Working directly with some of the world’s top financial institutions to build and implement leading-edge digital and mobile solutions, we’ve compiled the following tips to help you overcome common challenges using the Agile methodology. 

Digital and mobile capabilities in banking used to be cutting-edge – and optional. Now, they are basic necessities. Yet building and implementing them can still be a daunting task for IT and the business as a whole.

One big challenge is learning how to use new collaboration tools, such as cloud-based apps and online collaboration platforms (e.g., wikis). Another big challenge is trying to coordinate the efforts of numerous virtual teams across multiple geographies and time zones. However, perhaps the biggest challenge of all is figuring out how to apply the Agile methodology to efficiently get your digital job done.

Working directly with some of the world’s top financial institutions to build and implement leading-edge digital and mobile solutions, we’ve compiled the following tips to help you overcome common challenges using the Agile methodology.

1. Organize development teams around business processes.

During initial iterations (circa 2015), development teams were usually organized around technical domains, such as core banking systems or UI (user interface). The result? Bottlenecks were created at key areas (e.g. middleware layer) due to the inability to allocate work proportionally. In our experience, it’s more effective to organize around business processes, such as customer on-boarding or payments – creating mixed teams with a broad range of technical skills that can build business processes in relative isolation. This makes it easier to rethink business processes from the ground up, and to develop technology solutions that are truly integrated, while being able to balance work effectively across teams. It also makes it easier to deliver tangible results that satisfy Agile’s story point criteria in the short period of a sprint.

2. Get user feedback every step of the way.

With the Agile methodology, you have something new to demo every few weeks. In partnership with the business, set up focus groups to give you feedback on each and every demo. This will help you home in on customer expectations early, so you have time to refine and improve the solution in subsequent sprints. It also gives people in the business a sense of involvement and ownership in the development process, paving the way for long-term buy-in.

3. Start performance testing as early as possible.

Plan to start performance testing early, during Sprint 2. This will help you uncover and fix scalability issues early in the development process. Holding until later sprints can mask design decisions that create performance bottlenecks. You could end up doing a lot of last-minute redesign and rework – resulting in higher costs and painful delays.

4. Co-locate leaders and development teams.

When leaders and developers are located together at the same site, they can have informal chats as they pass through the hallway, and they can easily get together for quick check-ins. When they aren’t located together, they tend to rely much more heavily on formal status updates and weekly conference calls. For Agile projects, which are typically executed in two- to three-week sprints, a week is an eternity. Co-location helps facilitate faster and more effective communication, stronger relationships, and better decision-making.

5. Adopt a client-centric focus.

In the past, most business processes were supported by a hodgepodge of IT systems cobbled together over years or decades. But with the rapid emergence of digital and mobile technologies, you now have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop solutions and processes that are integrated and seamless from end to end. Most of the time, the best way to achieve this is by focusing on what’s best for your clients. What do they need? How do they prefer to interact with you? What kind of experience are they looking for? Keep in mind that your clients’ expectations are likely to be higher than ever because, when it comes to digital and mobile, the bar isn’t just being set by other banks – it’s being set by the world’s best digital companies, which have trained your clients to expect an exceptional customer experience that is constantly evolving and improving.

Digital banking solutions can boost customer satisfaction and loyalty. It also has the potential to reduce transaction and client acquisition costs. By considering the practical and tested development tips we’ve outlined here, you can shorten your learning curve and get your digital and mobile initiatives on track for success.

Kevin Laughridge is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP focused on serving large financial institutions. He has over 12 years of consulting experience in Merger and Acquisitions, Digital Banking Solutions, Operations Integration and Transformation, Program Management, and Infrastructure consulting.