Scrum and agile at BNP Paribas Fortis:
insights from Bart en Oumaima
For BNP Paribas Fortis, it’s crucial to be successful and remain so. Because needs change, consumers become more demanding, and digital developments never stop. That’s why they opt for an agile organizational structure. We spoke with Oumaima Bougrine and Bart Evenepoel about the role they play as scrum masters and discussed the diversity of their job.
Scrum within agile work is actually a project management method for monitoring collaboration within teams. “We quickly identify feedback and issues, allowing us to resolve everything at a rapid pace. After all, we all work hard to ensure our customers have the best,” says Oumaima.
A mix of coach, facilitator, people, and project manager
The scrum master provides the teams with a welcome mix of people and deliver management to quickly respond to changing customer needs. Being a scrum master is a highly varied job, as evident from quotes from our scrum masters.
As scrum masters, Bart and Oumaima focus on ensuring the collaboration of their team. “It’s a bit like a puzzle,” says Bart. “Scrum isn’t rocket science, but as a scrum master, you need to ensure that your team works concretely towards something. We constantly seek ways to fit all the puzzle pieces together in a way that everyone feels good about. It’s important for each team member to maintain their uniqueness and way of thinking. This way, we end up with a beautiful puzzle where all the pieces fit together.”
However, as a scrum master, you also need to adapt to the team you work with. “In some teams, every sprint is a deliverable, while in others, it’s just a small component,” adds Oumaima.
According to Oumaima, the scrum master has various responsibilities: “Coaching, conflict management, change management, (quarterly) planning, risk management, facilitating difficult conversations, and so much more. As a scrum master, you’re essentially responsible for everything that could happen within the team.” Does that mean you need to have knowledge about everything? Absolutely not. “For example, I didn’t even have an IT background when I started here a few years ago. If a technical topic arises that the developer knows more about than the scrum master, we involve that person in the project to later explain everything comprehensibly. This way, we limit the need for constant meetings, allowing everyone to focus on their own tasks. If someone needs help, we assist where necessary.”
A day in the life of … a scrum master
Planning, review, and refinement
At the beginning of a sprint (or subproject), the scrum masters, together with the product owner, create the planning. They determine the priorities for the teams, so everyone knows exactly what the sprint needs to deliver within a specific timeframe, usually two weeks.
Once the roadmap is set, the sprint kicks off. “We start each day with a stand-up and usually ask the team three questions. What did you do yesterday, what will you do today, and what obstacles are you facing? This way, we can take action if there are any issues or assign additional work if team members have spare capacity,” continues Bart. Throughout the following days, everyone works on their respective tasks. The scrum master handles administrative to-do’s and monitors task progress in the planning. If something stands out, a task is delayed, or team members need feedback, the scrum master steps in to identify and address those problems.
Sprint review and retrospective
When the sprint is completed, Bart emphasizes the importance of reflecting on the past weeks. “Through constant feedback loops, we assess whether we’re moving at the right pace to achieve the goals. Then, we look back and evaluate the collaboration during the sprint. What did we accomplish, and what could be improved? The scrum masters define improvement actions that will be useful in the next sprint.”
Can anyone become a scrum master?
Absolutely! “As a scrum master, you need to positively influence the team spirit of your team. You must be able to manage your team on a day-to-day basis while considering the different personalities,” says Oumaima. Bart agrees and adds that scrum masters balance between the human aspect, team spirit, and the bank’s strategic vision. The agile mindset also requires continuous change. If you want to grow as a scrum master and join a different team, that’s definitely an option. Each team has different dynamics, so as a scrum master, you’ll always keep learning.
According to Bart, the most important skill is undoubtedly a can-do attitude. “Tackling problems together, energizing a group, and bringing a dose of assertiveness. With the right mindset, you can go a long way, and you learn the rest on the job. At BNP Paribas Fortis, you truly have the opportunity to grow and, over time, learn how to involve people in the bigger picture.”
So, don’t hesitate about a job as a scrum master, even if you have little experience. With the right mindset, necessary training, and workshops, you can become the perfect fit for this role.
Ready to start your journey as a scrum master at BNP Paribas Fortis?
Time to join our collab with BNP Paribas Fortis! A traineeship where you’ll learn everything you need to become a skilled scrum master. Are you ready for this exciting traineeship filled with coaching, training, and growth opportunities?