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BBVA gets agile as scrum teams tear up the bank IT rule book

21 January 2016  |  11689 views  |  0 business meeting room

Spanish bank BBVA now has 500 staff members working in small scrum teams to rush through the development of new projects, representing a five-fold increase over the past year.

The bank is adopting agile methodologies borne in the tech sector as it pushes ahead with its ambitious digital transformation strategy and stated aim to behave more like a software company. The agile concept marks a break with traditional bank IT development projects, which typically worked on a two-year waterfall cycle to deliver a polished end-product.

In today's fast-paced technological world, the old way of working is seen as an expensive luxury, pushing out highly polished but inflexible solutions that are always behind the times.

BBVA says it now has 500 employees using the scrum format, operating in small multidisciplinary teams and holding daily sessions in which each member explains what tasks have been done, what remains pending and what difficulties have prevented progress from being made.

"At these meetings, all the team members know at what point each one is and in what areas they can collaborate so the rest can move ahead," explains the bank. "For example, the marketing manager can give feedback of how the final product is doing to the technician developing the code. In this way, and along with faster deliveries, the resulting product is exactly what the market is demanding."

According to BBVA’s Héctor Borreguero: “It is surprising how the adoption of Agile is helping us set clear priorities, aligning the efforts of different areas -business and IT- with the corporation’s strategic goals both at local level and among the different geographic areas. Agile is enabling the work teams to manage their dependencies, focus on the project and provide value in a global and integrated way.”

He points to the development of the BBVA Wallet as an example of the effectiveness of agile techniques. Rolled out over a year ago, the product has undergone multiple seamless upgrades and has been downloaded more than one million times.

BBVA is not alone in using the scrum format. Barclays slshed the development time for its mobile P2P app Pingit from two years to just seven months, as small development teams collaborated to share and re-use components created in the cloud. Since its launch, the bank has been able to update Pingit on the fly, adding new functionality and service upgrades up to twelve times faster than previously, which would typically have required multiple patches and re-writes.

HSBC also this week rolled out it first product from a scrum team with the release of a mobile app that 'nudges' its customers into making better financial decisions. The app was built in six weeks and has been rolled out in a trial format to 500 customers with 38 types of nudges that will be refined over the course of a three-month test period.
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