Atlas Copco’s road to agility.

Atlas Copco’s road to agility.

Atlas Copco’s road to agility.

In short

Atlas Copco wanted to start an agile transformation for its Information Services department within the Compressor Technique Business Area (abbreviated CT-IS). CT-IS is responsible for all development and operations of commonly used Information Systems globally.

Its mission?
“To become the valued information technology and services partner driving Compressor Technique’s business”.

And their vision?
“Take data-driven, fact-based and competent decisions towards a continuous ​up-to-date technology landscape.”

The first step in their journey was getting their +300 employees in over 30 teams up to speed with what Agile means and the agile ways of working. So they knocked on our door. iLean’s Agile coach Tom van Baarle got to work with a guiding coalition and together with this team, we mapped the agile maturity, current processes, and structures and eventually trained everyone in the Agile principles and practices. Read on to find out our approach and how we helped Atlas Copco’s CT-IS team on its road to agility!

(C) Atlas Copco

It started with a dream

When iLean sat down with Atlas Copco, through De Cronos Groep which we’re part of, their request was clear: support us to increase our agility.

Atlas Copco’s goals were clear: deliver value faster, work more goal-oriented and more efficient – all according to the agile principles.

They wanted to shift their focus from financial aspects, classic project management and thoughtless use of ‘agile tools’, to real agile impact, a more transparent way of working, predictability, focus on value and becoming an even more trustworthy partner within the Altas Copco organization.

In 2022 the project kicked off for the CT-IS team, which is the IT department of the compressor technique business area within Atlas Copco. It covers about +300 employees in 30 teams and different countries.

Kris Feys, Vice President IT and IS Compressor Technique at Atlas Copco: “I wanted to implement the agile practices within the CT-IS team. To get started, I was looking for a partner to introduce the agile ways of working in a pragmatic way. Reaching out to different companies, iLean checked off the boxes for me.”

Approach: Guiding coalition of Agile transformation

The end goal was to implement a more predictable, transparent, and value-driven work environment, transforming the IT department into a trustworthy business partner rather than a mere supplier. The first step was to map out all existing structures and measure current efficiency in workflows.

We measured in several areas:

  1. Cycle time: the time between starting a particular task and delivering the end result.
  2. Throughput: how many items are processed
  3. Employee engagement: how happy, engaged or motivated people are, based on a quarterly survey

A guiding coalition was also formed, consisting of a small group of people taking ownership: Kris and Albert and the agile coaches, including Tom. The group defined some change principles to live by during the transformation journey:

  • Agile is not a goal in itself, better business outcomes are
  • start small, and start with the enthusiasts
  • one size does not fit all, even if some alignment is needed
  • aim for stable cross-functional teams, as much as possible
  • stay away from copy-pasting any scaling model, but rather use what is needed in the Atlas Copco context.

Tom van Baarle, Agile coach at iLean: “With this team, we set up a cadence (rhythm) and way of collaborating, also focusing on aligning principles with practices and tooling. The trick is to balance the ‘why’ of it all, the principles and the correct tooling.”

Albert Van Dijk, Portfolio & Controlling manager at the CT-IS team: “The reason behind it was really important to communicate. That’s why we spent a great deal on internal communication, inspiring and enthusing employees. We also measured the Agile maturity in the department and set up a reporting system to keep up to date.”

Posters in the office of Atlas Copco.


We coached more than 30 teams, but to ensure valuable impact we limited the number of teams progressing in parallel. Next to coaching teams, we also trained and coached the internal scrum masters to further grow in their role.

Tom van Baarle, Agile coach at iLean: “We used the ‘listen – train – coach’ approach, where we first listened to the employees and their needs, and then taught basic agile principles and practices in an interactive way. For example, if you didn’t achieve everything in a certain sprint, will you be planning the next sprint in the same way? During our coaching we showed the concepts of agile working, asked reflective questions, and let the teams and employees do the thinking.

Results & Lessons learned

Next to coaching teams, we also worked on lots of practical, department-wide initiatives to support the transformation:

  • Set up a SharePoint site containing a lot of info on the transformation
  • Used Viva Insights to set up an Agile community and share loads of tips and tricks
  • Started an internal newsletter
  • Organized agile community meetups
  • Spread posters on agile working in office hallways
  • Gave training sessions per team, but also general ones available for all interested Atlas Copco employees
  • Focused on practical aspects like reconsidering (agile) tooling (it doesn’t all need to be conceptual.)

What did we learn during the process?

  • Continuously reaching out to the management team is important. We didn’t do that enough.
  • Be available as Agile coach. Tom: “We started during COVID times, so it wasn’t that easy to always be physically available. We did see it’s more valuable to be at the office; people ask questions more easily and quickly as opposed to when you’re working from home.
  • Collaborate and reflect more often as a group of coaches.
  • Communicate up to the point where you are fed up with your message. Then communicate some more.

Albert Van Dijk, Portfolio & Controlling manager at Atlas Copco: “Growing from focusing on clear instructions and processes, to self-managing and self-managed teams, the teams had to formulate their own way of working – like how to structure their daily stand-up – and we noticed that it conflicted with their desire for clear and detailed guidance. But when you give specific guidance and divide certain roles, it stops being a self-managed team. A valuable lesson learned for us, is to pay more attention to these expectations and change of mindset.”

I was grateful to be able to rely on the extensive knowledge base of iLean in terms of, expertise, experience and documentation. The training material is now also used by our internal scrum masters and agile coaches!

Albert Van Dijk, Portfolio & Controlling manager at Atlas Copco

Looking back

Kris Feys, Vice President IT and IS Compressor Technique at Atlas Copco: “When we started the project, we could improve the transparency on how well or how poorly we were doing. And now we have clear transparency about that; we have put that into a system and we’re measuring it.”

“We succeeded in getting all CT-IS teams to a level of understanding of basic agile principles and practices, like making an attainable sprint planning, facilitating an impactful retrospective, following up the backlog, … That was the aim of this collaboration, and we definitely succeeded.”

What’s next

Kris Feys, Vice President IT and IS Compressor Technique at Atlas Copco:

“The next step is getting to a higher maturity across all teams. Further, we’ll focus on facts, not feelings, when we measure that maturity.”

“The ultimate dream is capacity-based value-driven working: delivering the most value, within a determined capacity. We achieved the capacity-based working, now we will focus on value-driven working.”

We’re thankful we could guide Atlas Copco through its Agile transformation journey. 🙏

Are you also in need for a partner to get your Agile transformation started?

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