How a Leading Canadian Bank Achieved Production Deployment

in 3 Months

James Lewis, Delivery Director | Dave Manley, Delivery Manager | Mohammad Zolmajd, Technical Director 

Published: July 9, 2024 in Blog

The dream of any delivery team is always to go from ideation to development to deployment in the shortest period possible. There are almost always barriers to rapid deployments; some legitimate and necessary, some less so. The first deployment is always the most important; establishing that pathway from idea through to realized business solution, to an improved experience for our clients and their customers. For many, for most, this is a dream that can be very difficult to achieve – particularly for large enterprises.

But I’m here to tell you that dreams can come true.  I’ve seen it happen.

The engagement in question was delivery of a variety of capabilities for a niche group of investment advisors within one of the big five Canadian banks. The first piece of functionality was a solution for automating electronic production and transmission of client tax statements. Until this point, advisors and clients both had to rely on heavily manual, snail-mail based workflows to receive said statements.

To get a first version of the solution to production in the desired timeframe, the first task was to refine and then contain scope. The team established what would be required to get a base-level “walking skeleton” version of the solution working, reviewed it with business stakeholders, and established buy-in from all parties to go for a truly minimal first release.

Next, the team discussed and piloted a variety of potential accelerators to delivery, taking pains to search for and employ any assets already existing within the client ecosystem to shorten the overall development timeline. Containerization with Docker was also leveraged, allowing the team to make rapid progress, pivoting quickly on different technology options. Several different approaches to technical design and workflow process were spiked, reviewed, and used as basis for further pivots towards what would become the first release. The team was taking very quick laps through the classic try/learn/adapt cycle reflective of prototyping.

Another key accelerator to this whole effort was the team itself, and the time they had spent working together. This team in question had been working together on an adjacent project for six months prior to this effort and the relationships and trust they’d developed over that time were key in moving quickly and as a unit, in deploying this new solution in such a short time. The value of team continuity is often overlooked, which is unfortunate given how critical it is to delivery success.

Once a first version of the solution was designed and agreed upon, development was completed quickly while release processes were being worked out, and an initial version of the statement generation solution was deployed through Dev and QA environments and into production. This established the uber valuable “Path to Prod” for all subsequent releases. In most large organizations, getting a solution deployed into production is one of the longest and most arduous challenges any team might face. In this scenario, getting the deployment pipeline flowing early with a low risk, low complexity MVP helped the team deploy and iterate on future releases much more quickly.

Now that the team had a first deployment shepherded through and operable in production, they immediately turned to what they could add next. Permissions integration was established as the basis for version two, and from that point forward the team managed to deploy 10 more releases to production over a subsequent three-month period. In a world where many platforms and programs struggle to deploy more than two or three major releases a year, this experience demonstrated that a better way is possible.

From a learning perspective, the following big items stood out for our team, and hopefully these resonate for some of you:

The importance of a fully committed and engaged product owner.

  • Without a product owner willing to adopt a new mindset towards iterative delivery and incremental release, it will be difficult to realize the benefits described above.

It is key to start simple and add small pieces of functionality over many iterations.

  • Helps provide a steady flow of additional business value.
  • Helps mitigate risk inherent in large, complex deployments.

Learning by doing will help teams move much faster than trying to spend time documenting and discussing every possible requirement and/or design option.

  • Keeps delivery nimble and adaptable to changes in priority or direction.

Enabling solutions to business problems, creating client business value, should be the key focus of everything we do, and getting solutions deployed to production is the cornerstone of all of that. With a renewed focus on incremental delivery and a new approach to risk assessment, the pathway to more streamlined delivery is available to all – including large enterprises. It CAN be done. Take the leap!

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