Nowadays, Agile development is trendy in business circles, especially in the field of information technology. Agile is an approach to managing teams and projects. Usually, in order to implement Agile, a joint team organization is recommended. However, many teams are not able to do this for a variety of reasons and are forced to learn to follow Agile principles and practices in distributed Agile teams. Let’s find out what it is and why Agile is needed.
Reasons to Use the Agile Development Model
The term came from the field of programming and development. According to S&P Global Ratings, 9 of the top 20 banking systems will recover from COVID-19 impact by 2022; other ones won’t succeed till 2023. It is the approach agile development teams have been using since 2001 for hypothesis testing, rapid code creation and verification, and many other professional tasks. Agile came to replace the so-called “cascade” method of development when it took more time and resources to design software products because each task was solved in stages, and in case of sudden changes in the situation, you had to start the process over again.
As it often happens with useful tools, Agile quickly became of interest to specialists outside the field of development. Because it was an approach, even a philosophy, it wasn’t hard to apply it to other tasks with similar inputs. This is what enthusiasts in marketing, advertising, information technology, and recruiting have done.
However, at this point, it doesn’t matter which industry the company works in: in the conditions of high competition and economic turbulence, the philosophy has found a wide application in project management.
Agile principles are relevant to distributed software development teams, they are relevant to marketing teams, banking workers, and insurance companies. You should remember that agile principles are universal.
The basic principles of Agile:
- Agile processes promote continuous development
- Changes in requirements are welcomed even in the later stages of the project
- Projects are built around motivated people
- Simplicity is the art of not doing extra work
- The team is constantly looking for ways to become more efficient by adjusting and correcting its actions.
Thus, the Agile approach avoids building great plans that will never materialize and bring obsolete market products; therefore, no one needs them. Teams that practice Agile create a hypothesis, implement it in an acceptable version and in the shortest possible time, test it on customers and improve it in the process of using.
The benefits of the Agile approach:
- Since nothing is final or perceived to be flawless, project participants are not afraid to experiment, make mistakes, and there are no bureaucratic obstacles to making corrections or improvements to the project/product.
- The speed at which results are delivered makes it easier for companies to stay ahead of the competition and anticipate the wishes of clients/customers. Any technological or industry innovations, tips, and insights can immediately be tested, implemented, and used to benefit the end goal.
- Quick and regular feedback allows making fewer mistakes in the project implementation process while making it best meet the market, the situation, and the needs of clients.
- In the process of responding flexibly to any external changes, the team can open up new niches and markets for its products, create non-standard ideas, and organize successful partnerships.
Collaboration Tools for Distributed Agile Teams
A distributed Agile team is a project team where at least one individual member is physically distant from the other members of the project team. The distributed format requires adapting the communication tools used in agile teams. As we know, agile teams are usually well suited for periods of instability, given their ability to adapt to rapidly changing business priorities, the influence of external and internal environments, and rapid technological processes. Many studies prove that the use of agile methodologies improves project team productivity and cohesion, as well as maintaining a high level of engagement.
Tools in this category ensure the exchange of information between customers and developers of a distributed project. They include, for example, instant messaging systems, conferencing systems, collaboration platforms with calendars, and screen sharing functions.
A distributed development needs technical tools to manage multiple interdependent work deliverables with complex, evolving functionality and architecture. Examples of technologies in this category include design and simulation tools, project management and configuration management systems, issue tracking and knowledge management tools, build and test environments, and package managers.
Software evolves, and different variants gradually emerge, each requiring its lifecycle management. Technologies such as traceability and regression testing tools, application and product lifecycle management platforms, service request management systems, and automatic update delivery technologies used within DevOps pipelines have been developed for this purpose.
Distributed team is usually multicultural, so participants need to overcome a lot of difficulties.
Ways to Accelerate Agile Transformation in Financial Firms and Insurance Companies
Whether you have a long way to go can be determined by knowing where you started. Unless your organization is a digitally based firm, it’s essential to face the truth because few such firms exist in the insurance and banking industries. The key to accelerating the transition to agile is to ensure your transformation efforts are guided. Be open about the new working method, your goals, the scale, and the investment needed to succeed.
To embed agile in the organization, you need to agree with your colleagues on all future aspects of your company, especially its culture. You have to align the goals and expected business results of the change, the timeline for achieving the objectives, and the agile model and method with the senior management team.
Good leaders are an integral part of successful large-scale agile initiatives. They must have the following traits: organizational skills, extensive business transformation experience, ambition, courage, and authenticity. Conduct an assessment to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your managers. If your leaders lack the necessary skills, make a development plan to help them acquire these skills. Another challenge for you is to develop a training program for employees to help them develop their digital and leadership thinking.
To maintain flexibility, you should review your compensation and performance management processes. Behavior corresponds to rewards: therefore, performance management processes should operate on shorter feedback loops to support faster results.
Creating a well-defined change management strategy and ensuring it is accepted throughout the company is not an easy thing to do. So you’ll need to spread the news of your accomplishments and small victories through both formal and informal networks of influence.
Relevance of the Agile Operating Model for the Banking Industry
Agile methodology is also relevant for the banking industry. According to Marqueta research, 75% of bankers polled said that the influence of COVID-19 has permanently changed banking business models.
The acceleration of changes in the industry is the main reason to use the agile operating model. Banks need to change their priorities and operational processes very fast. There is also a very rapid shift to digital technology and more competition.
In fact, the banking system has become extremely complex and functionally fragmented, particularly with the changes in legislation and the variety of channels. With Agile, it is much easier to simplify these processes and create clearer accountability at the front line.
Banks address pain points in the customer journey at the micro-level and gradually build up these changes just through the agile approach. You need to be flexible to implement bold ideas and changes. The ability to rebuild as quickly as possible is essential to the modern organization. And agile methodology allows you to change your mindset, to instill a new culture in your company, and become more agile and customer-oriented.
Talent is an essential component. There is a growing need for digital and technical specialists. But as it happens, banks have not been seen as good employers for the next generation of tech talents. Banks should become less bureaucratic, less constrained by politics. A flexible organization needs to be an exciting place to work, where technical professionals can develop and learn professionally to be more effective.