How UBank’s FinTech culture enables Agile to thrive
Some organisational cultures can find it difficult to adapt to an Agile mindset. Central to adopting an Agile approach is emphasising visibility and transparency. This includes making everything (including bad news) visible across the entire organisation. It also means prioritising face-to-face communication. Finally, open team reflection is critical to identifying where things went wrong and how they should improve.
One organisation that has done this successfully is online bank, UBank. Bulletproof was engaged by UBank in July to provide Agile coaching for ten weeks across four product teams in its digital division.
The bank – which says it operates more like FinTech with a banking licence – wanted to improve the speed and predictability of its team’s ability to deliver new features to customers.
Bulletproof started by using a DevOps/Agile Maturity assessment which highlighted what the teams needed to focus on first. The first priority was to improve collaboration – both within the development teams and across development and operations teams (also called ‘DevOps enablement’).
To help drive the Agile approach even further, UBank’s digital team was recently organised into four cross-functional scrum teams, rather than by role-based functions. Cross-functional teams are used to foster a culture of innovation and encourage out-of-the-box thinking and problem solving.
How quickly were benefits gained?
Within four weeks, we saw huge improvements. By introducing some of the key Agile concepts, one of the biggest changes we observed was a feeling of ‘shared ownership’ across each team.
Originally, the teams thought it was a positive thing for individuals to own their own requirement, which they developed as part of a release. It was believed that individual ownership increased the quality of the code.
The cross-functional scrum teams had recently been formed, so the first step was to ensure they ‘felt like a team’. Moving to scrum teams rather than specialised role-based teams can be a difficult cultural shift for some organisations. To achieve this cultural shift, teams sat together, went out for team lunches, met face-to-face multiple times a day and participated in team-building exercises.
UBank’s head of digital, Jeremy Hubbard has a different approach to managing the digital team.
“It’s important to me that there are no silos within the product teams – whether you are a developer, business analyst or tester, we want everyone to speak up and be heard and provide input into the products we deliver to our customers,” he says.
“The aim is to make sure the entire team is personally connected to and invested in the customer outcome. We also find that by listening to everyone, there is more room for innovation.”
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