Digital Transformation Programme for a Telco

Following the acquisition of a competitor, Telenet embarked on an ambitious programme to rationalise their core IT platforms onto a single stack and drive a digital transformation that would provide their business with a simplified IT environment and the ability to deliver changes to their customers in a more agile and effective way. 


Project One was engaged to provide programme management for the Darwin Transformation Programme fulfilling the Programme Director, Business Change Lead and Project Management Office (PMO) roles. 


Following the acquisition of a competitor, a strategic review of the core IT platforms was undertaken, including the critical CRM (customer servicing) and BSS (system of record, customer billing) systems across the two companies. The aim of the exercise was to develop an approach to consolidate the key IT systems onto a single platform to serve both customer bases.  


The vision developed was for Telenet to design and build a platform that would realise a clear ‘Digital First’ strategy to increase digitisation for customers on both the BASE & Telenet brands. Driving real and tangible simplification was also at the heart of the thinking, for example, less development, more configuration, and empowering people to be able to drive faster change. 


As a result, the Darwin Programme was conceived to integrate the two highly successful companies onto a single platform. The business case was based on retiring BASE legacy systems, optimising operations, enabling customers to self-serve, and driving Business (Corporate Customer) sales. 


‘Darwin is a true business-wide transformation; it is about empowering our people and simplifying our processes underpinned by a new digital platform.’ 


To achieve this goal, the programme would need to develop three major systems, integrate them into the remaining operational systems, and bring together all the people from with Telenet and their partners, to deliver a comprehensive digital transformation of the Telenet business.  


The three systems formed the heart of the Origin platform but there was also a significant integration effort into existing IT and network systems across Telenet. There were over 600 integration points with Origin from across the Telenet estate. 


In addition, a vast number of Telenet teams were involved. Over the lifetime of the programme, 90 different Squads/ Centres of Excellence have been part of the overall delivery, and these have contributed anything from minor updates to interfaces, to major components of the solution architecture. 


‘At the height of the Programme, over 600 people in Belgium and across the world were working to deliver Darwin’. 


With such a large programme to deliver, it was essential that the delivery was based on some core principles and structures that would drive the progress to reach the ambitious goals of the programme. 


  • Building a culture of one programme across all the organisations and people involved in delivery. 
  • A programme structure and method that emphasised pace and quality of delivery. 
  • A governance approach that that put business leaders at the heart of the decision making within the programme. 



Programme Culture 


Early on, it was a very conscious choice to ensure that there was no blame culture. Transformation on this scale relies on pace and decisive decisions and everyone was empowered to make decisions knowing they would be supported if any rework was needed. 


The Darwin Programme was allocated a dedicated office suite at the Telenet HQ in Mechelen from which to execute the programme. By co-locating the core team in a fresh and Darwin-branded environment, the leadership was able to drive a strong programme identity and sense of belonging, regardless of the company name on everyone’s badge. 



Programme structure and method 


The programme utilised a high degree of parallel activity across each of the three phases: 


1. Blueprinting – requirements definition and solutioning. Teams worked in 8-week sprints to complete the detailed designs for tranches of scope which were then passed into the Development Teams. All the Blueprinting effort was led by business product owners with the relevant Analysts and Solution Architects working within their teams. These streams covered key underlying business processes e.g. Lead to Order, Order to Bill, Bill to Cash, Billing and Product Modelling. Darwin Blueprinting has generated 1550 Epics and 6486 IT User Stories. 


‘This business-led approach was key to securing, and maintaining, business buy-in over the sustained period required to deliver such a complex transformation as Darwin.’ 


2. Development – at the end of each Blueprinting sprint the designs were passed to the Development Teams. They completed their Unit and Integration Testing, and code was then deployed to Production in integrated release packages every 12 weeks.

3. System Integration Testing (SIT)/ Business Acceptance Testing (BAT) and Deployment into operation – E2E testing was completed across the Origin by validating E2E business flows covering the full scope of BASE & Telenet’s services. SIT was completed by a dedicated Test Team, BAT was completed by ‘Darwineers,’ people seconded from the business operations teams who brought real world experience. The SIT Team executed over 90k Test Cases and raised over 22,500k bugs. 



Governance and programme leadership 


Running such a complex, multi-year, geographically dispersed Transformation Programme as Darwin required strong governance. A strong programme leadership model was embedded in Darwin from the outset based on an overarching Steering Group for the Programme, and contributory IT/ Technology & Business Change governance boards.  


The business was fully embedded in Darwin along with IT from day one. A dedicated Business Change workstream was a core part of the Programme Delivery Team, focused on driving the requirements and solutioning, and to prepare the organisation for the changes that Darwin was delivering. Business Change drove key elements such as Business Acceptance Testing (BAT) for each release, Friendly User Trials with real customers, and defect prioritisation based on customer/ channels impact. 


The Origin Launch Group (OLG) was formed as the first ‘Go-live’ approached and remained in place. It became a key weekly forum bringing together senior leaders from across the Commercial Business, Channels, Back Office Operations, IT, and the Darwin Programme, to provide direction and steering. 


‘The decision to initiate Darwin was a decision that the whole Telenet SLT made together. This support from the top, and continued engagement throughout the duration of the Programme has been the critical success factor.’ 


The Darwin Programme has transformed Telenet with the delivery of Origin against the stated objectives; 


  • Fully Multi-Brand – Origin has both BASE and Telenet customers co-existing on the same platform
  • Customer Centric/ Digital First – new eShops have been built on Origin for both BASE & Telenet and many of the Care flows have been/ are being exposed to drive even greater levels of self-service
  • Supports M&A – Telenet have made further acquisitions and planning is underway to move corporate customers from an acquisition onto Origin
  • Omni-Channel – Origin supports the Digital/Self-Serve, Retail and Contact Centre channels on one platform, there are over 3700 active internal users
  • Enables Future Products – speed to market has been improved for new proposition releases and the product range has been increased beyond mobile to other lines such as TV’s. 


Origin has fundamentally changed how Telenet operates, with greater autonomy unlocked by a more configurable platform empowering their people. Origin has meant the need for new skills and a new mind-set. 


Telenet has moved to an Agile model whilst Darwin has been delivering. Elements of Darwin have been Agile since the Programme started, whilst other deliveries, such as the BSS system were completed under a waterfall model. The programme integrated three different delivery approaches into one overall method that pulled all team together in a common way of working. 


“Darwin has delivered a mission critical IT platform at the very core of Telenet by commissioning leading edge ‘best of breed’ products and integrating them in a truly innovative way. I am incredibly proud that Telenet had the vision to commit to this programme to benefit our people and our customers, and even prouder to see it brought to life.” Micha Berger, CTIO 


“In a highly competitive market, Origin is allowing us to innovate for our customers and respond to our competition, giving our Commercial Teams a toolbox and enabling the drive to the customer intimacy we aspire to.” Dieter Nieuwdorp, EVP Residential & SOHO Business.



Project One Value Add 


Project One provided two senior experienced leaders for the duration of the programme who were completely independent from the Partner teams. This independence allowed the leadership to always focus on the best outcomes and delivery path for Telenet with clarity of mind. 


The programme showcases Project One’s capability in 


  • Delivering large, very complex transformation and change programmes 
  • Bring a culture of working at pace and focusing on the right outcomes 
  • Enabling companies to succeed with their biggest digital transformation challenges. 

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