Roche Romania: The success of Agile methodology implementation

Deniza Cristian 28/04/2023 | 16:02

At the moment, Roche is the only company in the pharmaceutical and diagnostic industry in Romania that has adopted the new way of working based on the Agile methodology. What did this transformation mean and what are Roche’s plans for the future in Romania?


In recent years, the shift to Agile methodology has meant a new way of thinking for people in the Roche organization. We often encounter this methodology in IT companies, which is why its adoption by a pharmaceutical company in its already complex enough industry may seem like a bold decision. Which it was.

The Roche team in Romania is made up of 200 people, doctors and experts from different fields who work together for the same common goal: patient’s health. The company’s ambition is to facilitate the access of as many patients as possible to innovative treatments and ultimate diagnostic tests that improve health and prolong survival in serious diseases.

In this context, by adopting the Agile methodology, Roche reduced the time from the desired result to impact by bringing together the experience and knowledge that was already existing in the organization. More specifically, so it became possible:

  • Detachment from the hierarchy – there are no more managerial positions, just a Leadership team that acts as visionaries and mentors, inspiring colleagues to innovate, collaborate and create impactful solutions for patients, customers and the company. Each colleague understands the added value they bring to the organization, regardless of their role;
  • Transforming objectives into 90-day ambitions and outcomes – to quickly address certain situations and maintain focus on projects with impact for patients, clients, the external environment and the organization;
  • The transformation of classic departments into squads with diverse experience (commercial, medical, marketing) – a new organization of the structure into teams, some of them permanent, others fluid. Thus, collective knowledge and experience are brought together to deliver solutions quickly fostering innovation;
  • Creation and involvement in ”work packages”; – projects in which colleagues from the organization may be involved who do not necessarily have technical expertise, but who want to develop, contribute and broaden their professional horizons;
  • Autonomous teams – it took a change of mindset and habits for Roche to have functional, autonomous teams that make decisions together without the need for additional approvals, much faster for the benefit of the patients;
  • Using resources from the global Roche network – either from other affiliates in other countries or regionally / globally. All colleagues from Romania and from other countries can contribute to various projects. Thus, they can develop their skills and grow in the organization by getting involved in projects / work packages on regional or global level;
  • Redefining the career concept – all these changes in the organization had a major impact on the employees and on the organizational culture. To support the organizational culture change, it was necessary to redefine the career concept within Roche, of performance management, from a standard approach to a personalized approach based on skills and not on hierarchy;
  • Learning organization – because only through collective knowledge and real-time learning can we rapidly adapt to changes in the ecosystem.

”Starting in 2019, Roche decided to implement the Agile work methodology and it worked. We have managed to step out of the old working methodologies and instead stepped in the favor of innovation and improving project development. And to further help people achieve the company’s vision, we’ve reduced the hierarchical structure, simplified our processes, and optimized them to increase the impact that each employee can have every day in the company”, Iulia Stanca, People & Culture Roche Romania.

The direction that the Roche company chose to follow in Romania is to have an environment where leaders are actually facilitators, focused on coaching and developing people’s ability to make decisions.

What is different about Roche’s transformation is the courage to make a total change, at the level of all Roche affiliates around the world, in an industry known for its traditional and regulated way of operating. Even under these conditions, the Agile methodology has proven to be a success.

Roche first entered the Romanian market and opened the office in Bucharest almost 100 years ago.

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