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Introducing Agile into a large Middle Eastern bank – Case Study

The Challenge

Break the cycle of system outage by bringing discipline and fast feedback into software development.

Create self-sufficient high-performing teams that could advocate and educate other development teams in Agile ways of working. Demonstrate to senior leadership that Agile was possible within both cultural and regulatory constraints to the bank. All in an environment that was sceptical of another change to the way of working.

The Outcome

Newly developed infrastructure and systems showing high levels of resilience to expected demands.

High-performance teams can sustain their continuing improvements. Senior leadership, from the bank and its development subsidiary, support the initiative. Agreement within the organisation to continue supporting the coaching and training.

Helping build high-performance software teams to recreate the organisation for the future

Client Profile

  • $10Bn in shareholder equity
  • $86Bn in total assets
  • Top 100 of the “The World’s Biggest Banks”
  • Top 500 of Forbes Global 2000
  • Operates over 1,400 branches across the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Africa
  • 25,000 employees
  • Over 100 subsidiaries

The Challenge

The bank was suffering from poor performance in not only software but also the supporting infrastructure. Systems were suffering multi-day downtime due to poor architecture and hardware unable to support the demands made of it. Not only was revenue being lost but also critical information due to manual processing of urgent data.

Previous initiatives had already introduced Agile working into the organisation with little impact on the development team’s ability to deliver valuable software of high quality. Due to these past failures, the senior leadership of the bank was already sceptical about Agile as a suitable method of working for the business.

The Engagement

As part of a complete programme to bring all aspects of the technology departments up to date in both tools and methods, we were engaged to introduce Agile ways of working, predominantly Scrum, and coach teams from key initiatives across the business.

We established several success criteria for the engagement:

  1. To create several high-performing teams, working in an Agile way, within the software development subsidiary;
  2. The teams needed to reach a sufficient level where they could maintain their momentum from continuous improvement; and,
  3. Any pilot team member would act as an advocate and help other teams recreate the same levels of performance.

To start the engagement four expert Agile coaches facilitated a learning workshop to introduce Agile

The Approach

To start introducing Agile we needed to give all those involved or impacted by the Agile initiative a basic degree of understanding. To support this awareness we ran a one-day introduction to Agile training for 70 people at an offsite campus.

During the engagement gaps in knowledge were observed that further education was the most suitable option to close, including:

Throughout the engagement, we measured the pilot teams and key influencers of those teams against a baseline of understanding about Agile ways of working and the underlying thinking involved in establishing a resilient organisation ready for the 21st Century. The primary purpose of this Agile assessment was to identify areas where the coaching needed to focus and deliver targeted interventions tailored to each software development team or the leadership involved.

In addition to the direct coaching support, the teams also had access to “in the moment” training and workshops to deepen understanding of key topics, coaching conversations with the major influencers across the organisation to help with the required shift in thinking, and expert facilitation of key events in the team’s development.

Overall 16 teams were supported, using a rolling wave approach, across two cities and four different campuses.

The Impact

During the pre-engagement consultation, several key indicators were established based on the organisation’s priorities and then a base-line took to create a framework in which to measure the impact.

Across all these Key Performance Indicators a noticeable increase was measured during the engagement. The quality of the products created by the pilot teams increased by 38%, as measured by independent code quality tools such as SonarQube, while the self-reported, satisfaction and overall motivation of the team members involved in the initiative increased by over 58% when compared to the traditional way of working.

Agile Case Study
Introducing Agile Case study

These targeted interventions meant each team was able to tailor the details of their development process to the context in which they found themselves.

This tailoring of the approach allowed each team to achieve significant improvements in productivity by tackling the impediments unique to themselves. Teams then shared this learning via a Scrum Master forum held weekly, enabling each team to benefit from multiple validated organisational experiments and applying only those that worked in their context.

Client’s next steps

During the coaching and mentoring wave key influencers were identified, trained and coached in the Scrum framework and Agile ways of thinking and working. This capability means the bank is now able to continue with the adoption of Agile using a transformation team of internal change agents.

One of the groups involved in the pilot went on to win an award in recognition the positive impact they had made on the business with the new way of working.

Interested in how we can help you achieve similar outcomes?

To find out more:

  • about how we achieved these results or to explore how we can support your organisation with Agile adoptions and transformations;
  • information regarding the Agile Assessment we ran for this client, and how it can help you discover the most important areas to focus your efforts, or;
  • the approach we took to build the capability in the teams to continue the organisational Agile journey with internal champions

then contact us.

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