How code.red helped a global bank improve efficiency, reduce overheads and deliver greater value through a Devops-driven digital transformation
code.red were approached by one of the world’s largest banks to help them accelerate their implementation of DevOps, with the overall objective of driving digital transformation.
The bank was facing stiff competition from FinTechs who could bring new products and services to market quicker and easier than our client. Our client needed to respond to these market changes by improving efficiency, reducing overheads and delivering greater value to their customers; all through a DevOps-driven digital transformation.
To achieve this, there were multiple challenges to overcome:
- Segregated Dev and Ops – The existing organisational design was focused on maintaining systems instead of improving customer experiences.
- Size – Getting 45,000 IT staff spread across 71 locations and multiple continents to align on the same specific objectives and solutions
- Bloated Bureaucratic Processes – Unnecessary layers of bureaucracy were slowing the decision-making process.
- Legacy Systems and Behaviours – Legacy servers and systems had led many in the organisation to the incorrect assumption that DevOps was impossible; what was needed was a behavioural change, not a change in equipment.
After two-weeks of intensive diagnostic activity, code.red identified several key areas where strategic changes would tear down blockers to digital transformation, working with the client we then proceeded to remove these:
Creating effective Dev-Ops teams aligned to customer experiences
At the start of the project, the client had approximately 45,000 IT staff split into teams, with each team having responsibility for a specific IT system (approximately 7000 systems in total). Many of these systems had teams of 200; the teams were bloated, decision-making was slow, and there was little focus on the experience of the end user.
Effective digital innovation requires an understanding of, and alignment with, customer journeys. Our client aimed to give customers greater access to products and services online, but the IT teams responsible for doing so had no way of working with the end user or sharing their experience. The focus was on maintaining systems; it should have been on enabling customer interactions.
Digital innovation fails when the improvements and changes are not aligned with the customer’s needs. We resolved this by aligning to customer journeys, removing the layers between engineers and the customer and making it easier for the Product Owner to engage the two.
We helped the client reorganise staff into more than 2,000 new teams of 10-15 people. Each of these teams had responsibility for a single customer journey, such as logging on to the online portal or applying for a mortgage online. To enable this the teams were multi-disciplined, bringing together Dev, Ops, and other functions, including security, risk, and design, in a framework that enabled them to draw on each other’s strengths.
These small, cross-functional, multi-disciplined teams are empowered to continually support and improve the customer journey they are responsible for. Unlike project-focused teams, these DevOps teams are persistent; as long as that service exists, they will work on it. This helps ensure that all customer journeys are regularly improved and supported.
Implementing behavioural change through Dev-Ops bootcamps
Putting Dev and Ops engineers in the same room is not enough. To achieve a successful DevOps transformation, it is critical that leaders and teams change their culture and behaviour and shed preconceived ideas that may be detrimental to the process.
For example, one key barrier we broke down was that many of our client’s employees believed DevOps was impossible on legacy systems. The key was to align the staff with customer journeys, creating small teams responsible for a key part of the journey – and a smaller piece (microservice) of the larger stack.
code.red ran bootcamps for the client’s staff, training them to understand DevOps, to put that understanding into practice, and then to pass that training on to other employees.
Enabling collaboration and knowledge-sharing with Communities of Practice
As the client transitioned to multi-disciplined DevOps teams, employees began to have less-and-less day-to-day contact with colleagues with similar skills.
It is essential that these individuals retain the ability to share knowledge and collaborate with others with similar expertise. The client already had an existing collaboration platform using SharePoint, but feedback from users was that it was proving difficult to use effectively.
code.red recommended and built a new platform on Atlassian’s Confluence, enabling employees to engage directly with other members of the DevOps community, supporting governance, collaboration, and knowledge-sharing.
Improving operational processes by removing unnecessary bureaucracy
An effective Organisational Design (OD) allows teams to get as close to the customer as possible. For our client, this meant removing silos and handoffs that were adding unessential layers of bureaucracy to the work process.
Some operational processes, such as change management, were facing lead times of 6-7 weeks and up to 40 hours of touch-time to get changes approved. This massively inefficient process was frustrating teams and preventing them from practising Continuous Delivery (CD).
code.red worked with the client to assess areas of inefficiency, with a particular focus on re-engineering the change management process to enable a fully automated CD pipeline. We also looked at other processes including project accounting and the planning of budgeting and forecasting. In many cases, what was previously a 15-day application process involving tens or even hundreds of decision-makers was reduced to a 15-minute turnaround.
Supporting innovation and continuous delivery with the correct tools
The ability to provision infrastructure, platforms, and software is a key enabler for innovation, helping teams focus on optimising cycle time and enabling them to quickly innovate and test hypotheses with the customers.
This is impossible without the right tools. In the same way that DevOps teams must align with customer journeys, your choice of tools must also align with what the consumers need – only in this case, the consumers are the DevOps teams themselves.
Our client had a wide range of tools available, but they were the wrong choices; adoption was low, and provision speed was too slow. code.red helped the client to increase levels of automation by identifying the right tools. The communities of practice we established enabled these teams to become self-sufficient; choosing, testing, and adopting tools as and when they need them with the help of the community, rather than via dedicated support teams.
Moving Dev, Ops, and other personnel into the same teams brought our client significant benefits. Teams were empowered to focus on improving customer journeys instead of just maintaining systems; this boosted productivity and created efficiencies.
The overall benefits achieved included:
- Creation of 2,000 new multi-disciplined DevOps teams empowered to improve customer journeys. One business unit saw cycle time reduce from 90 days to 15 days, simply by aligning requirements to the customer journey and prioritising customer needs.
- Worked with the client to select agile methodology and identify appropriate improvements and adaptions.
- Implemented streamlined Integrated Change Management process, reducing the touch time on change requests from 40 hours to 15 mins. This saved 4500 hours per year in one business unit alone, reducing rework on change requests by 23%
- Implemented behavioural change to achieve DevOps using legacy hardware.
- Helped 10,000 users adopt DevOps tools in just 12 weeks.