Dutch Tax and Customs Administration speeds delivery by 3X while transforming long-established culture
“We are delivering faster and more predictably than in the past, which has changed many minds and driven a shift in long-ingrained ways of working.”
—Mark Braam, IT Manager/RTE, Interaction Services at DTCA
Behind every SAFe transformation, there’s a corresponding cultural shift. And there’s perhaps no environment where that’s tougher to change than in government.
That’s what makes our latest case study so impactful. The Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (DTCA) has typically been very process-oriented and risk-averse, and as such, technology evolves slowly. The agency, one of the largest in the Netherlands, employs 26,000 people and is responsible for collecting taxes and customs, and extending tax credits and benefits to Dutch residents.
A few years ago, a move toward a Lean approach led the agency to apply Scrum practices. But those practices alone were not enough to achieve goals such as improving delivery times and elevating quality.
Then groups at DTCA turned to SAFe for the alignment and transparency to bring the business and IT together.
Early on, the push came from the bottom-up, with skepticism regarding the amount of time needed for training and planning events. But as teams produced results, they gained more support from the business and leadership, and interest from other divisions.
As we know from hundreds of other implementations, education and training is essential to influencing leadership and reforming the long-ingrained practices, and such was the case with DTCA. In fact, individuals who worked at DTCA for decades noticed a significant cultural shift since adopting SAFe. Product Owners are more involved from start to finish, teams are self-organizing, and all parties now collaborate and discuss considerably more than before.
The organization has driven notable results across two large ARTs and within a few smaller ARTs:
- More frequent releases – Major releases come out 3X more often, from 4 to 12 in a year.
- Improved software quality/technical debt – DTCA improved quality by reducing the number of ‘problems’ by 80 percent, and security issues by 87 percent (one division).
- Less management overhead – The number of people with the word ‘manager’ in their titles dropped in half. These individuals moved into other roles.
- Increased engagement – People are more engaged, connected with each other, and willing to help others.
For more inspiration and insights from DTCA’s SAFe journey, check out the complete case study.
Special thanks to those who helped create the DTCA case study, including Mark Braam, IT Manager/RTE; Dennis Roozemond, RTE; Ramzi Barkoudah, RTE; and Siebren Biesma, Process Director for Supervision.