Centralising change management for everyone’s benefit
With a history that can be traced back to the 1800s, the Ymere housing association manages a large property portfolio in the Amsterdam metropolitan region.
Supporting around 800 employees, Ymere frequently has numerous business management initiatives in operation. However, different stakeholders, a siloed approach to operations and various steering mechanisms to manage these projects meant they were often difficult to execute, had unclear priorities and frequently didn’t work well together.
This led to numerous problems, including slow progress and broken agreements. Further Ymere’s teams were working in pursuit of their own individual departmental goals, instead of focusing on the overall interests of the organisation.
Building towards an agile future
To help drive change in a more agile and efficient way, Ymere set about building a transparent change ambition portfolio. The goal was to provide a centralised overview of project details, to make it clear who is responsible for what, what project timescales were and what the benefits of each project would be.
Ymere also wanted to ensure that it took on projects that would yield the most value to the overall organisation, which ultimately meant finding a way to identify those projects and then execute them at pace.
But it wasn’t just about individual project success. The company also wanted to bring its employees together and create an environment where everyone was happy, motivated and productive.
This meant having employees take ownership of results, contribute to central ambitions, and work as efficiently as possible in pursuit of a common goal.
Working with Novius, a company of Royal HaskoningDHV, Ymere set about creating this more flexible, efficient and collaborative way of working. The answer was found in Agile Portfolio Management (APM).
Bringing everyone together on the same page
Agile Portfolio Management (APM) sees development teams work in short, tightly timed sprints within a set budget. This approach means organisations can adapt to changing requirements and make both continuous improvements and strategic decisions on an iterative basis.
The process also involves identifying value streams, determine projects known as ‘epics’, and deciding on the best order to tackle them using program increment planning. This process requires stakeholders to come together for regular sessions to agree on how to spend resources, tackle risks and handle dependencies.
With Novius’s help, Ymere was able to build a permanent team to prepare, guide, implement and facilitate the step-by-step transition to an APM methodology. The team began by conducting an awareness program, helping to ensure buy-in by educating everyone involved on what APM is and why it’s worth pursuing.
Once this stage was over, the focus then shifted to improving the predictability of projects – exploring which epics can be realistically performed to accelerate delivery and enhance productivity.
A cohesive change management unit
The business transformation specialists at Novius, played an active role in the preparation, guidance and implementation of the APM team.
Now, Ymere manages its whole portfolio of change projects as a cohesive unit. And the organisation’s leaders have clarity and insight into progress, organisational priorities, current epics and, vitally, a roadmap for what comes next.
With this new, agile approach, Ymere’s stakeholders can work together to realise the organisation’s overall strategy, as opposed to focusing on projects that meet their immediate team needs.
These projects are chosen and prioritised based on the value they offer the business as a whole, and work is completed faster through sprints that deliver incremental value.
What’s more, everyone in the organisation now has ownership of the projects, can see their intention and value, and can monitor their success.