T-Systems: Boosting Efficiency Across Global Operations

T-Systems: Boosting Efficiency Across Global Operations

Patrick Beyer discusses T-Systems’ global efficiency programme and how the company helps others to boost efficiency via cultural change

Starting his career at T-Systems in 2009, Patrick Beyer has climbed through the business from IT Project Manager to Vice President Global Business Operations. T-Systems has several portfolio units; Beyer, in particular, runs the Global Business Operations in T-Systems’ Private Cloud Business. “To just give you a feel of what Global Business Operations are about, we are not finance, but we are doing all efficiency programmes. We are not human resources, but we are doing the entire resource management. We are not procurement, but we do all make supplier and licence management. That means, it's mainly about being a cross-functional unit
in a large IT company,” explains Beyer.

With 28,000 employees and a revenue of €4.2bn a year, “T-Systems is one of the leading IT service providers in Europe, and we are serving our customers with nearly all services, from digital solutions to cloud services and security services, and this makes us really unique in the market that we can serve the entire value chain for our customers.”

Boosting Global End-to-End Efficiency

Sharing some insight into the management of global efficiency programmes and how T-Systems boost them, Beyer explains that agile end-2-end efficiency is a framework for how T-Systems push significant efficiencies in IT operation. “We are also deeply convinced that this method, how we do IT, and efficiency is also valuable for a lot of other companies. Basically, we break down the silos from the organisation by uniting the experts - despite hierarchy levels and roles - forming a unit structure, an environment to let them share their ideas about further IT improvements and cost reductions.”

The Method Behind Positive Results for T-Systems

Like many others in the last year, alongside the continuous year on year challenges, T-Systems has faced financial challenges and pressures from the COVID-19 crisis. To drive its own yearly efficiency, T-Systems developed this ‘agile, end-to-end (E2E) efficiency’ approach, which can be broken down into three topics: agile methodology, agile E2E streams, and new T-Mindset.

Starting with agile methodology, Beyer explains, “we looked at the benefits from SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) and from Scrum to implement for efficiency. We wanted to bring our international colleagues together, collaborating across all units, by applying the agile methodology. We wanted to break down the silos by uniting the experts, despite hierarchy level roles and form the organisational unit. And we wanted to set up a real end-to-end cloud collaboration from service management via delivery to offshore.”

“So we took all those learnings from SAFe and from Scrum and brought it into one common programme where we invited several experts from all different departments like Finance, Operations, Procurement, Sales, Resource Management into several design thinking workshops, asking ‘How can we improve on an overarching level?’ From the meetings, we had so many great ideas and user stories that the next step was to determine how we can now structure those ideas into a common programme?” says Beyer.

“It became clear very early on that we need to have dedicated people working on those programmes, if it’s only taking 10% of your working time, it will not succeed, which is why we said we wanted to have experts with at least 50% capacity to really drive these projects forward. This really brought us into a new framework on how we want to take our efficiency programmes further. One very important thing for me was always giving the responsibility to the respective scrum teams, and they set up their own individual efficient ambitions and targets. The mix between enabling high flexibility by using new agile methods like Scrum and self-organised teams was THE key success factor for us.”

Based on this, T-Systems created five different agile E2E streams:
1. Transparency and monitoring
2. Third-party agreement optimisation
3. External workforce optimisation
4. Account optimisation
5. Cross function improvement

“Working together as a team, we went through the best practices of our organisation, based on the cross-functional experts in the programme, we ask frequently are doing, what we can stop doing, what we can substitute and what we really need to keep. Based on the best practices from all units and the common knowledge of the organisation, we were able to really succeed. From this, we understood the importance of having the right mindset.” “As we know, it is our mindset that drives our behaviour and ultimately determines our results. So, our new T-Mindset idea was launched in 2019 to create a unique mindset within T-Systems. The T-Mindset is composed of three mindset shifts: changing the way we work together (Agile Working), changing the way we think about ourselves (Personal Growth) and changing the way we collaborate with each other (Outward Mindset). Especially the shift to an outward mindset, to see others as people like ourselves, whose objectives and challenges matter to us; dramatically improved our abilities of squads and teams to work productively together.”

Helping Other Benefit From Efficient, Best Practices

With this approach, T-Systems gain a lot of savings, “it levelled up our efficiency,” says Beyer, “and we’ve had, in the end, more motivated people than before.”

In adopting this approach, T-Systems Private Cloud unit has seen great results, “we’ve had a significant reduction in our external workforce cost by 20%, in our third party costs by 15%, and in our internal personnel costs by 8%. What we have really learned in this end-to-end efficiency programme is that it's all about enabling our people, empowering our people and powering their potential (despite hierarchy), and embracing change and continuous improvement.”

Helping other companies to do the same, Beyer reflects that “it leaves us a lot of new potential instead of just drumbeating targets into organisations. It brings experts together, giving them trust and allowing them to generate epics, user stories and great ideas. Specifically, the regular demo calls as best practice, from my perspective, was one success factor that I definitely recommend to many organisations, instead of wasting too much time with status reporting and result tracking.”

For others looking to apply this method, Beyer believes that it all starts with the right mindset. “Agile E2E efficiency doesn’t start with training, it starts with the right mindset. If you have the right attitude in an organisation, then it is much easier to succeed. That's why agile working and an agile mindset for me are the foundations for the success of this programme. And this is something that companies need to start first.”

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