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Delivery capability enhanced | DevOps Strategy created

Klarna: optimising DevOps ways of working

With continual improvement being key to its success, Klarna knew that its DevOps and Development teams could perform better, and called us in. Our coaching honed their communication, collaboration and clarity of direction, optimising the teams' ability to deliver consistently what the business required.

COMPANY BACKGROUND

Klarna Bank AB, usually known simply as Klarna, is a Swedish bank founded in Stockholm in 2005 with the aim of making it easier for people to shop online. Klarna’s core service is to assume stores’ claims for payments and handle customer payments, thereby eliminating the risk for seller and buyer.



Klarna is now one of Europe’s largest banks and provides payment solutions for 60 million consumers across 70,000 merchants in 14 countries, processing 650,000 transactions a day. The company has more than 1,700 employees, most of them working at the headquarters in Stockholm.

The challenge

As a new company founded on a vision of customer-centricity and responsiveness, Klarna employs an Agile and DevOps approach to its product and service development. This has served the company well since its inception.

However, while Klarna has a strong workforce of highly capable individuals, it had become clear that improvements could be made to the way the DevOps and Development teams were working. There was some silo behaviour within and between teams which meant that they were not always delivering what each other required, with an impact on trust.

Klarna engaged IndigoBlue to diagnose where improvements could be made and to support and coach the teams towards an optimal way of working.

Our approach

IndigoBlue assigned its lead DevOps consultant to Klarna, embedding him in the DevOps team. This approach not only allows close observation by the consultant of a team in action, but also importantly enables the team to see first-hand that the consultant is an authority on DevOps and is willing to get stuck into the work.

Our consultant was quickly able to diagnose and begin to address some of the suboptimal ways of working. He identified that, in particular, there were issues around communication and collaboration, both in how the team worked together and in how it worked with other teams. This manifested itself in there being no single strategy around which the team could coalesce.

Importantly, the team did agree on the broad principles underpinning their work – what they needed in addition to this was a single, shared vision of the destination towards which they could all work. While there was the will to produce the outcomes that the Development teams and the business required, the DevOps team lacked direction without this shared strategy.

Our consultant worked on two fronts to address this, aiming to improve communication and collaboration within the DevOps team and with the Development teams. He reached out to the Development teams, asking the developers and their managers to identify the top five improvements required from the DevOps team. Our consultant used this information as part of the basis for an overall DevOps Strategy, supported by sub-strategies such as a generalised ‘artefact repository’ strategy.

Coached by our consultant, the DevOps team worked to address each of the top five areas for improvement. Our consultant was able to leverage the good will this generated in the Development teams to secure their help with specific problems that were outside of the DevOps team’s capacity to address.

In this way, the DevOps team began to see first-hand that the more collaborative approach was paying dividends. To cite another example witnessed by the DevOps team: when our consultant proposed a new binary artefact method to the Development teams, it was accepted without hesitation, thanks to the improved trust between Development and DevOps.

The fruits of collaboration, communication and a coherent strategy became clear to the DevOps team. As a result, individuals within it sought our consultant’s coaching in how to overcome intra-team silos. The answer was that having great ideas was not enough – there needed also to be the will to understand and respond to colleagues’ different perspectives in conveying a persuasive vision for how the great idea could be utilised. The first time one of the team followed this advice and secured his teammates’ support for his advocated approach, our consultant knew that the turning point had been achieved.

The outcomes

Underpinned by strengthened collaboration and communication, our consultant’s overall DevOps Strategy gained momentum. The DevOps team was delivering consistently, and the Development teams were pleased with the results – they in turn were helping to fix issues in their domain that were adversely affecting the DevOps team.

Meanwhile within the DevOps team, things were improving continuously with better communication, enhanced collaboration and the satisfaction of everyone in seeing the impact of their work as a coherent unit.

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