Financial services (FS) is being disrupted by new waves of change and each FS firm needs to move at increasing pace on internal initiatives and against external catalysts and opportunities. For FS firms, agile change is becoming a core competence in order to not only survive in this brave new world, but to thrive in it.

Agile has been used for many years in software development to improve the speed of delivery of technology outcomes. While there are many familiar terms associated with agile software development (e.g. ‘sprints’ and ‘scrums’), the high-level definition is that agile involves the division of tasks into small sections or short phases (weeks rather than months), with frequent evaluation and adaptation of plans according to the insights gained.

Today many FS firms are increasingly looking to apply agile to end-to-end business change. Sometimes this is focused on the definition of agile for software development applied to business change, but increasingly in a business change context, agile also means using analytics to improve insight of specific programmes, and to enhance and accelerate the benefits of transformation, while reducing risk and sustaining operational alignment.

Why is there such a shift beyond agile for software delivery? Because this broader approach to agile change is required to achieve genuine ‘speed to benefit’ – bringing benefits earlier, increasing change adoption and maximising the impact of the change for customers and the business.

FS organisations facing distinct challenges such as digital disruption, cost reduction, regulatory pressure, increasing globalisation and market forces can use agile to shape, deliver and embed changes necessary to tackle these obstacles.

Agile change enables FS firms to spend less time on getting to the ‘first go live’, with more time focusing on early outcomes and iterating the change ‘in live’ to maximise learning and benefits. It can be applied to both small projects and large-scale transformations.

But for agile to be effective and yield successful results, FS firms need to look beyond implementing agile methods alone, and focus additionally on creating the right approach to leading and managing the change.

It’s up to FS change leaders to develop the five key capabilities and skills for agile:

  1. Set a clear vision and direction, one that focuses on outcomes and benefits;
  2. Put people first, including customers and colleagues;
  3. Plan for quick implementation, with a bias toward pace and speed to benefit;
  4. Shorten delivery cycles, featuring more frequent iterations;
  5. Spend more time in ‘iterating in live,’ than getting there.

The shift to agile business change in financial services and a revolution in ‘speed to benefit’ has already happened – how will you keep up?

To learn more, register to download the full report: Time to Join the Revolution: Agile Change in Financial Services

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