Bootstrapping Agile Delivery inside Financial Services

A great deal has been written about Agile in recent years and although most financial firms have already embraced this method over traditional waterfall ways of working within the product and IT domains, few have properly been able to transform to their organisations’ operations around a progressive multi-disciplined agile agenda.

For us, bootstrapping agile delivery is not just about spinning up cross functional teams consisting largely of IT, UX and product people. That’s easy; the banks have been doing that for at least 3 years. It’s about empowerment, building a culture of trust and having the confidence to fail knowing that this is part of a process that improves the customer experience in a positive way.

Empowerment comes from a team makeup that covers not only the front line customer touchpoints, but the UX, BA, engineering, testing, support, product and operational functions across your organisation. Unless those are empowered to directly impact the direction of the product through the lens of the customer experience and interaction, you’re just playing at it.

It is about owning the customer problem and solving that digitally because that is where the customer is.

The culture of trust starts with saying no. Years of working with some of the largest global banks in the world, has shown us one glaringly obvious problem with the relationship between supply and demand; there’s little trust between the people holding and spending the budget. That dynamic is one mired in what we term the “path of despair”. This (not very agile) path should be very familiar to most and goes like this.

An agile workflow diagram

Shoe-horning an agile delivery train in the middle of the path of despair and declaring victory on agile adoption is not the answer. Creating a culture where you have stability of supply and a proper understanding of the velocity of the cross functional teams that form that supply model is the answer. Drawing down demand into that capacity is key, not attempting to ramp up capacity based on a demand statement made in a vacuum, months previously.

To be able to stand up and say to senior stakeholders on a frequent basis throughout any 12 month period “I can’t do that, but I can commit to this” is a much better place for all parties to be in.

This comes from an agile adoption approach not just constrained within a few functional domains. Breaking the product ask down into more frequently released incremental improvements to the customer experience backed by an empowered team to execute that ask builds trust between the budget holders and the budget burners.

We have some basic principles; all teams are co-zoom-located and cross functional – they have the right skills. They are empowered and responsible for design, build and run – they are held accountable. This means they can make changes multiple times a week, constantly improving the customer experience.

This doesn’t work unless you have executive sponsorship that provides empowerment because if you don’t have that you can’t be truly cross functional.

Don’t start with the problems, start with some wins.

We provide quick wins and roadmaps that will deliver immediate benefits to you through a completely free consulting engagement geared around highlighting areas of agile adoption that you may not have considered.

If you want to find out more information on how to bootstrap agile across your organisation, to build the trust between your stakeholders and your delivery teams, to truly empower your people to build brilliant experiences for your customers, get in touch.

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