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Sunweb Group

Laying the foundation for future-proof scalability

A European travel giant


Sunweb Group is one of Europe's leading travel companies, with brands operating in seven international markets. As an online operator of package holidays to sun and winter sports destinations, Sunweb has a team of more than 500 people, complemented by 400 traveling representatives at destinations, who support customers on their holiday.


Sunweb has a long history of success during more than 30 years in business (including being voted the best ski tour operator five times). Looking to the future, the company has ambitious plans to grow and become the No. 1 provider of travel services in Europe. They plan to achieve this by: incorporating new partners, expanding activity to new markets, mergers and acquisitions, and adding more sustainable traveling options. 


To achieve this goal, Sunweb needs to scale their organization and number of teams, whilst remaining efficient in its execution. To achieve this, we posed questions to determine the obstacles hindering the company's scalability, such as how to strike a balance between specialized domain knowledge and the utilization of universal technical capabilities like containers, access management, deployment pipelines, and architectural standards.


The quest for excellence


Sunweb partnered with Thoughtworks over the course of four weeks, to assess the current state of their technological organization and solutions; and identify potential areas for improvement. The first two weeks were devoted to getting as much information as possible about the current state. This included gathering information on their software architecture, coding practices reviews, team structure, product thinking, and engineering practices. The team presented their recommendations, with a focus on priority areas such as product thinking, roles and responsibilities, knowledge management, and third party dependency management. The next step focused on validating their findings and recommendations, and formulating more detailed recommendations for the priority area and teams, including how to alleviate potential problems of scale. 


The journey to become a leader starts with a precise strategy


The assessment concluded with the creation of a roadmap for implementing the proposed recommendations for their entire Tech department. All these recommendations focused on the areas of teams product mindset and practices, roles and responsibilities, knowledge management and technical dependencies. They included reducing the amount of mental effort required by teams, concentrating their efforts by utilizing Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), identifying deficiencies in team capabilities, separating primary business functions from third-party solutions, and making gradual changes to processes and technology simultaneously. More detailed recommendations were given for three of Sunweb’s development teams, and a toolbox to further self-assess and enable other teams to do so too. 


With solid technical and cultural foundations now in place, and an ongoing partnership with Thoughtworks to continue to evolve the organization, we can only foresee success for this ambitious travel company.


Sunweb’s planned growth this year requires us to build a scalable and future-proof tech organization. For that, stable foundations to support these ambitious plans are needed. We trusted Thoughtworks' experience to partner and help us on this journey.
Oriol Pueyo
Head of IT Spain, Sunweb Group

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