March 25, 2021

In the digital era, it is imperative for banks to embrace changes to improve organizational agility and stay ahead of the competition. While banks have already implemented the agile way of software delivery, they are still struggling to adopt modern delivery methods like Test-driven Development (TDD), Acceptance Test-driven Development (ATDD), Behavior-driven Development (BDD).

It is essential for the banks to transform their delivery model to deliver a personalized customer experience and improve their responsiveness towards ever changing customer needs. However, the transformation is not easy for organizations, especially banks due to a number of existing challenges. Some of these include:

  • Identifying the differences: Modern delivery techniques like TDD, ATDD and BDD could sound all the same, guided by the objective of enabling incremental delivery. While each of these technologies aim to deliver incremental software and improve developer productivity, they are rooted in different nuance and reasons with different objectives. It is important to understand these differences and specific implementations.

  • Standardized approach: Unfortunately, there is no standard or simplified approach for adopting modern delivery techniques. Choosing an appropriate use case is key to successful implementation. Most banks have a complex business landscape and multiple vended solutions making it essential to define a customized implementation strategy and timelines based on the technology/tool landscape and system dependencies.

  • Lack of automation: Automation is an essential pre-cursor to successful adoption of modern delivery techniques. However, banks are far behind in test and infrastructure automation, which directly impacts their response to customer feedback. While some form of automation exists in silos across development, testing and infrastructure within each project/program, it must be stitched together for seamless implementation of modern delivery techniques.

  • Isolated software development & testing: Most of the banks still follow the linear model of developing the software by one team and testing by another team through a centralized testing organization. This model works well for traditional software delivery. However, in modern deliveries this model could potentially create communication gaps and collaboration issues.

Modern Delivery: Key Areas to Consider

Banking firms have been aiming to introduce a plethora of innovative solutions to deliver personalized customer experience and remain competitive. In the current situation, a bank’s ability to organize the business around purpose, and adapting to difficult market conditions will be key to delivering these solutions quickly, securely and in budget. Here are the key focus areas for the banks towards adopting modern delivery techniques:

  • Cultural shift: Implementing modern delivery techniques demands an enormous cultural change across different business areas within the bank. After shortlisting a suitable use case (project/program) and before implementation, it is necessary to create a change management plan with the intent of promoting fail fast, fail often mindset while embedding modern delivery techniques in the project/program. The objectives of modern delivery techniques, pre-requisites, implementation strategy, timelines, assumptions, risks and benefits are clearly socialized with stakeholders at all levels and gain executive management buy-in.

  • Start small: Banks cannot afford risks from implementing modern delivery techniques on a large scale or by choosing a critical program that’s already in flight. All projects/programs must be thoroughly reviewed, and the best use-case must be shortlisted to implement any modern delivery technique. Choosing the right use-case paves the way to smooth transformation and successful adoption can help gradually extend the same to other projects/programs and business areas.

  • One delivery team operating model: Banks need to focus on establishing a ‘one delivery team’ model with business, development and testing teams tightly integrated with each other to ensure elevated collaboration, communication, and transparency. This model also largely supports the adoption of modern delivery techniques by infusing unit tests (TDD) or acceptance tests (ATDD) or tests verifying the behavior (BDD) of the software to drive the development along with infusing functional and non-functional tests at an early stage of software development.

  • Governance: As the model expands across multiple projects/programs and business areas within the bank, setting up a Centre of Excellence (CoE) or Transformation Advisory Office (TAO) could help understand the purpose, standardize the tools, normalize tech stacks, evaluate maturity levels, adherence to Agile/DevOps practice, create and maintain playbooks to enable automation first, cloud-first strategies, etc.

Closing Thoughts

To enable hassle-free implementation of modern delivery techniques and to smoothly navigate the journey of delivery model transformation, the bank must set-up a transformation advisory office, identify appropriate use cases, define a pragmatic and phased implementation strategy covering the aforementioned focus areas. Modern delivery techniques like TDD, ATDD or BDD have made it easier to manage the risk associated with delivering incremental software or products. In a nutshell, for successful and sustainable banking transformation, banks and their IT leaders must embrace risk to remain competitive and offer a friction-less customer experience.

Ponmeena Shankar Kannan Kanagaraj is a Senior Engagement Manager for TCS’ leading banking and financial services client in the UK. He has nearly 15 years of IT experience with special focus on business transformation for the BFSI clients leveraging the TCS Business 4.0 framework. Ponmeena Shankar holds a bachelor’s degree in Production Engineering from PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore, India.