Looking at 2017’s FinTech events calendar, the agenda for FinTech: Code mirrored a lot of what we hear our clients talk about, such as, “we need to do DevOps, but how can we do it well?”.
Many clients wanted to come along, and as sponsor we were glad to help. There was a good sense of openness and sharing among peers, in both the presentations and roundtable sessions. Presenters and attendees were from across the financial services sector; from retail and investment banks, to insurers and credit card companies. However, they all faced similar challenges:
1. Changing the culture of their organisations to be more collaborative
The most difficult element to get right quickly, not just in IT but across the business, seems to be retraining staff on new collaborative processes; there was a spread of approaches.
HSBC showed us a motivational video on how it encourages ownership and innovates across 180 countries, and ING presented how its people-centric Squads & Tribes tracked progress on a performance wall. In his presentation, From Oil Tankers to Speedboats, Jonathan Smart from Barclays described how culture was number one and needs to be addressed from the top down and the bottom up in organisations. He also made it clear that it is possible to realise the dream of faster delivery, particularly through the adoption of disciplined Agile practices.
This journey started at Barclays just over two years ago, and was championed throughout the organisation. An interesting snippet was that the real discipline came from learning to descale projects; the target for everyone is to invest in a three month delivery, then assess whether to increase or decrease investment, or to stop. This time saved was the biggest improvement on the feedback survey.
Another insight, from Capital One, was that DevOps reduces friction, allowing more DIY innovation and enabling “release without fear”.
2. Recruiting employees with DevOps skills is hard
Perhaps the financial services sector isn’t perceived as the most innovative working environment anymore. When headlines concerning IT in banks talk about them struggling due to legacy estates, newer companies with digital programmes can seem more attractive to those qualified to work with the latest technologies and practices. Paige O’Neill from Prysm spoke of 87 percent disengagement among employees, costing the economy £350 billion a year. So, creating the “employee advantage” looked at appealing to potential candidates on three levels: culture, technology and physical space.
Collaboration requires open spaces where people can gather and speak freely and, if they are too shy to speak, online tools where their voices can still be heard digitally. Gone are the days of spending eight hours in a cubicle with your only human contact being in the canteen at lunch!
Incidentally, for those who are experiencing this challenge, she also recommended a book, The Employee Experience Advantage: How to Win the War for Talent by Jacob Morgan.
3. Regulatory projects can feel like they stifle innovation agendas
On the surface, hard deadlines for strict requirements don’t reflect the spirit of the Agile methodology, but it could be more useful than you think.
In the case of MiFID II, the initial requirements needed clarification, which resulted in the deadline being pushed back. For anyone who had started work following Waterfall on a solution to address this, they would have to re-plan the whole programme, costing a lot of time, and maybe even resulting in useless code to throw away on unclear initial requirements that had been misinterpreted. Those using Agile could have re-planned and re-directed far more quickly - within one sprint.
On the DevOps side, use of the cloud was seen as a particular enabler too, with demands on infrastructure increasing rapidly. Vendors such as LayerV have spotted the opportunity to ensure that compliance is covered from a security angle to enable fast adoption.
A great deal more was discussed at a more granular level, from remote team management, and testing, to whether Big Data was hype or necessity, and the holy grail that is true continuous delivery!
This conference definitely proved that DevOps is real in financial services, and we are proud to be helping our customers on this journey.
See our latest client story to find out how a cross-functional Scott Logic team, including PM, UX, Development and Test, provided the capacity and skills required to deliver new dimensions in DevOps.