Financial services firms are finding true enterprise agility elusive. IT is core, but success includes introducing considerable change across key facets of the organization, including business structures, budgets, management, governance and the workforce.

One leading bank is tackling the challenge of embedding agility within its organization from multiple angles. Top down, it’s removing some hierarchical levels. Bottom up, it’s empowering the organization through the introduction of agile methodologies like DevOps tooling. While it’s not a best practice template for every FS firm, this strategy is succeeding in driving enormous change—it’s helping the organization to recalibrate and transform key facets of the organization. This is a critical step—it’s helping the bank build the stability necessary to scale agility.

What do agile organizations do differently?

The agile organization must be able to respond rapidly to change and opportunity. This requires adaptation of traditional processes and structures.

Key shifts include the following:

  • New team structures. Instead of being organized by function, teams become product-centric with highly flexible, adaptive groups moving quickly to address challenges, innovate and add value. This calls for not just behavioral change, but a change in business culture.
  • IT and business are jointly accountable. In an agile environment where technology is a vital element of success, IT and the business become jointly accountable for business outcomes.
  • Budgeting adapts. Rapid response to change and opportunity is not compatible with traditionally long annual budgeting cycles. Seed and tranche funding based on opportunities and value delivered may be a necessary addition to budgeting methodologies.
  • Faster decision-making. The multi-level approval structures of hierarchical organizations slow the organization down. Tailored governance that enables risk-appropriate decision-making speed supports agility.

Building agility will also demand change in other facets of the business. Multi-speed organization and technology structures will be needed to cater to new and incremental change. And new processes, tools and structures will be needed to build a differently skilled and sourced agile workforce.

With the right tools, processes and architecture in place to provide stability, FS firms can move forward, scaling agility across the organization. However, building true agility takes time.

Join me next week as I look at how organizations can navigate the agile journey. In the mean time, you can read more about Enterprise Agility in Financial Services in this report.

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