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Collaboration with the Customers is the Foundation of the Arek-ketterä

Arek Oy builds, maintains, and develops common IT system services needed for pension insurance. The company’s points of pride are the high availability of system services, risk management, and cost-effectiveness. Arek works reliably, in responsible cooperation, and joyfully with pension sector operators. It makes the collaboration smooth and straightforward.

Arek launched a development program to enable agile operations throughout the IT organisation. The goals of agility are

  • to shorten the lead time of projects and processes
  • eliminate the bottlenecks from operating methods
  • bring continuous development as part of normal operations
  • and increase transparency.

Deepening the collaboration and clarifying the roles between Arek, suppliers, and customers in delivery processes were also at the heart of the development program.

“We wanted to include Taskmill’s Agile Coach because our operating environment is so unique. We wanted to make the product development agile as well as service management and to combine these to work seamlessly. It was also important to us that our customers are involved from the very beginning in planning the new operating model and the way of cooperation,” Arek’s CIO Carita Broms-Paulasuo recalls the beginning of the cooperation.

Taskmill and Agile Coach Virpi Repo set out to help Arek achieve these goals.

A new agile way of working throughout the organisation

The collaboration between Arek and Taskmill has been productive in a wide area. The main focus of the cooperation has been the planning of the agile operating method between Arek’s customers, Arek’s employees, and Arek’s suppliers, together with these parties. Nine pension operators, who are Arek’s customers, make this operating environment unique. Therefore understanding the big picture, without forgetting the details, has required particularly careful planning. An important part of the planning of the agile operating method has also been the planning and implementation of the necessary training, as well as support for the adoption of the operating method.

The model and working method described by Taskmill’s expert, has been named “Arek-ketterä”. It will be used throughout the organisation. Arek-ketterä describes the operating method and roles used in development and maintenance. The operating method is based on incremental planning, and the development teams will operate according to the Scrum model. Customers, i.e., all nine pension insurance operators, play a big role in the planning of Arek-ketterä and especially now in its implementation. Arek has wanted to design the model customer-centric and together with customers. It is precisely the needs of customers that are implemented with this operating method.

Agility also extends to service management

At Arek, continuous development and maintenance of IT system services are also carried out. In order to achieve the best possible efficiency throughout the organisation with agility, Taskmill’s expert has been involved in developing IT service management processes and related Service Management Office roles. The work also includes the agile transformation of continuous development and maintenance operating methods and their coordination with both the Arek-ketterä operating method and IT service management processes.

At the moment, Arek is introducing new tools, Jira and Confluence, as part of the change. Taskmill’s expert is involved in planning and supporting the use of these tools as part of new operating methods.

Concrete benefits began to materialise immediately

Although Arek’s agile transformation journey is still ongoing, Arek has already been able to leverage agile principles in a complex pension insurance environment through cooperation.

“We are extremely satisfied with Taskmill’s help on this journey of change and our cooperation will continue. Especially in development, we have been able to break down large entities into smaller sub-entities and schedule work in stages. In addition, in service management, we have achieved the first visible benefits. We see more benefits realising with the use of new tools,  and by injecting agility into continuous improvement and maintenance activities,” says Carita Broms-Paulasuo from Arek.

“The people at Arek, deep experts in their own areas, have approached the ongoing change enthusiastically. Everyone has participated very actively in the planning of the agile operating method. The Arek-ketterä operating method has been designed at a high level and now we get to develop it further through practice and experiments. As a consultant, I have been very well received and my expertise is appreciated. The cooperation has been very smooth and it is really great to be able to help Arek on this journey of change,” Taskmill’s expert Virpi Repo enthuses.

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