Westpac wanted to leapfrog its competition rather than just keep pace with it. This required Silverstripe to greatly reduce the time to deliver such a complex technology project. Westpac’s goal was to produce a scalable, optimised for any device, online customer experience where verification was easy and all services were available.
Proving Agile benefits
The first deliverable was a Proof of Concept (PoC) – a working model and design of Westpac’s vision for a new internet banking concept. This started with smartphones as the first device to be redeveloped, and then working backward to desktop accessibility. The PoC was delivered in just two weeks. The speed and immediate value created proved that the Agile approach was going to deliver the results.
Create, test, improve
The massive Westpac One project was divided into small feature led releases. This allowed software to get into the hands of users quickly, allowing for continual feedback and improvements. The initial user-testers were Westpac staff. They evaluated, tested and provided feedback. As the website’s new services and products were incrementally improved, after three months the bank released a beta version to selected customers, and then to more and more of its customers every three months.
“This provided us with the ability to test and learn,” said Pomeroy. “We were able to optimise Westpac One based on customer feedback. In 18 months we created the new platform that was officially launched at the beginning of 2015”.
After each release, Westpac and Silverstripe would review how the previous months’ development had gone. They then adapted their processes to improve the delivery model. This ‘rolling’ adoption, meant Silverstripe could identify constraints, working with the ones not able to be changed, while removing many that could. The project grew from one stream of work in the first release, to five cross-functional teams working together on streams of work in release four.
One project, one team
The project was led end-to-end by a Westpac Project Manager and two Silverstripe Scrum Masters (facilitators for the product development team). Running this full ‘Scaled Agile’ approach was the key to managing a project that had over 120 people working on it at its peak.
It was a team approach with Westpac’s developers concentrating mostly on the internal system integration and Silverstripe on the front-end design elements and integration points between.
Silverstripe had done similar projects within other industries and we had the confidence that they had the expertise and could carry out a mobile-first strategy. Right from the start we had Silverstripe onsite. It was never an agency relationship, they were part of the Westpac team, and we succeeded as one team.
– Simon Pomeroy, Chief Digital Officer, Westpac
Shifting mindsets to embrace Agile
The Agile approach removes silos across the many roles required for web projects. Instead of a traditional project management approach, in which front-end and back-end development teams work together, coming together at the end of a process, Agile creates small cross-functional teams. Tony Dale-Low, Scrum Master for eight months of the Westpac One project says Agile deliberately creates a more natural, collaborative way of mixing skill sets – across designers, developers, testers and business analysts.
Dale-Low is confident that Westpac One would not have been as successful as it is without Westpac adopting Agile for the project. “Agile allows you to deliver in a timeframe, it is quicker, its output is much faster,” he says. “But while Agile is a start point, the framework to follow, the process is just as important. So is the mindset required.”
Agile can be simple in theory, but challenging in practice, he says. Part of what Silverstripe delivers through its approach to Agile is helping clients adjust their own mindset in how projects can be delivered through collaboration and continuous improvement.
The incremental nature of Agile is key. “You break down the project so you deliver something of value early. With Agile you build up the product, add the next piece of value, attach what's important for customers. Where you think you're going may not be where you end up. Customers and business change all the time. The process of Agile is designed to adapt more than the traditional project management approach.”. In the fast-paced digital world, an Agile mindset rather than a fixed plan is critical.
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