Case Study

Engineering | Professional Services

Adopting agile in finance at Beca

Sprint for Tax Credits

As one of Asia Pacific’s largest independent advisory, design and engineering consultancies, Beca is at the forefront of New Zealand’s technological and scientific innovations.  When the New Zealand Government announced the R&D tax incentive, Beca created a team with the specific goal of maximising their tax credits by determining the eligibility of their projects. With financial year end approaching, the R&D team were selected to be the pilot candidate to trial agile, six weeks before their 31 March deadline.

Challenge

How might we ‘get started’ and contextualise working in a more agile way at Beca?

Results

Agile in FinanceMeasurable growth in culture and engagement within the team

Accelerated financial benefit  An additional $1 million in tax credits achieved during the six-week pilot

Capability uplift – Six Beca permanent staff have experienced agile through targeted coaching and capability uplift

Full story

Context

Beca’s Business Transformation Office (BTO) were looking to trial an agile way of working, challenging the traditional operating model that had served the company well for over a century.  Interviews with senior leadership indicated a desire to become more collaborative, adaptive and responsive across siloed business units.  The BTO needed a considered way to demonstrate to the wider business that adopting agile could improve the efficiency and effectiveness of teams.

The Beca R&D team were selected to pilot an agile way of working as their purpose had a clear financial benefit to the business and a tight deadline to meet.

 

Pivoting to agile in two days

Within two working days, Radically had provided basic agile training for the team. At kick-off, we facilitated a reset of the project vision and collaborated to develop an initial project backlog. By the following Monday, the R&D team had adopted Scrum to support their delivery.

(the project backlog) shows that the team has covered a lot of areas, and it gives me a lot of confidence that the team is focused on the right things.

- Mark Fleming, Beca CFO

The adjustment

At first, the team expressed scepticism around agile, however, the results quickly spoke for themselves. With facilitation support during planning, the team were able to align on goals and purpose at the start of each sprint. The team were encouraged to share their blockers, have collaborative conversations and solutionise together. Metrics were visualised so that the stakeholders could see how R&D tax credits were tracking. Reviews allowed for productive conversations with stakeholders rather than constant consultation. Senior leaders commented that they were able to remain out of the operational detail compared to more traditional projects.

“At first, I thought ‘wow this is really full on, lots of meetings’ but a week in, I’ve really started to see the benefits of it.”

- Nalisha Sen, Finance Business Partner, R&D

“It’s just not the way of working (we’re used to) at Beca, it’s refreshing, and I like the feeling that people own the tasks. People are accountable.”

- Julie Han, Marketing and Communications Coordinator

The results

Throughout the pilot, there was constant recognition of an improved working culture. Engagement scores taken before and after  reflected positive growth in transparency, collaboration, decision-making.

The team also accelerated progress as they worked more efficiently, costing $1 million in tax credits – far exceeding initial projections. 

This process also allowed organisational impediments to be observed, escalated and resolved effectively. Beca leaders were able to reflect on challenges created by their existing operating model and start implementing changes and recommendations with the support of Radically, resulting in a widespread shift in mindset.

The team at Beca, during a sprint review.