Schneider Electric digitalizes Agile, optimizing efficiency
With more than 135,000 employees worldwide and revenues exceeding $25 billion in 2020, Schneider Electric is driving its digital transformation by integrating leading-edge energy processes and technologies from end-to-end to the cloud. Schneider Electric enables integrated energy management, from residential to industrial (data centers, infrastructures…), by connecting products, controls, software and services throughout the entire energy cycle. In 2020, the organization was ranked for the fourth consecutive year in the list of the world’s most admired companies in Fortune magazine 2021.
- A strong dependency on physical tools (whiteboards, sticky notes)
- Expensive and mandatory on-site meetings
- Lack of real-time information
Over the past few years, Schneider Electric has conducted an organizational transformation to increase the efficiency of its development process. The Industrial Automation, product development and Project Management Office (PMO) teams started to adopt Lean and Agile methods with dedicated tools such as whiteboards, Post-Its and even Kanban boards. Those physical tools, however, rapidly reached their limits.
“The reliability and centralization of information on Post-Its had become a problem,” remembers Ricardo Clemente, Agile Transformation Manager at Schneider Electric.
“When we were taking pictures of whiteboards, the information was often lost. It also required a lot of physical space – often an entire room – blocking other employees from using the room due to the presence of sensitive or non-moveable information.”
Additionally, with teams located all around the world, the ways of working at Schneider Electric had lost their flexibility. For example, the automation team was holding a 2-3 day meeting every 3 months dedicated to planning the following quarter’s work. This organization was no longer feasible during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Historically, we were primarily having face-to-face meetings for all of our interactions, whether they were in person or via video conference, and we did not rely on collaboration tools” shares Sanjeevini Patil, Associate General Manager PMO at Schneider Electric India. “When it became impossible for us to meet on-site we quickly realized that we needed a common tool that we could use across all regions to collaborate in real-time.”
In order to adapt the Lean approach to this new context, Schneider Electric began to explore Digital Visual Management solutions. The product development team was the first to adopt iObeya, a solution to digitize all Visual Management practices. The first experience using the Kanban feature was successful: “The main advantage of a solution like iObeya is that you can be in several places at the same time and see the project’s status at a glance,” explains Sylvain Schär, Head of Engineering development at Schneider Electric.
“The real-time information in iObeya was the perfect solution for us”. After this first success within the product development team, the adoption of iObeya quickly spread across the organization. The Industrial Automation team found iObeya both flexible and easy to learn for all users, enabling them to quickly recreate digitally what was normally done on-site.
In addition to the Lean method, iObeya is now used for Virtual Trainings, Agile projects and more particularly during the 3-week sprints, in addition to Azure DevOps to visualize the progress of the work.
The growing adoption of iObeya within the organization as a new solution for Digital Visual Management has quickly made this tool a “must-have” for training and coaching within the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®). Also, the integration of single sign-on (SSO) guarantees data security, allowing for smooth and secure integration of more employees on the platform.
iObeya met all our needs in terms of PI planning needs and is truly the best solution in terms of support. We were looking for a tool that was as intuitive as possible so we wouldn’t have to train the 130 new users and iObeya had this huge advantage
Michal Ludmann, RTE
Within the first year of deploying iObeya, Schneider Electric experienced a significant improvement in time-to-market delivery, with a 70% improvement in delivering projects on time.
“If you deliver faster, you deliver more projects and create more value” explains Sylvain Schär.
The Industrial Automation team at Schneider Electric no longer needs to fly from different offices to gather every three months for quarterly planning. Schneider Electric estimates that each quarterly event of 150 people costs about €175,000 – including €125,000 for flights alone – for a total cost of approximately €700,000 per year. In addition, Schneider Electric can maintain the Kanban boards without any physical space needed. “Previously, we would have used a whiteboard and all the information would have been lost,” details Mr. Ludmann.
iObeya also helped Schneider Electric stay more interconnected despite being 100% remote throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. “We are an international organization and we need a tool that allows us to be globally connected,” explains Patil. “Now, even if employees are in different locations or teleworking, we can still work together.”
Between reduced costs and widespread adoption, iObeya has become a key solution for Schneider Electric to ensure business continuity while guaranteeing a high level of data security thanks to the ISO 27 001 standard. By adopting Lean and Agile methods with iObeya, Schneider Electric employees are driving the organization’s digital transformation, meeting customers needs faster and contributing to the success of their company.