Transformation: An insurance company becomes agile


The digital transformation is not only permanently challenging tried-and-tested business models, but is also causing traditional business sectors to disappear from the market in record time. Today more than ever, consumers and customers decide whether products and services are successful on the market – or not. This poses major challenges for many established companies. Strategy processes and objectives are becoming more volatile to the same extent that innovation cycles are becoming shorter and shorter. Many established players lack the necessary speed to keep pace with this development, partly due to hierarchical coordination and long decision-making processes. Many IT organizations are not able to meet the high demands of the business units in terms of speed. In addition, middle and top management are often stuck in old management styles and thus stand in the way of the transformation to an agile organization. In addition, such agile transformations often have to take place in parallel with other, no less urgent change processes.

An agile organization with a clear structure

Even if it seems contradictory at first, the only way to an agile organization is through a clear (project) structure. Kobaltblau exemplified this with a large insurance group. At the core of the approach is a program structure with three components:

  1. The central control function is the linchpin of the organizational change process. Your tasks are the management of the entire transformation process with clear end-to-end responsibility and results management including the entire project communication and interface management in the change process. In addition to the team leads of all relevant internal functions, the PMO, change management officers, agile coaches and product owners can be found in this control center. This agile team plans the entire procedure, sets priorities, coordinates the various programs and projects and communicates continuously with the design teams as the second central component.
  2. Design teams are responsible for the conception and method development of a target operating model, E-2-E solution development process, investment and project portfolio management. They also ensure business analysis and demand management and drive forward development and testing.
  3. As the third part of the agile transformation project, implementation teams ensure the sustainability of the desired changes in all organizational units, i.e. the line and the project. They develop and monitor training concepts and ensure that the objectives are achieved by monitoring implementation. They are also the coaches of the individual project managers, teams and also the managers in the organization.

Agility is not an end in itself

Agility only makes sense if it is practiced and actually contributes to corresponding business goals. When successfully implemented, the agile organization significantly increases the productivity of basic IT, in particular through the incremental provision of relevant business benefits. Ideally, it achieves this with consistent quality and stability in the overall organization. This is the basis for successively transforming the strategy, product development and ultimately the entire customer benefit of the portfolio towards a more agile delivery model. At the same time, the joint implementation of a comprehensive transformation process prepares the cultural and procedural ground for a completely new form of cooperation between all specialist levels in cross-functional teams.

In our experience, the overarching management function is of crucial importance in the successful implementation of a transformation process such as the one outlined here, towards an agile organization. Ideally, their work makes the necessity and ultimately the success of the transformation process transparent for all those involved, especially the IT department and the entire business. In our project example, this is made clear by important KPIs:

  • The average project duration was five and a half months
  • The availability of product owners was 78 percent
  • The outstanding 18 percent increase in efficiency achieved


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