We’ve helped companies of all sizes across all industries transform their businesses. Read more about our experience and how we make business transformation happen

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Business Agile

Leadership development of Northvolt’s senior leadership and executive team to build the leadership for the future

Ascend is partnering with Northvolt to develop the company’s top 60 leaders and executive team in the Multiplier concept, established by Liz Wiseman, coaching, decision making and Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). The behaviours and skills taught in the program are seen as vital to ensure Northvolt’s future success and ability to reach ambitious targets.

Ascend partnering with Northvolt to develop a next level leadership program

The front-running company Northvolt has a bold and simple plan – to enable the future of energy by developing the world’s greenest battery cell and establishing a European supply of batteries. With a mission to deliver batteries with an 80% lower carbon footprint than those made using coal energy, Northvolt is manufacturing its batteries with clean energy. The Swedish-based company was founded in 2016 and is growing rapidly, with 2500 employees today.

In the strive to enable the future of energy, an important ingredient is to succeed with leadership during scale-up. Therefore, Northvolt has, together with Ascend, developed a leadership program covering:

  • What motivates us, and how to create a motivating environment. Multiplier’s behaviour, how you as a leader can get more out of every person in your team by shifting your leadership. 
  • Accidental diminishers behaviour that focuses on what of your natural positive behaviours could have a diminishing effect instead. 
  • How to work with coaching and decision-making to strengthen your team. 
  • OKR steering and implementation with a focus on how to move from output to outcome and get better results in your organization.

Being part of the multiplier program has been a great opportunity to talk about leadership, get new insights and reflect on myself as a multiplier as well as my accidental diminishers. It has made me more self aware, which is a key factor to become a better leader, as well created an opportunity to get to know even more fellow leaders within Northvolt.

Maria Åstrand, Vice President Active Material

The program runs for all senior leaders and the executive management team within Northvolt. The ambition of the program is to set the leadership framework for Northvolt and enable all senior leaders to get adequate tools and skills to lead the company efficiently. The program has several clinics where the participants are introduced to different objectives and challenged in exercises and discussions. In addition, each leader has one-to-one coaching to get support on how to tackle specific challenges and grow as a leader. We are proud to say that the leadership program is performing well, providing participants with real challenges to train for and learn from. As three participants from the program say:

“I have undergone many leadership trainings, but this is the best and most practically useful I have ever experienced”

“Great program, I really hope it reaches a broad audience at Northvolt”

“This has been awesome, hands-on learnings and great to get better aligned with colleagues how we lead at Northvolt”

Johanna Häägg

Manager

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Business Simulations

Getting a global sales organization ready for the challenges of tomorrow

In order to meet a rapidly changing business environment, Ericsson needed to enhance the skills and capabilities within the sales force. Therefore, Ascend designed and delivered a sales simulation where the participants practised their value-creation and negotiation skills in a realistic environment, receiving coaching and feedback from senior executives and Ascend experts.

For us, it’s about taking the next level from traditional learning to experiential learning where you have to demonstrate your abilities in front of everyone else. It’s better that they get to do the trial and error in that environment rather than in front of a customer. The biggest challenge of any training or learning interaction is creating that stickiness. You learn something, but will that mean you automatically also change behaviour? With a simulation where you actually have to demonstrate your skills and learnings is a really good way of creating that stickiness.

Sven-Åke Damgaard, VP, Head of Sales Excellence 

Petter Lundgren

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Business Technology

Delivering high-value services by modernizing an IT operating model

Processes aligned with value streams, a centralized service model, and redefined roles delivered precise services and responsibilities, resulting in optimized and valuable outcomes.

There are a lot of challenges running an IT operating model successfully at large enterprise IT organizations. Ascend designed a modern IT operating model and executed the transformation by conducting thorough analyses and identifying challenges. As a result, the project resulted in improved abilities to deliver high value services.

Removing the blockers to performance and putting in the groundwork for excellence.

Johan Åström, Project Lead

A large enterprise IT organization experienced challenges related to its IT operating model. This caused low-value output from the delivered services. With challenge areas ranging from lacking financial control and unclear service catalogues to inadequate governance models and vague role descriptions, Ascend supported the client’s IT Operating model Design & Transformation. 

Ascend facilitated a workshop series in a modern, inclusive setting where vital internal stakeholders contributed. As a result, the journey accelerated toward the wanted state and its needed solutions by getting a common understanding of the current state early in the process. Four key areas were used as guiding pillars in the workshops, which helped pinpoint the operational model’s challenges and enabled solutions to emerge. 

  1. Value streams – Start viewing services as flows of value 
  2. Service model – Centralizing and defining clear services brings higher service control and greater customer outcomes
  3. Roles – Redefining roles and responsibilities deliver a clear value in the right places
  4. Processes – Aligning processes supports lean value streams and high-end services

As the areas helped define strategic improvements to reduce the risks and challenges, the organization set up a transformation program and set their minds toward change. With processes aligned with value streams, it was possible to convert unclear solutions to customers’ high-value services. Additionally, a centralized service model and redefined roles delivered clear services and responsibilities, resulting in optimized and valuable outcomes.

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Johan Åström

Partner

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Business Technology

Cyber security strategy and organization

Reshaping the cyber security organization to set a new strategy and make the needed changes to the organization and ways of working towards a more mature and agile cyber security function.

Ascend in prolonged engagement with OMX30 company to establish a new cyber security strategy and organization

Ascend came in after the client had experienced a severe cyberattack and needed to make improvements fast. Ascend consultants assisted in establishing a program to quickly set up new capabilities required, such as Incident Response, Vulnerability Management and End Point Protection. But this was only the start of a long journey. For two years, multiple Ascend consultants supported reshaping the cyber security organization to set a new strategy and make the needed changes to the organization and ways of working towards a more mature and agile cyber security function.

Establishing an MSS delivery model

The client wanted to move towards a Managed Security Service setup from a classic time and material contract. Ascend secured the business needs through the sourcing process with multiple suppliers and implemented the change of decided supplier in less than three months without delivery disturbances.

Swift implementation to handle pandemic requirements of safe user connectivity

As the pandemic forced most of the client’s employees to work remotely, the remote connectivity solution was pushed well beyond its limits. Ascend consultants worked closely with security technicians to secure business decisions and drive progress in a complex, global and decentralized organization to move towards an alternative solution. The implementation enabled the possibility for a 30,000+ organization to work remotely after just a few months from business decision.

Organizational development

Cyber security was one of the few areas in all businesses that increased speed during the Covid-19 pandemic. The client needed to continue the fast change, which is constant in Cyber security and even more so during a pandemic. Ascend consultants worked in multiple dimensions of organizational design and implementation. New ways of working and redefined roles and responsibilities were established to suit the unique and previously unknown situation. 

Interim managerial positions and coaching

Organizational changes with new teams can inevitably lead to gaps in managerial positions. Therefore, Ascend supported the growth of new “first time” managers to identify tools for complex employee situations and reflect on how to improve everyday manager responsibilities. 

Ascend also took on several managerial positions parallel to the recruitments to secure leadership during the gap periods. The teams varied between 4-10 employees and resulted in stable teams for the newly hired managers to take over. 

Ascend consultants transformed cyber security from a technical organization to a business driven and value realization function. Cyber security will always be controlling, but we need to help the business to understand that this is a hygiene factor to be a relevant business partner.

Anton Tornberg, Project Lead

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Business Technology

Cloud strategy to accelerate consumer product digitalization

A global manufacturing company was in an early stage of its journey to cloud, where they needed to align and formalize a common strategic direction. Ascend helped the customer with a company-wide cloud strategy and a high-level execution roadmap for the cloud adoption – providing a mutually agreed way forward for their continued cloud adoption.

Ascend designed a cloud strategy and supported in the cloud adoption

Like many others, the client had started exploring cloud technologies un-coordinated in various places in the organization. At the same time, their IT was delivered from multiple sources; their own data centres, partner-managed data centres, and several public cloud providers with Microsoft Azure as the primary vendor. Some initial work had been done to set up a structure for cloud usage, for example, establishing a cloud billing model. However, the client experienced difficulties in terms of realizing the real potentials of utilizing public cloud. We have seen that many organizations experience this type of challenge in the early stages of their cloud adoption journey. But how do you make your cloud adoption take off from here?

Ascend was asked to develop a cloud strategy that would enable efficient usage and realize the values with public cloud while preventing sub-optimization across the organization.

Ascend believes it is important to quickly get a good overview of the current situation when approaching this kind of project, so Ascend immediately adopted an iterative way of working together with key stakeholders. The next step was to investigate the present circumstances regarding public cloud usage and the opportunities and challenges with cloud adoption. From there, we could identify the key strategic questions in terms of public cloud and capture the areas where there was a need for further clarification. 

Together with the stakeholders in the client organization and our IT consulting sister company Ionic, Ascend developed the client’s cloud strategy – with target definition, alignment to the business strategy and guiding principles for cloud. Together with our formulated high-level execution roadmap, the strategy became important pillars in driving the continued movement to cloud.

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Niklas Wiklund

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Business Technology

Business values, cost savings and risks showcased through a cloud business case

Modernizing a traditional and fragmented enterprise infrastructure in a large global corporation is a challenge for most companies. Public Cloud is a potential enabler of unlocking business values and saving operational costs, but the journey towards Public Cloud comes with risks and challenges.

Ascend identified business value opportunities by performing a cloud business case.

As a global telecom company, delivering enterprise applications is a complex mission. The company’s group IT function provides the compute power for the applications, enabling the business towards the customers. However, the compute power was delivered by an outsourcing partner mainly from on-prem data centres, which was challenging to modernize and change flexibly and simply. One possibility to overcome this was to migrate the vast majority of the on-prem enterprise landscape to Public Cloud. In order to understand business implications and form a basis for a decision, Ascend developed a scenario-based business case comparing the renewal of the current outsourcing contract with migrating 80% of the enterprise compute landscape to Public Cloud. 

Ascend used an iterative approach to evaluate costs, business values and risks. The first step was to agree and document the scope of the environment, create a common view of the current state and align with the existing strategy of the client’s Group IT. Next, Ascend conducted a qualitative and quantitative analysis with both internally and externally collected data. Information was gathered through system data gathering and probing of the current environment to have a solid view based on facts, which was validated with internal stakeholders as well as the Public Cloud suppliers. In addition to probing the environment in scope, the Public Cloud suppliers also engaged in giving their view of potential business values and considerations for succeeding with the transformation. 

The business case concluded that moving to public cloud would add significant business values, lower costs, and prepare the organization for the future. The main values were increasing the speed of development, improving resilience, and increasing ease of use. While some of these values were easier to unlock, others needed effort and time from the organization to be realized. Identified cost savings were substantial, with long-term optimization possibilities. Reaching cost savings depends on making the right technical and architectural decisions and approach and management of the transformation. In addition to the direct values, key long-term benefits include the virtually unlimited scalability of public cloud and the enablement of modern ways of working, including automation, infra-as-code and DevOps, allowing tech teams to focus on building value.

In assessing the prerequisites for successfully driving the transformation, the build-up of competence internally and with partners – both for the transformation journey and the target organization – was seen as critical. While there were risks identified with a transformation to the public cloud, staying on-prem was higher. 

The fact-based, data-driven approach by Ascend was a success factor in developing the business case. The early engagement of public cloud suppliers gave a clear view on scope, values, costs and increased the confidence of conclusions. In addition, Ascend used an iterative approach where stakeholders were regularly involved, resulting in a solid and well-anchored basis for a decision.

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Clara Calmered

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Business Technology

Data lake enables consistent and simplified data consumption

The project’s purpose was to simplify data use in the organization by ensuring that all consumers have access to the same data sets. A data lake gives this consistent and facilitated data consumption, which enables efficient decision-making.

Ascend managed the project and driving the change together with the client’s development team

The client, a global manufacturing company, wanted to provide a single source of data readily available for different consumption use cases. The idea was to bring consistency and simplify data consumption by ensuring that all consumers have access to the same data sets. This required developing a “data lake” which ingested data from key sources throughout the organization. Ascend supported the client by managing the project and driving the change together with the client’s development team.

As a strategic initiative, the central IT department’s vision was to provide a single source of data that was cleansed, consistent, and readily available for consumption for reporting, dashboards, and other use cases. 

This required developing a data lake that ingested data from crucial sources throughout the organization’s system landscape. Main benefits for the project included: 

  • Removing/avoiding unnecessary work and complex dependencies for the future consumption of data 
  • No application-to-application integration for consumption of data, which is bad design and creates dependency and costs related to upgrades on either side
  • Any change of source system means to change only for the data lake; feeding systems will require minimal to no change
  • Planned data consumption includes data warehouses, chatbots, robotics, business intelligence through dashboards and reporting. Using a single source ensures that all consumers have access to the same data sets, bringing consistency throughout the organization. 

Ascend’s role was to drive and manage the project by leading the development team with solution/system architects and database developers. The project was sequenced into two phases:

1) Design & development of a solution. This phase included ingestion of primary data sources and establishing the data lake as a service.

2) Enrichment of data sets and ingestion of new sources. This phase also included the development of dashboards and reporting, which targeted two areas:

  • Automation of existing reporting that is created manually
  • Creating reporting with new insights which had previously not been possible when data sets had existed in isolation. 

The project was successful; data lake was launched as a service, and multiple use cases were realized within a short period of its inception. The project’s success factors were that Ascend provided a deep understanding of the data and the quality of the information. This enabled great results and accuracy to be ensured in the data lake, which facilitates efficient decision-making through data consumption.

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Johan Åström

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Business Technology

Product organization to increase customer-centricity, speed and collaboration

A shift in customer demand required improved digital capabilities. As a result, a comprehensive transformation program was initiated to design and develop a new product organization.

Ascend supported in increasing customer-centricity, speed and collaboration

The client, a global telecom company, experienced shifts in customer demands. They were determined that they needed to improve their digital capabilities to increase customer-centricity, speed, and flexibility. As a result, the company started a comprehensive transformation program, including implementing a product organization across their IT organization. Ascend supported developing and designing the product organization and ensured that necessary resources and competencies were in place!

The client had identified four main goals with the transformation to a product organization;

  1. Make it easier to do business with them
  2. Deliver excellent impact to customers
  3. Enable customers to grow
  4. Become a lot faster in their operations.

An overall product organization model was developed – but how do you go from concept to practical implementation? Ascend was asked to support the cloud services organization within the company to develop and design the product area based on the product organization concept.

Together with key stakeholders in the organization, Ascend formulated a hypothesis on the high-level product team design. The transformation was extensive, so the team decided to start with areas that had specific urgency and priority. The Ascend team supported in designing and dimensioning the product teams and implementing the new organization, including union negotiations and organizational communication. One challenge for the organization was to attain the necessary competence in all product teams, which Ascend also contributed to by supporting the sourcing process of identifying and securing agreements with relevant competence partners. To ensure transparency and ensure alignment with all key stakeholders, Ascend worked in an iterative approach with continuous input and feedback from the different stakeholders and held weekly demos with the management team to present the progress. The work resulted in a new product organization structure for the cloud services organization. Team resources, managers and responsibilities were clearly defined for each product team – and necessary competencies were secured. The new product organization balanced team autonomy with centralized control, enabling each product team to increase customer-centricity, speed, and flexibility while ensuring a common direction and secure operations across the company.

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Erik Wingård

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Business Technology

Self-driving vehicle fleet for next generation airports

Designing an automation strategy and new technology concepts supporting the goal to introduce electrified self-driving vehicles to all the airport company’s locations.

Ascend designing automation strategy

A large airport company shifted from a traditional vehicle fleet to an automated and electrified vehicle fleet. The end goal was clear – to introduce electrified self-driving vehicles to all the airport company’s locations! However, getting there was a bit more difficult as the airport had about 1000 vehicles, many driven on fossil fuel or gas. Ascend helped the customer set the automation strategy and supported in introducing new enabling technology concepts. 

Moving to mostly automated and electrical vehicles seemed to be challenging; many aspects needed to be considered; security, infrastructure, efficiency, knowledge gap, re-allocation of work tasks for employees, sourcing processes and a lot more. How do you even start that transformation? In our experience, this is where many organizations get a little bit too excited, wanting to do it all at once and expect to get there quickly. 

With a high ambition but a realistic approach, the customer developed a strategy and a plan, partnered up with manufacturers, and started the automation journey. The program set up five pilot projects to try and evaluate the most beneficial vehicle type to begin with. By working closely with vehicle manufacturing partners, Ascend quickly assessed and prioritized the cases with the highest potential. One heavy work vehicle and one light work vehicle were selected to move into the project phase. 

The first sourcing project resulted in self-driving snowploughs for the landing strip at their largest airports. A snowplough is 27 meters long, and to shovel a landing strip eight snowploughs are used and drives after each other. The precision and time to preform the shovelling improved when introducing the automated snowploughs. Now the automation journey continues with new projects in line with the strategy. 

Breaking new ground in a technology area is some much more than just tech, it is an investment in your staff, your brand and company culture as well.

Johanna Häägg, Project Manager

Before the project started, there were worries like; Why go into an area with new and untested technology? Why not just wait until someone else has tested and developed it? That’s why one of the key takeaways from the project was extra exciting to see; the investment in the staff. The amount of knowledge and culture the organization was built upon was clearly a key strength and knowing they can lead the way and shape the future and not just follow others. It clearly showed that technology investments in organizations are a lot more than just technology, which is what Business Tech is all about at Ascend.

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Johanna Häägg

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We’ve helped companies of all sizes across all industries transform their businesses. Read more about our experience and how we make business transformation happen

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Business Agile

Agile HR for an increased employee experience

Ascend supported an HR department that wanted to improve employee experience and increase efficiency in internal processes by introducing agile tools and processes and establishing cross-functional teams in the organization.

Ascend introducing agile mindset

An HR department with about 200 employees wanted to transform its organization to deliver a better employee experience. The goal was to develop HR processes faster, be more flexible when peaks occurred in the organization, and minimize the internal negative perception of the HR functions. To do this, Ascend introduced an agile mindset and established a cross-functional collaboration to realize the full potential of different competencies and knowledge in the organization.

For an HR department, the primary delivery is to support the business in day-to-day questions and quickly respond to business needs while developing new HR services and improving existing processes. Therefore, the question was how to create an agile operating model that supports daily business needs and continuous development.

Together with the client, Ascend created the change in two key perspectives:

  • From a traditional and hierarchical HR department to an organization built on cross-functional delivery teams supported by agile methodology and tools. The autonomous teams supported by their managers were trusted to handle almost all HR questions directly, such as talent acquisitions and compensation questions, and provide strategic guidance to managers, thus creating a smooth employee experience.
  • The department transformed from a top-down steered organization to steering guided by Objective and Key Results (OKRs), where all teams contributed to creating the department’s strategic direction. The 3-year rhythm for planning and prioritization enabled the organization to adapt and respond faster to external impact and internal business needs.

One key success factor was creating sustainable leadership by training the leaders to get the prerequisites to support teams with a high degree of autonomy and self-leadership.

The final result was an agile HR department with a high satisfaction rate and a high degree of self-motivation and leadership. An organization that can adapt fast to changing needs and rely on the people in the organization is an organization that is well prepared for the future.

Get in touch

Oscar Forsslund

Manager

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