Digital Transformation When Goliath is Not a Competitor But a Global Pandemic (Europe 2021)

How do you transform your IT – technologies, workforce, skill and culture - while the business is - disrupted to its maximum? How do you cope with losing 1/3 of your IT resources overnight? How do you still increase your deployment speed? How do you enable an international workforce to work seamlessly on new features? TUI had started to transform its business and digital identity even before Covid-19 came around. The pandemic has obliged us to fasten, stop or change priorities dramatically and hence, had a noticeable impact on our DevOps journey, too. Yet, we decided to look at the good of the crisis and are still in the process of laying the foundation for our future – and it's going to be a bright one! Examples are: Full remote working helped us integrate a lot of cross-cultural multinational teams with ease Communities and coaching of teams investment in the current workforce


Christian Rudolph

Head of DevOps Transformation, TUI Group


Lisa Dahms

Senior HR Manager Learning & Development, TUI Group


Philipp Böschen

DevOps Evangelist/Coach, TUI Group



Hello, and welcome to our talk for the deaf of center past summer, 2021. My name is Christian Rudolph. I'm working at two week group as I had thought deference transformational. And I have today with me, Lisa I'm a senior learning and development and Philip, and I'm a coach helping other teams deep in that space. Let me first introduce you to a two-week group and who we are and what we are doing. So the week group is the volt market lead. I am tourism. Um, before the COVID crisis, we had more than 90 billion of revenue. We have more than 27 million of customers, um, which be between live at traveler for hospitality of market as bell and be most, uh, well wellbeing company had a good gross, uh, estimate for the next financial year. And we had already more than 17% increase of bookings. Um, in January, 2020 compared to the previous year,


How are we organized to we as a company, um, had various bell spreads across Europe. We have around 15 different conflicts that we operate in as a tour operator and sell, um, holidays and travels and hospitality to the different, um, people in the countries, but also in, um, some , uh, only online travel agencies where we sell our, um, own, um, holidays to the different destinations across the world. We have the 15 countries boss divided and speak different regions. So we have the center region, which consists of molds, et cetera. European common face ends. Abby has an office and region with all the Nordic, uh, orientated, um, countries. And we have a Western region. Then we have fonts. Belgium has a lens and looks and Perkins of all. We've a planning, um, to go, to take a look to our competition competition, adults that are our new disrupt dozens of markets like Airbnb, TripAdvisor, and Google's themselves, which bought a lot of digital disruptions to the travel and hospitality markets, especially in the, to operate that business. How do we book our holidays? What we doing and how would it be, make sure that that's a digital journey for the customer is presence with them and help new customers to get the right destinations and survive, travel, um, environment falls up.


We also had to look at that new innovations. Um, there was a lot of new technology out there, like the glass that you can have, um, augmented reality for your insights, a destination to get insights about Cassini drills are we'll see them around sides to give you a good opportunity to show what is possible in a new area of travel and how to believe that to do that. And one of the main points to, of all stands for what's like to help to leading in this area. So we, we visited a lot of the new technology companies. We've worked with a lot of startups together to embrace new things in the travel industry, but everything was more or less to a long-term plan. So yes, we do need to change and to know, and decibel lots of small, small, small lot changes and not a big disruption has been maybe have some net,


How did we plan to do a whole two? We also had a good, um, I bought meetings around that. How did we would like to transform, uh, the buy-in from the company was very well there. We understood to the digital play as that. We need to do a business harmonization across the European markets together with like a application landscape consolidation as well. And we already recognized, okay, we need to change the skills, uh, in all workforce. So we needed to upskill certain people. We needed to develop new skills, which are needed from the markets. Um, we then started to work with press statements inside of our company to make sure that everybody has set the, where we would like to heading to, but everything was still on a more long-term plan. So about three to four years at minimum, um, to get to this position and to make us successful after


Skills to falters, we very well discovered that we know there's a lot of things which will happen. And there are lots of studies out there about how has the skill shops was built, hit our industry. It's not only our company, it's a whole industry that we have specifically, um, skills gaps in the AI data analytics and step up space for all the demand, which is coming to the different areas of the industries. And also as a company, um, one also things we envision already during this period of the long-term planning that we need to invest in our people and obstacles. And so we started this a big club program or a, um, at that time and now it's not okay, how do people brings us first? How can we bring it closer to, to where we need the vamps, the needs for the different people, but also take all the people with us.


And then COVID came around to give you some numbers about what, what does it mean for us? From the impact perspective, we have 1990 1% reduction in customers in the last financial year. We lost 98% of our turnover, and we had to apply for financial aid from the German government and overall from the different investors. So all was around a financial package around 6 billion, um, 6 billion euros, um, which we now carry with us on some areas, um, until the postal terminal. So there was a time, um, in March, maybe we had to think about what does mean for us as a company. So all very fast, the board came together. Um, a lot of things stopped and we had to work together. What did we do? One of the targets was can we get reduced or cash out? So it'd be to reduce the cash out, um, by seven 70%, um, to make sure that we don't spend money when we don't get new money. And we also, um, started to think about our assets. So our company has a lot of assets in the hotel area and the cruise ship, they are crop area. Okay. What can we do to make this as a benefit for us from a financial perspective, um, to this different models, which we explored there and to make us visible for us.


And we also had to reduce, um, yes, mentions in Hepburn, ripe adults that every single does cash out from the company had to be revisited and to relocate against that


What actually has to happen fast, um, from an it perspective, um, where people mainly focused on today, we lost one side of our workforce and it, um, this was mainly contractors. We have hired to help us to do certain things and we reduce our contractors for more than 300 people down to 50. Um, have you also started to use, um, benefits of the fellow schemes in the different countries of, in Germany called , um, to make this happen where you get certain amount paid from the Golan, um, to reduce our it capacity overall, we reduced the capacity by 55% of people's work them and we stopped nearly every single round size. So all HR development, um, activities by cost. And we also go to men mostly from Sweden, so 30 to 45 projects that we helped to survive the business. So as I was the only 45 project has had to continue and to give this fall. And what does it mean in detail, um, Philbin, uh, explained to you.


Okay. So now you're we, um, start looking at, um, so we've seen a general overview of hi in like the two company, how to create with the pandemic and what that meant for us overall. And with this, we are going to dive deep it of it, uh, to the it organization. And we've just seen that our workforce has reduced drastically. So we have to think about how do we use the existing leftover people, which we still have time for and with, to work smarter, not harder. So how do we actually leveraged them back to them? They used to do be conscious throw resources at problems anymore. And, um, also with that new reality, like this pandemic, suddenly we have to create lots of different little challenges, like bringing people back from destinations, but it was still stuck. So we have to cope with developing new features, to develop, uh, to get them into their new homes and their destinations.


And then that whole reduction in workforce also meant that everybody had to take up new responsibilities. Everybody had to kind of look left and right and help out. And we had to do less shoehorning into specific roles, which then also means the skill landscape for our workforce has changed a lot. And all that still happens with 98% loss in turnover. So we cannot really go out and spend new money. So we also have to kind of always be very smart and very diligent in how much resources and when we're going to go into which resources at kind of the four areas we as an it organization focused on, um, that would be first, we're going to look at dev ops coaching. How do we get deep learning, strong dev ops? Like things like Dora things like, um, the framework from McKesson cast and be applied or as to our organization to then help bring other teams along.


That's why we have some central experts with coach and then go further. Then we'd go into metrics, but underlying the entire thing with metrics, we can track anything. We can't prove anything. So that's where we kind of go and lay the foundation to then support the organizational change. Christian already alluded to an ongoing change, but we, um, had to accelerate data and move along and make it out of the quicker and change a few other things. And then we lost, we gonna to move into an area of rain. So global upscaling program led by HR and kind of driven by them to help us develop DIT workforce into this new landscape, this new skill variety. So if you look first at the coaching, what we did is we took enthusiastic members of the overall developer community and, um, build a thing called, uh, the community of practice for DevOps, which was at first the grassroot initiative, or just like-minded people thinking about what can we do?


I'd slate off the dev ops toolkit to make things better, to make things more efficient, to help people along. And you can see at the bottom that we kinda had a few presentations around, okay, what can you do? And the left side shows kind of the metrics, but where do we kind of like lay the foundations? What metrics do we track? And the right side shows the middle, where we, um, develop kind of a maturity model, which shows it's a self-assessment for teams. You kind of go through like, okay, how mature am I in this space? And we kind of tackled agile, builds, deployments, security, and, um, other things like miscellaneous things. We just find interesting. And then additionally, we went from the kind of methodology bit to a bit more practical, technical bits that people could apply rebuild up a central template library for infrastructure templates and application templates.


And just went along with those to help people adopt good practices and kind of showed them at an example, less at a PowerPoint level. So that's our coaching bit, and this is how we started supporting teams and help them along to kind of get going quickly. And then we moved into some metrics and some of you will probably find this familiar. These are very closely line to the door metrics. So we started first to get to delivery stable because with the stable foundation, our delivery can't really cope. If we put more pressure on it, the more pressure and speed we want to put into it, we have to pay the price of stability. So what we did is we went through our existing version control systems. We try to get people to harmonize into one where we put a lot of work into harmonizing people into one version control system.


So we then can simultaneously also get to deployment metrics side effects, and you can see a graph of both on kind of hybrid started collecting these. And in the red, you can see pipelines where if you in something and the green is the successful deployments, and you can see over time, the deployment frequency and the amount of deployments actually changed drastically, like towards the end of this graph, which marks April last year. Um, then we can see the amount of deployments has doubled in size to like six months prior. And, um, also do, you might have good deployments is growing while the, um, failed deployments are stagnating. So this is where we're kind of currently building a base to help teams identify and help identify teams, where to coaches and central enabling organizations can help them along and help them with their struggles. But this is one really key thing that we find do you last.


So the next thing is, um, the cycle time. So if you have a stable, once you've stabilized the delivery, we now need to adapt quickly because we are in a drastically changed environment. And Christian alluded to the innovation bits and I mean, dependent make hasn't made things slower. So overall environment needs sauce to adapt quite quickly, which of course for an enterprise usually is quite a challenge. So first we want to establish, how fast do you be cycled for any features? Like what, what is the cycle mean? You can see some teams started to actually really track that nicely and we can see kind of the curve going that we kinda can see, okay, how you do day deliver on average. And then we can kind of compare them to themselves a few months ago in Tennessee, what changed? How can we kind of get this going?


And the faster, the cycle time and the smaller the batch shifts, the better the package kind of gets tested and we can kind of adapt quickly and throw away work that's wasted because the environment has already changed again. I mean, now your reputation's changed like every two weeks. So we have to kind of be quick on our feet for that. And the last metric we wanted to look at is while going fast, you build up a lot of debt usually. And we looked at the concept of technical debt, which is cutting corners while developing staff to then see how much debt have you paid. And we put a lot of effort into like amplifying and sharing that metric. So we can now tackle that. That's, that's one of our current things we want to kind of look at is don't just deliver at speed. Don't just run in a direction, but make sure you can deliver the quality.


So it doesn't break two months later, and this is one of the key metrics we have right now, which we are kind of looking at and kind of tracking for the teams and helping them. It's like, okay, can we maybe develop, develop this with more quality in mind and less rush? So sometimes the cycle time reduction actually comes from developing more quality into reducing detector. Buildup will actually improve your cycle time. Over time, we find the less tech up, you build up to more stable. Your delivery gets in the most stable your cycle time gets. So with these free metrics in mind, we've done, um, kind of move on to organizational bits. What has the it organization, your organization or role kind of looked at to get to that point? And we have to limit work in progress. So we get faster feedback on the work.


We need to remove the context rushing. So less topics overall for the company. The less people need to switch between differentiation goals. If everybody has the same goal, every conversation they have is in the same context of that goal. And overall, this leads to higher velocity. I mean, this is kind of from the lean mindset of, um, we'd go fast. Like if you deliver smaller things like continuously, we increase velocity. And then we have a shared goals which moves kind of into same idea. If we share all of our goals, commonly, then we have less conflict and less conflicting goals. And suddenly everybody can see that they are doing debt pot for themselves. And then the next thing is after refocusing, we can accelerate. And the is basically where we say, okay, we move to product focus organization where we say, okay, we do it once.


Right? And we focus in our culture that we embrace remote working, which has, we've seen amazing benefits from that. And we go digital first. So we go away from like old big legacy processes, and we want you to embrace the new digital processes, which we've seen work really nicely because we've been forced to adopt them. And we want to embrace an open knowledge sharing culture. That's why you get coaches, for example, openly share all of that information. And the templates are shared and we kind of try to get teams to talk between each other to help each other. All right. And um, now we can see kind of, um, you've seen Christian present the pre before where we have like regional markets and like a group it, and then every market had their own it departments, which then did everything slightly different. We have like, we have still free reservation systems that all moves into a separate, um, organizational structure, which now tries to do things once. So we built one reservation system. We have one sales system, you want one system building products and, uh, Webby, um, try to leverage this product, organizational thinking. And with these organizational changes in mind, the skilled Onshape changes to the law and to support that on a global level, all we've got Lisa with us, she's leading the program to then kinda help us give it up our work for us, but


At least we're trying. Um, so, uh, Christopher mentioned in the very beginning that the skills shortage is out there. Everybody knows about it. And so we had to figure this for our company and we had to see what can we do in order to avoid that our skill, um, are not future proof. And so back in 2019, we came up with the idea to develop, um, or to set up a development program, mainly focused on analytics. Um, and then field came around and we realized we need to have DevOps in the focus of this program as well. So that's why we set up a program called forward. Um, and the program is really new to the whole of it because before, has there been approach a program which has mainly focused on the whole of it? So it's a global program. Uh, in the past we had local initiatives, uh, in the different training, um, departments, but now we really have a global solution that we can offer to our it people.


And the new thing also is that it's centrally funded. So that makes things easier. Um, the boys, the guys were talking about, um, increasing the loss of tea. So essentially funded things, make things easier for us to increase learning activities because the departments don't have to worry about how to get the budget for it. So that makes things easier as well, and enables our people much faster to get the skills that they actually, and in the heart of this program, we have two streams. So that's the one piece is role transition. And the other piece is the on demand learning. I will give you some more details to this in a couple of minutes. And of course we will have to have our new work mindset, um, in our minds. So that means we have to have a safe to fail environment. People need to talk about their experiences, their learning experiences, much more.


Uh, we need to encourage people to take the hours to learn and do that during the daily business. So that's not a common thing until now. So that's something we have to change. And of course, peer learning and interaction is one of the key aspects in order to share knowledge across the company. So that's something we have to focus on with the programs from I'm gonna have a vision. You can see it below here, that's called a two week continuous learning is a natural product or a business delivery. So that means we have to become a learning organization and we're not there yet. So that's why we tried to implement the program, or we have started to implement the program. And here are some more details about the forward program. So I talked, uh, told you that we'll transition it on demand learning other key pieces of the program.


Uh, role transition really focuses on, um, on enabling our people to move into completely new roles, for example, in the field of data and analytics or dev ops, um, especially, um, or we also know that roles, certain roles will be outdated in the future. So we try to, to bring those people or very good, uh, it, people into the position to tutor and future-proof skills and, um, make their transition much easier for them. And the key thing here is that those people taking part of the role in the transition program, they will get time, um, alongside their job to actually focus on the program. And this will be for about three to six months. So we enable those people to reduce their work and get more time to actually learn and transition into their new role. And that's really, I think, a new thing, at least for our company, uh, probably also for other companies as well.


So the role transition piece is incremental for our journey to the future. And then we have our on demand learning piece, which means practically that you can learn any time, any place. Um, and I think especially when trying to become a learning organization, you need to have those options for the people. Our employees should be able to decide on their own when they have a demand to learn something. And when they have the time to do it, they should be able to do it. So this is our chance to, uh, help our people to learn whenever they want to and whatever they want to, and to give them more self responsibility for what they are actually doing. And yeah, so we have started with our on demand burning piece, um, or the stream, uh, with a pilot, um, in March this year. And we are just about to kick off our whole transition program, um, in May, 2021.


Okay. That's you see I'm coming from HR. It's not as easy as for the guys. So, um, here are some more, um, quotes from our people. So what we hear coming from the organization is that they have just been waiting for a program like forward to come forward. So that means from the top, um, to the basis of our organization, people are really eager to participate in the program. They tell us it's really something we have waited for. It helps us to make the learning easier to include it in our daily life. So, and that's exactly what we're trying to do. And if it helps us to accelerate our dev ops journey, then it's just the right time to do that.


So concluding everything that Phil and Christine I've told you, and that I've been telling you, um, we, um, we figured that crisis is something that we can do. So we knew that before COVID came around, but COVID has shown us that we as a company have the best people to, to cope with, uh, all the challenges that are out there. And even with reduced financial, um, background, um, Christian told you about it, uh, even with all the challenges, uh, skill changes, workforce reduction, and so on and so forth. We still were able to, um, enable our customers to come back from where they risk duck. Uh, we enabled them to go on a new journey wherever they want to go, uh, in the future. So, um, yeah, crisis we can do. And also the coaching aspect and the ups getting cases. So we know already that, um, you have to reinvent yourself over your career probably 10 times because the deals are, have such a short, um, life cycle.


So that means we need to focus on sharing knowledge in the company. And that enables us, for example, by bringing coaches into play or by offering, um, learning solutions like we do with the, for what program and what also helps us, or what helped us, uh, getting through the crisis. And I mean, bring up there at the end. Uh, but having clear goals is really something that is, um, yeah, making us better and focusing, um, you heard about it. So I think whenever there is something that we would like to do, uh, talk to, uh, talk about it, communicate about it and tell the people why it's necessary to do so, and then they will follow you, uh, in trends in delivering those bills, but some challenges remain. So a reassure to before getting back to our offices, uh, when COVID, uh, enables us to do so.


Um, so there will be impact on teams as well as we now see that the cultural changes coming for what, from the new domain organization are challenged for our people. So this will be interesting for us to see how this develops over the time. And also we have to make our technical debt, um, yeah, decrease. Um, you heard about it and continuously measure, um, our practices that we put into place. So I think KPIs are necessary to focus for the future and to always reflect on how successful we are with things that we're doing and yeah, your shared goals, as we heard about it are the main important thing. And now we would love to hear your experiences and feedback


If you have to. Yeah. But like to speak to us about anything we presented or have a good insight about one of the challenges we face and will face in the future. Um, yeah. Speak to us, connect with us on LinkedIn. Um, see how you would like to answer slack channels and yeah. Thank you very much for your attention. Thank you


So much. Bye.