Financial Services Blog

Agile transformation as a theory sounds ideal. Agile transformation in practice can be a different story. In my previous post, I explained the principles behind an agile methodology and the benefits it can deliver to your firm. In this post, I’m going to tell you how to steer clear of common roadblocks and set the right foundation for success.

Below are descriptions of typical pitfalls and how to avoid them.

Strategic planning

Agile begins with a good strategy that unites business with IT. A lack of coordination between the two can jeopardize the entire process at the outset. Additionally, competition between traditional budgeting and transformation funding can undercut effectiveness. The failure to set business requirements is another common error.

Banks can avoid these issues by following the agile methodology to establish a strong enterprise strategy based on customer insights, market demand, regulatory needs and technology opportunities. Through a cycle of ideation, experimentation, prioritization and implementation, banks can identify and act upon the most compelling strategic imperatives to deliver the greatest return on investment. This establish a continuous feedback loop between the organization and its customers and regulators.


Banks can struggle when it comes to scaling agile teams to the enterprise level. Additionally, many banks have trouble managing waterfall and agile projects at the same time.

The use of micro services and open APIs (application program interfaces) creates a flexible architecture that allows for easy scalability. A dedicated release management function and application release automation tools help synchronize project timing so that multiple projects are well-managed, even if they take place at the same time and through different methodologies.


Incomplete tool integration requirements and a lack of automation in regression testing, deployment and infrastructure provisioning is not atypical, and it will slow or stall agile development processes. Not only that, inflexible release schedules can both impact and reflect slow development speed.

Engaging DevOps is key to avoiding all these issues. DevOps allows for the release of incremental features, increases the pace of small releases and adds key capabilities such as automation and toolchains.


Because implementing agile is both a technology transformation and a “mindset” transformation, getting people on board can be a challenge. Without full stakeholder engagement, agile will fail. Taking all employees on the agile transformation journey is key for “success.”

Banks can kickstart a seamless agile transformation journey by engaging all stakeholders through authentic, informative and inspirational communication and collaboration, then continue engagement through employee empowerment―sharing quick wins and driving a cultural transition from “doing agile” to “being agile.”

Preparing to launch

Every enterprise has its own unique characteristics and needs, and agile allows for those differences. However, the foundational elements for an agile transformation are common, and if followed, will result in the desired outcome.

In my next post, I’ll provide some insight into accelerating your agile transformation journey as well as lay out a 30/100/365-day plan for effective implementation.

For more detail about taking the agile transformation journey, please see Taking the Agile Transformation Journey.

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