Agile & DevOps – are they always the right approach for banks?

By Sam Patience | May 16, 2017 | Categories: Blog | Tags: , , , , ,

The financial industry has been caught up in a maelstrom of digital advancements in the last few years, and these days you can’t talk about project management or software development without mentioning “digital delivery.”

The problem is, that in financial services in particular, everyone seems to have a “one size fits all “approach to digital delivery, which invariably involves agile and DevOps in one form or another. You can understand the logic. Agile development methodologies are proven to be a more efficient, productive way of working than traditional methodologies like waterfall. Plus the continuous delivery element of DevOps is really compelling for financial institutions, particularly in helping to reduce risk.

However, the fact remains that agile and DevOps are just not suited to every project and there are certain circumstances where organisations need to steer well clear. For example, if an organisation is going through a big infrastructure change and hasn’t used agile or DevOps in the past, now is not the best time to start. Trying to integrate a project like this into an agile timebox or continuous delivery pipeline will cause far more headaches than it is trying to solve.

Another “just say no” scenario is trying to implement agile and DevOps in a culture that is notoriously change resistant. People are often real detractors to change and one of the biggest obstacles to successful delivery. The culture needs to be addressed before you can think about agile or DevOps.

So how do financial institutions approach agile and DevOps and how can they ensure that this approach is suited to their digital delivery project? Here are a few pointers:

  • The right fit: it is important to ensure that only the right projects adopt an agile and DevOps approach. Implementing these methodologies in an unsuitable situation will do more harm than good. Take a step back and use the right tools to test run the suitability of your project – there are plenty out there.
  • Take your time: don’t be overly ambitious in adopting DevOps. It’s much easier for a start-up challenger bank to adopt agile and DevOps early on allowing them to mature into an organisation with a fully integrated agile and DevOps culture than for a 200-year-old financial institution weighed down with legacy systems to. They need to start with a small project and scale up.
  • Keeping everyone in the loop: project/ company-wide communication to ensure there is a consistent message of what agile and DevOps mean to your organisation really helps with successful adoption – let your people know what techniques you are going to champion, how this is going to be done and what you hope to achieve from it.

These tips are just a starting point. There is no silver bullet solution for implementing agile and DevOps in a financial services environment. But there are definitely some good practices you can follow. Doing a full assessment of your own digital delivery project and putting all the appropriate checks and balances in place, will help to ensure that you are not headed down the wrong path.