KNAB and Xpirit
Continuous dynamics demand continuous delivery
The banking world is in a state of flux, with structural change driven by customers demanding state-of-the-art, app-based ways of performing financial transactions. Apps that require continuous improvements and updates to keep up with rapidly changing market trends. KNAB is at the forefront of the dynamic developments, and has teamed up with Xpirit to implement Continuous Delivery as a key enabler of the required product development approach. With success, for delivery cycles have been reduced from once every quarter to a couple of weeks. For Mobile KNAB even realized a deployment time of one minute. But what’s more, Xpirit has helped change the mindset and attitude of development teams, thus ensuring long-term benefits.
KNAB is amongst the trendsetters in the dynamically changing banking industry where the traditional, bureaucratic, slow and self-centered banking approach is “old world”. The new world of banking is the playing field between fintech and customer focus. Today’s game is all about IT-driven financial services, online and mobile banking with rapidly changing apps that are seamlessly aligned with customers’ needs and preferences.
Wanda Streefkerk, Change and Release Manager, plays a pivotal role in the fintech playing field at KNAB. “Change was needed, urgently”, she says. “Traditional development methods are hampered by long intervals between product deliveries. And when products are delivered, they often contain bugs and don’t match customers’ requirements. This approach doesn’t work any longer.
Customers have become demanding. They shop around instead of serving a lifetime sentence with their bank, and they demand feature-rich products that are up-to-date with the market’s latest app offering. What’s more, they want to be heard, and this is why we introduced our Knablab, a platform that allows our customers to try out beta versions of products and provide feedback. In short, there’s a new banking landscape that requires a dynamic approach with new and rapidly changing products that cater seamlessly to customers’ demands.”
Continuous product improvement and delivery
Wanda continues: “The new dynamics require an agile approach with fast development cycles and seamless cooperation between all teams involved – business and IT as well as KNAB and its external partners. This is why we introduced an Agile and Scrum-based project approach, and little less than a year later, at the beginning of 2016, Continuous Delivery was added to the list of changes to be implemented.
After all, we need to optimize our development process, allowing extremely short cycles of programming, testing, feedback processing and deployment. With deliveries every day, sometimes even several times an hour. This allows us to continually improve our products and quality, and that’s what continuous delivery is all about.”
Continuous delivery takes more than tools – it requires a new mindset
“Continuous Delivery involves much more than merely implementing a new set of tools”, Wanda emphasizes. “This is why we started looking around for an experienced partner who could assist us in driving the required change. After all, our situation was far from straightforward. Our development teams work with standard products and we involve various external partners located at the edges of Europe: Iceland and Bulgaria.”
“A challenge, to say the least,” says Wanda, “because the process of Continuous Delivery requires a united approach with seamless and continuous cooperation between team members. In addition to different languages – which was the easiest hurdle to take – we were confronted with differences in culture and attitude.
And when it comes to seamless cooperation, the right attitude is key. And that’s not something you buy off the shelf. That requires a new mindset and team-oriented attitude shift in which people put the team targets before their individual goals.”
Wanda Streefkerk, Change and Release Manager
Xpirit – a team with the right attitude
We posted a number of vacancy notices and consulted a recruitment agency, but because this involves a niche market, there was little response. However, soon afterwards we came across Xpirit, a Dutch firm of thoroughly knowledgeable and experienced consultants in the domain of IT, security and architecture in the banking industry, as well as Agile, Scrum and Continuous Delivery development methods.
Wanda explains the choice of Xpirit: “Even though their knowledge and experience was of key importance, it was their attitude that determined our choice. They invested in our project by spending a couple of days in our team before even mentioning any money or submitting a proposal. It was clear that their words weren’t mere talk about quality, but that they walked their talk.”
“In March 2016, Xpirit’s Jesse Houwing joined as a member of our team. Jesse offered the right combination of technical and tool knowhow and experience, and where and when required, he involved other Xpirit consultants. He was an interactive team member rather than a one-way consultant, not only pointing out the do’s, but also the don’ts.”
“He became a member of our family,” Wanda continues. “An extended family in which Jesse is creating consensus among all members – our KNAB teams as well as the teams of our external partners.”
Sustainable value through consensus and coaching
“Consensus among all partners was important, even in the selection of the right tool set – Octopus. But what was even more important in enabling continuous delivery was a change of attitude geared towards close cooperation.
This is where Jesse’s coaching skills proved to be of outstanding value. Skills that brought about change, not from outside in, but from inside out, so that the new mindset is well ingrained. After all, change has to come from the people themselves. We have to do it ourselves; change is not going to work if it’s dictated upon.”
Wanda concludes: “Thanks to his coaching skills, the effect of Jesse’s involvement goes well beyond the immediate target of speeding up our delivery schedules. Initially the target is once every two weeks, but from there we want to move on a frequency of once every day or even faster. Instead of only delivering the goods, he has also brought about a long-term effect that will be of lasting value for years to come. He has managed to change our mindset, and in doing so, we received much more than we had expected or asked for. Without Jesse, we wouldn’t be where we are now.”