As we enter the next decade, industry executives are becoming more comfortable with the concept of business transformation. In fact, it is becoming clear that unless traditional businesses evolve, they won’t be able to compete with new natively digital offerings.
This is particularly true in financial services where fintech firms began getting attention years ago and are now well positioned to be powerful competitors for traditional banks and credit unions. Consumers are ready for a completely digital experience, both for banking and lending. To meet these demands, institutions are accepting the challenge of transformation and turning to an agile business model or agile business transformation.
Agile business transformation is a modification to the way a business reacts to the frequently changing needs and demands of the industry and its customers, including changes to technologies, risks, and business growth.
One set of tools that can aid in this undertaking are currently in use by Agile software developers. Based on 12 development principles first published in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development in 2001, but using methods dating back to the 1950s, Agile development methods break product development down and complete it in an iterative manner.
Iterations, often called sprints, are bursts of development that typically last from one to four weeks. During each sprint a cross-functional team works on all aspects of the project concurrently, including planning, analysis, design, coding, and testing. When it ends, one version of the product is ready to demonstrate.
If changes are required, they should be obvious and the next sprint can get the product closer to market ready. It’s a process that puts more weight on creating working software than comprehensive documentation. It favors responding to change over following a plan. It can be used for much more than just software development.
In fact, in our consulting business we make good use of agile technologies as we help financial institutions make the digital transformation across the enterprise. But we’re careful not to abuse the process.
One of the strengths of agile is that is doesn’t get bogged down in endless planning before the work of creation or transformation begins. But this precept can be abused. Agile won’t get you where you’re going if you don’t already have a destination set.
You don’t have to know everything about the final state the company is working toward, but it’s important that you have a really good idea of where you want to end up. You still need to have a good sense of your requirements if you want to ensure an agile transformation. Otherwise, it’s just going to take you longer and take you more resources to get there.