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Organizational Patterns During BFSI Agile Transformation

28 April 2016

Suresh Konduru
AgiVetta Consulting

It is well known that BFSI (banking, financial services, and insurance) organizations operate in a regulated and high-risk environment. This article discusses the organizational patterns such companies witness during their Agile transformational journeys, with the premise of that high-risk environment.

The content is based on my own real-life experiences with BFSI Agile transformations, accumulated from working with global banks, investment brokerage companies, credit rating organizations, and insurance companies. Some of been one-of-a-kind, focused experiences; others are patterns that I have seen repeat across organizations in the industry.

Each pattern is discussed with possible outcomes, and also suggestions for breaking out of the age-old patterns.

Pattern 1: Legacy organizational hierarchies have too many role specializations

Examples of overly specialized roles include release managers, project managers, environment managers, change managers, etc.
Why does the pattern exist?
  • Multiple regulatory bodies, stringent compliance requirements may require role specialization
  • Long-running organizations, complex business functionalities
  • Status quo mindset
The pattern may lead to:
  • Delays in decision making
  • Loss of productivity for development teams because of wait times
  • Lack of innovation
  • Demotivated teams
How do we break out of the pattern?
  • Create a list of new roles aligned with the Scrum framework and/or any scaling framework
  • Map existing roles to the new set; e.g., some managers with strong business knowledge can be great product managers or product owners
  • Provide executive coaching at all leadership levels
  • Hold trainings and collaborative workshops to teach the new roles

Pattern 2: Command-and-control style is the default

Why does the pattern exist?
  • Accountability is assigned to specific individuals
  • High-risk and high-regulatory environment
  • Superhero culture; individual appraisals
The pattern may lead to:
  • Teams lack freedom
  • Task allocation by managers persists
  • Innovation is hampered and hence there is no room for the team to achieve hyperproductivity
  • Employee attrition
How do we break out of the pattern?
  • Empower teams to conduct sprint events, empower decision making
  • Promote self-organization among teams
  • Train and coach managers and help them transition to the new way of working
  • Team appraisals or 360 evaluations

Pattern 3: Mostly component teams such as UI teams, service layer teams, backend teams, etc.

Why does the pattern exist?
  • Too many layers in the application architecture
  • Highly complex business systems
  • Persistence with legacy applications and technologies, partial digitalization
The pattern may lead to:
  • No end-to-end ownership by teams
  • Multiple hand-offs and hence delays or inability to create a potentially shippable software increment
  • Teams working in silos, lack of coordination
  • The value-add to the end user is not envisaged by the entire team, which may lead to creating non-value added features or low-quality software
How do we break out of the pattern?
  • Set up cross-functional feature teams that can be more nimble in responding to business needs
  • If the organization has to work in component teams for whatever reason: (a) Minimize as much as possible, (b) Use strategies such as continuous integration and automation testing, (c) Create and deploy a Definition of Done, (d) Use scaling frameworks

Pattern 4: Huge up-front planning and big-bang delivery model is practiced

Why does the pattern exist?
  • "It worked in the past, so why not continue" way of thinking
  • Long release cycles associated with "target dates" set by regulatory bodies
The pattern may lead to:
  • No value-add to the end user until the final delivery is realized
  • Age-old effects of big-bang delivery model
  • Waste of time and budgets
How do we break out of the pattern?
  • Continuous and short development and deployment cycles
  • Shorter release cycle planning
  • Start "being Agile" in small teams rather than waiting to plan for a large-scale transformation
  • Employ an industry standard framework or customize an existing framework to suit the organization’s context
  • Hire Agile coaches and transformation experts
  • Train associates
  • Use proof of concepts for Agile transformation

These have been my experiences after years in the industry. Thank you for reading this article; I hope you will provide any feedback in the Comments section.

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

Article Rating

Current rating: 4.5 (8 ratings)


Pankaj Pant, CSP,CSM, 4/29/2016 8:49:06 AM
Thanks a lot Suresh to jotted down experience in this article.
Informative and Insightful!

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