Making Way for Transformation

How a global financial services company made way for agility and drastically reduced delivery cycle time 

Abstract

Our client, a global corporate and investment banking institution with offices spread across Asia and Europe, decided to work towards adopting Agile and CD practices in order to improve time to market for applications delivered and thus bring added value to both business lines and clients. SolutionsIQ was brought in to help the client launch a sustainable transformation program with a foundation in Agile workflow and technical practices that would impact every element and aspect of the organization, leadership, teams, processes and systems.

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Engagement Type
  • Agile transformation with a focus on workflow and technical coaching and consulting
The Challenge
  • To find ways to overcome industry challenges with practices that help deliver high-value applications faster and more frequently, leading to improved time to market
The Goal
  • Reduce time to market
  • Reduce costs by reducing production issues
  • Achieving Continuous Delivery – being ready at any time to deploy high- value software at the push of a button.
  • Set path to a “NoOps” culture across distributed teams in order to change the organizational mindset and team structures to involve the operations team in the development process
The SolutionsIQ Solution
  • Introduce systematic assessment program across teams and leadership to determine readiness for transformation and find gaps
  • Launch a program of providing multiple trainings on Agile/ Scrum/Software Craftsmanship/ DevOps practices to the teams based upon the need and gaps
  • Restructuring teams from components to feature focused
  • Hands-on sessions with teams to help them get accelerated understanding on the skills acquired.
  • Launch interactive community of practices within the organization for teams to learn by sharing
  • Internal championship program to identify the drivers of agility and culture shifts throughout the organization
What the Client Got
  • A comprehensive assessment of the client’s current state including technology practices, compliance and regulations, cultural influence and team readiness
  • Guidance to the managers on reaching an agreement on the goals and definition of success, given the organizational capabilities and industry challenges.
  • A defined process of making impediments visible.
  • Significant reduction in delivery cycle time, from 6-12 months to 2-6 weeks.
  • Technical trainings such as BDD, TDD, CI, CD and DevOps for more than 35 teams.
  • Workflow and technical coaching to align teams to the overall objectives and transforming them into high-performance teams.
  • Visible improvement in the overall quality of production code leading to reduced costs

Overview

The client is a global corporate and investment banking institution with offices spread across Asia and Europe. Inspired by the success stories that other organizations, including the web giant Google, have experienced with similar endeavors, our client decided to work towards adopting Agile and CD practices in order to improve time to market for applications delivered and thus bring added value to both business lines and clients.

While the company showed a lot of interest in effecting change, they also realized that deploying CD would be no small feat, given the complexities of their technology, the governing laws across multiple countries and the existing waterfall practices that teams were using. The company decided to bring in SolutionsIQ to help the client launch a sustainable transformation program that would impact every element and aspect of the organization, leadership, teams, processes and systems.

Defining Success

At the beginning of the engagement, we launched an extensive discovery and assessment program to surface the client’s current state of agility and readiness for change. We introduced a program called Qualification Synthesis, which involved talking to stakeholders and leaders to develop a shared understanding of their objectives for transformation, existing conditions, strengths and weaknesses in business areas, as well as any relevant technologies. The next step was building a risk mitigation plan and determining the results that we could expect to achieve with a fair amount of accuracy. The “fair” expectation was an agreement of the future state after the implementation of the transformation program.

Deploying CD would be no small feat, given the complexities of their technology, the governing laws across multiple countries and the existing waterfall practices that teams were using.

Jumpstarting Team Agility

One of the key findings we had was that the maturity and understanding levels of teams for Agile development were varied. While some teams were still learning to deliver in time boxes, others were delivering high value consistently. We recommended an onsite orientation program for teams to learn various Agile, Scrum, Software Craftsmanship, DevOps practices based upon the needs of each team. In the end, we were able to train more than 35 teams in Agile technical practices such as behavior-driven development (BDD), test-driven development (TDD), Continuous Integration (CI), Continuous Delivery (CD) and DevOps. This training provided the teams a foundation of understanding so that they could start down the path to becoming
high-performing software delivery teams, a necessary precursor to CD.

Continuous Delivery – Use Wisely

Drawing inspiration from Spotify, we recommended forming feature teams that are cross-functional, self-organizing and aligned to the larger goals and product strategy. We formed four such teams as pilots initially. These teams then acted as models for further teams to follow.

Our coaches guided the teams to implement their learnings in the most effective ways. While workflow coaching helped members adapt to change, technical coaching focused on improving teams developing skills using live code, which helped them a better understanding of the new practices. Being able to apply these practices on live projects unleashed high energy and enthusiasm that would fuel further growth and momentum.

Our expert coaches used a multi-pronged, organization-wide approach to help the client’s teams build on positive experiences, step by step, toward establishing Agile development practices and eventually Continuous Delivery. Over the course of two years, with our guidance, 43 teams were able to use Agile development and Continuous Delivery to produce high-value applications that could be released at the push of a button. Through a coordinated effort of training, coaching and mentoring, the client was able to significantly reduce their delivery cycle time, from 6-12 months to 2-6 weeks!

Of course, delivering quickly is not always a good thing, especially if your industry has many features in place to ensure that shoddy software doesn’t cost lives or millions of dollars. Recognizing that speed to market is a great aim to have, SolutionsIQ worked with the client to understand exactly what they wanted to achieve with agility and Continuous Delivery in their unique context (banking and finance). Given the technological complexities that govern their business operations in multiple countries, including legacy code, as well as legal and compliance factors, it is not possible to make hundreds of releases daily. Instead we helped the client focus on making an accurate assessment of the current situation, identifying a vision for the future, and building a step-by- step plan to bridge the gap between today and tomorrow.

Maintaining Momentum

Every organization looks for a plan to foster continuous learning and sustain transformation objectives for the future even after an external coaching engagement is over. We introduced a set of initiatives that would help the client by growing capabilities internally, including:

  • Guild meetings, tech huddles and book clubs – focus groups that meet regularly to share their experiences and learn from each other on a variety of topics
  • 3-Pillar Program to identify champions from the tech, process and product sides in every team to act as the catalysts to drive and sustain agility.

We helped the client focus on making an accurate assessment of the current situation, identifying a vision for the future, and building a step-by-step plan to bridge the gap between today and tomorrow.

The Bottom Line

When our client brought us in to help them transform their delivery options to be Agile and be able to deliver applications at the push of a button, we were happy to help, knowing that this client was helping people live better lives through the use of smart banking and finance
applications. Fueled by the desire to achieve a delivery organization state of Continuous Delivery, the client was able to train up 35 team in Agile and CD practices, with 43 teams delivering high value over the course of two years. They also remarkably improved their time to market from up to year to less than a month in places. In addition, our coaches and consultants worked with the client in their unique context to ensure that Agile and CD practices would provide them – and their customers – the most value.

Big Wins

  • Delivery cycles reduced from 6-12 months to 2-6 weeks
  • Reduced costs with improved quality
  • Visible transformation of teams with technical practices such as BDD, TDD, CI etc.
  • Built a culture of continuous improvement
  • Interactive, custom workshops gave participants hands-on experience with new concepts