

[KPMG12] KPMG, Project- en programmamanagement survey 2012: haalt u eruit wat erin zit?, 2012.

[KPMG15] KPMG Sweden, Project and Programme Management survey 2015, 2015.

[McFa08] K.R. McFarland, Should You Build Strategy Like You Build Software?, 2008.

[Merc07] K.A. Merchant and W.A. van der Stede, Management Control Systems: Performance Measurement, Evaluation and Incentives, 2007.

[Nuij12] I. Nuijten, Echte leiders dienen: Voor leiders die het verschil maken, 2012.

[PMSo14] PM Solutions Research, The State of the Project Management Office (PMO) 2014, 2014.

[Rood14] Rood Consult, Dienend Leiderschap (Servant Leadership), 2014. Geraadpleegd op 12 mei 2016 op:

[Simo95] R. Simons, Levers of Control: How Managers Use Innovative Control Systems to Drive Strategic Renewal, 1995.

[Soli13] R. van Solingen, Een blik in de toekomst: Scrum in het voorgezet en basisonderwijs, 2013.

[Vers15] VersionOne Inc., 9th Annual State of Agile™ Survey, 2015.

[West14] L.H. Westenberg, Scrum in het groot bij Interview met Marc van Dongen en Rosine de Leeuw, Compact 2014/3.

Een megaprogramma tot een goed einde brengen, (hoe) kan dat?

Bij de vorming van de Nationale Politie zijn de financiële administraties van alle voormalige korpsen, in totaal 28 administraties, samengevoegd tot één financiële administratie. Door deze grootschalige centralisatie werken alle financiële politiemedewerkers inmiddels op dezelfde manier in één landelijk financieel systeem en bespaart de politie jaarlijks minimaal 1,8 miljoen euro aan IT-kosten. Hoe is men erin geslaagd dit megaproject succesvol te doen verlopen? Dit artikel beschrijft de omstandigheden, uitdagingen en succesfactoren van dit transitieprogramma.


Bij de vorming van één korps – een grootschalige organisatie met zo’n 65.000 medewerkers – zijn niet alleen de vroegere korpsen gecentraliseerd naar één korps met 11 eenheden, maar is ook de gehele bedrijfsvoering ondergebracht bij het Politiedienstencentrum. De financiële administraties van alle 26 voormalige korpsen, in totaal 28 financiële administraties, met een totaalbudget van circa 5 miljard euro, moesten in die beweging worden gecentraliseerd naar één fysieke locatie, met één proces- en rekeningschema en één accounting manual, en naar één nieuw systeem. Een transformatie van bijna ongekende omvang, die desondanks succesvol is gerealiseerd (zie figuur 1).


Figuur 1. Van 28 financiële administraties naar één financiële administratie voor de Nationale Politie.

Door de realisatie van deze grootschalige centralisatie bij de Dienst Financiën van de politie werken alle financiële politiemedewerkers inmiddels op dezelfde manier in één landelijk financieel systeem en bespaart de politie jaarlijks minimaal 1,8 miljoen euro, alleen al aan IT-kosten, naast de besparingen in de personele omvang door verbeterde efficiëntie in de financiële administratie zelf.

In dit artikel verkennen we de omstandigheden, de uitdagingen en vooral de succesfactoren die het succesvol realiseren van dit soort megaprojecten toch mogelijk kunnen maken.

De uitdaging

De vorming van de Nationale Politie kent in termen van omvang en complexiteit haar gelijke eigenlijk niet. De transitie raakte circa 65.000 medewerkers en bijna 30 redelijk zelfstandig opererende eenheden die geografisch over het hele land verspreid waren en stond midden in de politieke en maatschappelijke belangstelling. En of dat nog niet genoeg was, moest tijdens de verbouwing vanzelfsprekend de winkel gewoon openblijven!


Figuur 2. Van 25 politieregio’s naar één Nationale Politie.

Het vertrekpunt

De uitgangssituatie was divers. Weliswaar werkten 25 van de 28 financiële administraties al met het financiële systeem waar naartoe werd gemigreerd, namelijk SmartStream, maar de inrichting verschilde overal, omdat in het verleden ieder korps zijn eigen financiële administratie had en daarover mocht beslissen. Dat betekent verschillen in werkwijze, processchema’s, accounting manuals, rekeningschema’s, rapportagestructuren, gebruiksprofielen enzovoort. Daarnaast werkten drie eenheden, waaronder de grootste en meest complexe, met SAP of Exact, waardoor de verschillen nog groter waren.

De impact

Tevens raakte de vorming van de Nationale Politie circa 300 financieel medewerkers verspreid over het land, van Zuid-Limburg tot Noord-Groningen, en een net zo verspreid en groot aantal leveranciers en omvangrijke dagelijkse financiële stromen. Per maand gaat dit bijvoorbeeld over circa 20.000 ontvangen facturen die moeten worden verwerkt, gecontroleerd, geboekt en betaald.

De context

De directe omgeving was eveneens volop in beweging. Soortgelijke trajecten voor de Human Resource-functie (HR), Facilitair Management (FM) en een aantal andere bedrijfsvoeringsprocessen zijn parallel gestart (zie figuur 3), met over en weer afhankelijkheden in termen van dienstverlening, processen en systemen. Denk aan de ‘purchase-to-pay’-processen die kunnen ontstaan vanuit nagenoeg alle bedrijfsonderdelen en die via FM en de financiële administratie lopen, bij voorkeur met geautomatiseerde controles (drieweg-matching). Deze standaardisatie van de bedrijfsvoeringsprocessen en -systemen is in 2011 gestart en wordt in 2016 geheel afgerond.


Figuur 3. De gehele transitie van de Voorziening Bedrijfsvoering.

De personele aspecten

‘Last but not least’ is in 2011 de personele reorganisatie in gang gezet om de 65.000 medewerkers onder te brengen in de nieuwe organisatie die Nationale Politie heet. De financiële functie werd daarbij gecentraliseerd in Rotterdam, met als gevolgen voor veel financiële medewerkers: langere reistijden, verhuizingen of overstappen naar andere functies. Diezelfde medewerkers hadden wel een belangrijke rol in het transitieproces.

Concreet betekende dit dat de medewerkers enerzijds werden verondersteld hun werk gewoon te blijven doen vanuit tijdelijke organisatorische hulpstructuren, maar dat ze anderzijds in veel gevallen nog niet wisten waar ze in de nieuwe organisatie zouden terechtkomen. Een positief resultaat is dat de betreffende medewerkers met veel inzet en loyaliteit de continuïteit hebben weten te borgen en velen bovendien extra bijdragen aan de transitie hebben geleverd.

Het gebrek aan – in aard en omvang – vergelijkbare trajecten maakte het moeilijker om te plannen, te budgetteren, risico’s te schatten en de programmaorganisatie en -besturing in te richten. Er zijn geen succesformules voor bekend en dus waren er volop onzekerheden bij aanvang en onderweg.

De kernvraag

Hoe kan een dergelijke transitie dan toch succesvol worden gerealiseerd in de wetenschap dat in de hedendaagse praktijk circa 50 procent van de projecten niet de geplande resultaten oplevert, in termen van tijd, geld en/of kwaliteit? Bovendien was dit programma ook nog bovengemiddeld complex, gegeven de eerder beschreven kenmerken en omstandigheden.

Kader 1. Belangrijke faalfactoren bij grote projecten en programma’s.

De meest voorkomende fouten zijn:

  1. Gebrek aan commitment en ondersteuning vanuit de top
  2. Onvolledige en/of onduidelijke vereisten aan het project
  3. Het onvoldoende managen van de verwachtingen
  4. ‘Scope creep’ oftewel: er worden steeds meer dingen in het project gestopt vanuit de gedachte ‘als we nu tóch bezig zijn’
  5. Project en organisatie zijn onvoldoende op elkaar afgestemd
  6. Onvoldoende ICT-kennis/-ervaring bij de opdrachtgever
  7. Elkaar niet aanspreken (‘goed nieuws’-cultuur)
  8. Verschillende belangen van belanghebbenden
  9. Commerciële belangen van ICT-bedrijven
  10. Strikte aanbestedingsprocedures

Wat zijn de belangrijkste ingrediënten en welke lessen hebben we gedurende het programma geleerd? We onderscheiden daarbij drie aspecten en te beantwoorden deelvragen die naar onze overtuiging een belangrijke rol hebben gespeeld:

  1. Besturing (programmagovernance) en kaders. Hoe wordt het programma bestuurd? Welke boodschappen zijn hierbij leidend geweest? Hoe zijn de verschillende belanghebbenden erbij betrokken?
  2. Team en cultuur. Hoe ziet de teamsamenstelling eruit? Welke competenties waren in het team samengebracht? Is de onderlinge samenwerking goed? Hebben we altijd een plan B klaarliggen?
  3. Aanpak. Wat was de benadering, of het aanvalsplan, om het programma te realiseren? Welke tactiek is gehanteerd?

De succesfactoren

Gedurende het programma is er regelmatig en ook expliciet stilgestaan bij de voortgang van het programma, de uitdagingen en de daaraan gerelateerde ‘lessons learned’. Hierbij dient te worden opgemerkt dat het lessen betreft in de context van dit specifieke programma en dat die dus niet noodzakelijkerwijs generiek van toepassing zijn op alle andere programma’s en projecten. Ze geven echter wel inzicht in de factoren die van belang kunnen zijn bij het realiseren van complexe programma’s.

In de volgende paragrafen beschrijven we de ervaringen op de drie genoemde aspecten: besturing, team en cultuur en aanpak.

Succesfactor 1: besturing en kaders

De basis voor de besturing is gelegd met een duidelijke visie op het te bereiken doel voor de middellange termijn. Dat vormde de logica voor alles wat er gebeurt en voor beslissingen, prioriteiten en soms lastige keuzes. Het doel, dat een aantal jaren in de toekomst lag, was niet tot op microniveau gespecificeerd, maar wel voldoende duidelijk en voldoende gedragen om mee te starten.

De business (in dit geval de Dienst Financiën) en IT (in dit geval de IV-organisatie) hebben steeds heel nadrukkelijk samen aan het stuur gezeten en zijn issues en uitdagingen samen aangegaan. Dit in tegenstelling tot omstandigheden waar de business het programma delegeert aan de IV-organisatie in de veronderstelling dat alle uitgangspunten, kaders, omstandigheden, specificaties en dergelijke op voorhand voorspelbaar en voldoende duidelijk zijn.

Dat vastgestelde doel en de koers waren aan de ene kant helder en uitdagend, maar aan de andere kant nog vol onzekerheden, afhankelijkheden en zelfs discussiepunten. Om hiermee om te kunnen gaan is ruimte nodig, daar waar control vaak de basisreactie is in complexe en moeilijke omstandigheden, zeker als het (even) tegenzit, het moeizaam gaat en mijlpalen worden gemist. Die ruimte zit in (wederom) drie aspecten:

  1. Vakinhoud (in dit geval financiën): directe betrokkenheid van deskundigheid van de financieel medewerkers en procesexperts creëert ruimte om te komen tot oplossingen voor problemen gedurende het programma.
  2. Programma-uitvoering (intern georiënteerd op programma): door een duidelijke structuur en heldere kaders in het programma wordt ruimte gecreëerd voor alle betrokkenen om conform plan de doelen te realiseren.
  3. Context (extern ten opzichte van programma, de context, belanghebbenden): met name vanuit de stuurgroep is de context waarin het programma opereerde goed bewaakt, waardoor het programma weinig last heeft gehad van veranderingen in de context.

Gedurende het programma is in de bredere context (er liepen verschillende grote programma’s parallel) de nadruk gelegd op een paar centrale thema’s die in de loop der tijd veranderden. Zo is in de beginfase van de realisatie als thema ‘Volharding’ benoemd, want de weg was lang, met obstakels, tegenvallers, tegenslagen en vertwijfeling. Dat vraagt om volharding en ‘op karakter’ door blijven gaan om resultaten te behalen. In een later stadium is dit veranderd in het thema ‘Delen’, omdat in die fase de onderlinge verbanden tussen de verschillende programma’s bij de politie belangrijker begonnen te worden.

Een ander, zeer belangrijk aspect in de besturing van het programma betrof de transparantie in de rapportages en verslaglegging over de voortgang. In veel projecten en programma’s bestaat de neiging de voortgang rooskleuriger voor te stellen, om de pijn wat te verzachten en mogelijkheden – veelal tevergeefs – te benutten om bijvoorbeeld opgelopen achterstanden alsnog in te lopen. Dan hoeft niemand te weten dat we even achterliepen op de planning, toch?

Omdat er open en transparant over de voortgang, problemen en tegenvallers werd gecommuniceerd, kreeg het programma op de juiste momenten de juiste aandacht met de nodige prioriteit. In onze voortgangsrapportages en -gesprekken heeft dit continu centraal gestaan, in combinatie met zo concreet mogelijke voorstellen om de problemen te adresseren. Dit onder het motto ‘leuker kunnen we het niet maken, wel makkelijker’.

Succesfactor 2: team en cultuur

In complexe trajecten met betrokkenheid van verschillende disciplines, afdelingen en achtergronden is het onvermijdelijk: er ontstaan altijd issues, problemen, uitdagingen, spanningen en (schijnbare) calamiteiten. Het wordt dan vaak nog complexer omdat deze disciplines vanuit verschillende fysieke locaties en organisatieonderdelen betrokken zijn. Denk hierbij in dit geval aan de Dienst Financiën, applicatiebeheer (SmartStream-serviceteam), processpecialisten, test(management), vertegenwoordigers van de te migreren omgeving, de conversiecoördinatoren en uiteraard de leden van de stuurgroep.

Hoe verklaar je dat het gelukt is?

Gery van Westbroek (voorzitter stuurgroep): De grote inzet en betrokkenheid van medewerkers van zowel de project­organisatie als de financiële administratie is onontbeerlijk geweest voor het welslagen van het project. Een heel gedisciplineerde club waar ook duidelijk geldt ‘afspraak is afspraak’. Daarnaast ook door tussentijds de voortgang van het project goed te blijven monitoren. Er zat een gedegen planning onder en bij issues waar we tegenaan liepen, hebben we steeds snel het juiste besluit genomen om weer verder te kunnen. Dit kon ook omdat we vanuit financiën én ICT samen optrokken als één team.

Gedurende het programma hebben we steeds de gemeenschappelijkheid centraal gesteld. Het gezamenlijke doel en de samen gemaakte kaders en afspraken waren leidend. Hierdoor zijn we in staat geweest om, ondanks eventuele meningsverschillen, obstakels en tegenslagen, steeds weer vanuit de basishouding ‘één team’ de problemen op te lossen en het programma op schema te houden.

Projecten met een langere doorlooptijd krijgen veelal te maken met een wijziging in bezetting – om verschillende redenen. Het vasthouden van een (ingewerkt) kernteam draagt absoluut bij aan stabiele prestaties van het totale projectteam.

Door deze gemeenschappelijkheid en door het over de grenzen van eigen disciplines heen kijken is ook een andere kracht in het team ontstaan, namelijk het zich voorbereiden op alternatieve oplossingen (plan B) voor potentiële problemen in de toekomst. Het programma had, zoals veel grote programma’s, te maken met diverse afhankelijkheden in de directe omgeving. Denk hierbij aan de parallelle vernieuwing van een deel van de basis-IT-infrastructuur. Voor alle afhankelijkheden is in teamverband gezocht naar alternatieve oplossingen en mogelijke scenario’s. Deze alternatieve oplossingen hebben we in veel gevallen ook daadwerkelijk nodig gehad en ze hebben fors bijgedragen aan het op schema houden van het programma.

De cultuur was open: elkaar aanspreken met een combinatie van resultaatgerichtheid, grote betrokkenheid en – zeker niet onbelangrijk – humor. Dat betekent dat we continu aandacht hebben gegeven aan werkende resultaten, waarbij het uitvoeren van een ‘voorgeschreven taak’ niet meer toereikend was. Daarbij hebben we elkaar steeds scherp gehouden op de ‘Definition of Done’: wanneer is iets nu echt klaar (zie figuur 4)?


Figuur 4. Voorbeelden van ‘reacties’ die niet vallen onder de ‘Definition of Done’.

Ter illustratie: in de nieuwe werkwijze wordt gewerkt met digitale documenten, bijvoorbeeld facturen, die bij ontvangst worden gescand en gerouteerd. Dat klinkt eenvoudig, maar dit vraagt inzet en betrokkenheid vanuit verschillende disciplines. Op alle locaties moeten, conform de opgestelde specificaties, scanners worden besteld, geleverd en geplaatst, met voeding en netwerkaansluiting. Het daarbij benodigde werkstation moet van de juiste software worden voorzien, de juiste scripts moeten daarop worden geïnstalleerd en de gehele configuratie moet worden getest op betrouwbaar functioneren. Dit zijn veel verschillende activiteiten die moeten leiden tot één concreet resultaat, namelijk een volledig werkend ketenproces.

Succesfactor 3: aanpak

De kern van de aanpak was een vooraf met betrokken deskundigen vanuit de politie en KPMG opgestelde blauwdruk in combinatie met een beheerste, gefaseerde migratie (zie figuur 5). Vanuit het oogpunt van het risicoprofiel en beheersing is hier de voorkeur aan gegeven ten opzichte van een big bang. Een bigbangbenadering kan aantrekkelijk lijken en wordt vaak beschouwd als een ‘snellere’ variant. In de praktijk kleven hier echter hogere risico’s aan en kunnen nazorg en correctiewerkzaamheden achteraf alsnog heel tijdrovend zijn.


Figuur 5. Blauwdruk voor processen en IT als basis.

Om te komen tot een onderbouwde planning is gestart met een impactanalyse van de te migreren administraties. Op basis hiervan is de zwaarte en complexiteit bepaald van de benodigde inspanning. Na een pilot waarbij het migratiedraaiboek, de blauwdruk en de werkwijze grondig zijn getest, zijn eerst de relatief eenvoudiger eenheden (die al ervaring hadden met het doelsysteem SmartStream en een classificatie ‘laag’ hadden) gemigreerd en pas in een later stadium de meer complexe eenheden met andere typen activiteiten en andere bronsystemen (zie figuur 6). Een positief beeld door een succesvolle start draagt uiteindelijk bij aan een betere acceptatie door de rest van de organisatie.


Figuur 6. Gefaseerde migratieplanning op basis van impactanalyse. [Klik op de afbeelding voor een grotere afbeelding]

Naast de meer ‘technische’ aspecten, zoals de blauwdruk, het accounting manual en het migratiedraaiboek, is op basis van de ervaringen bij de eerste migraties een expliciete rol toegevoegd aan het team, namelijk die van business change manager. Vanuit deze rol werd de aandacht voor de veranderkundige aspecten en voor de medewerkers die werden ‘geraakt’ door de migratie flink vergroot. De migratieteams zijn meer vanuit de locatie van de te migreren eenheden gaan opereren, in nauwe samenwerking met de te migreren eenheden. Hierdoor konden issues en problemen veel sneller worden geadresseerd en regelmatig zelfs worden voorkomen.

De interne auditafdeling en de externe accountant zijn bij iedere migratie betrokken bij het proces en hebben ook per migratie dwingende reviews uitgevoerd om te waarborgen dat de integriteit van de financiële administratie ook tijdens de complexe migratie intact zou blijven. Een betere quality assurance is vrijwel niet denkbaar (zie figuur 7).


Figuur 7. Een stapsgewijze, gecontroleerde migratieaanpak. [Klik op de afbeelding voor een grotere afbeelding]

Vanuit het programma was een van de belangrijke rollen die van de conversiecoördinatie, die ervoor heeft gezorgd dat de conversiedossiers zorgvuldig werden opgebouwd en gecontroleerd; eerst vanuit het team zelf en vervolgens door de accountant.

Ten slotte was onderdeel van onze aanpak om, na een analyse op hoofdlijnen, ondanks de nog zichtbare onzekerheden en uitdagingen, gewoon te beginnen met de beheerste, stapsgewijze migratie, waarbij het steeds mogelijk bleef om de oude situatie te herstellen als dat nodig zou zijn. De neiging kan bestaan om die onzekerheden en uitdagingen allemaal vooraf nog gedetailleerder te analyseren, oplossingen te bedenken, nadere analyses uit te voeren, meerdere partijen erbij te betrekken enzovoort. Vanaf het begin is vastgehouden aan de gedefinieerde blauwdruk als stabiele basis. Dit schept veel duidelijkheid voor alle partijen, maar vraagt ook om een heldere uitleg en een goed proces om de eisen en wensen die niet meegenomen zijn, later alsnog via een regulier beheerproces releasematig aan te pakken.

Door de opgebouwde ervaringen in het begin van het programma en de bij het programma betrokken partijen was het verantwoord om ook bij onzekerheden gewoon van start te gaan en onderweg de vinger aan de pols te houden. Hiermee konden we ‘analysis paralysis’ voorkomen en op een verantwoorde en gecontroleerde manier toch voortgang blijven boeken.


We hebben geprobeerd te benoemen welke factoren specifiek hebben bijgedragen aan het succesvol realiseren van dit complexe programma, maar per saldo hebben vooral de mensen het verschil gemaakt. Binnen het team speelde het onderscheid tussen betrokkenen van financiën, de IV-organisatie en KPMG geen rol van betekenis meer. Iedereen ging voor het gezamenlijke doel en de vastgestelde koers. Daarnaast is de grote mate van betrokkenheid en inzet van veel medewerkers, ondanks de onzekerheid over de eigen positie, een kritische succesfactor geweest.

Door de nadruk op de succesfactoren kan de indruk worden gewekt dat we in dit programma geen tegenslagen, spanning, moedeloosheid, wanhoop en dergelijke hebben ervaren. Niets is minder waar! We hebben onze portie wel gehad, zoals dat nu eenmaal lijkt te horen bij dergelijke trajecten, maar met het mooie resultaat als beloning!