Eight considerations for implementing agile in financial services

24 November 2020 Consultancy.eu

Agile working is becoming a major trend among organisations of all sizes in the financial services industry. Based on their extensive experience in helping institutions with agile transformations, experts from Synechron share eight key considerations for the implementation phase. 

1. Change takes time

Acknowledge that culture is crucial, but acknowledge that it takes time and efforts to change successfully. Training and quality of communication can assist to reduce this time to change and embed the agile way of working. 

2. Strong leadership is required

Communicate effectively and demonstrate buy-in to employees. There can be tension between an agile environment and the demand from senior management to have clear timelines, scope and delivery commitments. 

The benefits of agile working:

3. Combine frameworks to suit the context

Just changing role or team names is not adopting agile. A balance between the required speed of delivery and potential for continual re-prioritisation of activities should be strongly considered. 

4. Avoid the big bang

Do not try to introduce a new organisational way of working as a ‘big bang’. Start out by introducing new ways of working within existing initiatives that add value directly to customers or business users. Ensure the rollout is to business and technology teams at the same time and evaluate and adjust the way of working when needed. Apply the principle of ‘change-test-update-test again’.

5. Align principles

Where projects are set up in an agile manner, owners and key stakeholders need to fully embrace the principles. If one or both groups fail to do this, change initiatives will be at an increased risk of delay, overspend and potential failure.

6. Team discipline and behavioural changes

Use a governance process to enable team discipline, this will help ensure quality early in the delivery process. A structured approach, underpinned by change management interventions that stimulate the right behavioural change, will also realise faster delivery value while maintaining quality. 

7. Assess your capabilities

Make sure that all capabilities needed to realise the end-state – technology, infrastructure, people and more – are in place. If there are gaps, roll-out training and on the job learning. 

8. Accept limitations

Not all change initiatives may be suitable for a purely agile way of working. For example, regulation and compliance generally live in a black and white world, while in the agile world a proportion of the methodologies include grey areas.

Another area of difficulty in applying agile methods is within pure business change where there is no technology transformation required. Applying agile methods works well in technology projects and change initiatives where both business and technology changes are required.

Finally, there is no single path to agile transformation. Agile adoption should follow a unique approach for each organisation, and one that gives focus to both the hard (process, governance, system) as well as the soft (mindset, culture) areas of change.

About the authors: Erik Rowbotham is a Principal Consultant at Synechron, Shauna Soons is an Associate Consultant. Both are based in the firm’s Amsterdam office.