Combining Agile and UX in Organisational Design for Business Agility and Agile Transformation

Some things to understand before getting into the main article. Agile is based on some very human concepts around how to work and what to value. Some of these concepts are exactly the same as UX and are driven by the same desire for simplicity and functionality.

Agile in its most basic sense is about people, how they work with other people and how to maintain a continuous flow of transparent work. In Agile many people will focus on ‘continuous flow’ and ‘transparent work’ and forget the ‘how to work’ and ‘other people’ negating them to agile ceremonies, frameworks and practices. This of course creates an imbalance in organisations adopting agile, as their focus is not on how it affects people, their sense of worth, emotions and their carefully crafted mental models around work and colleagues as much as changing what work is.

Similarly in UX where once a holistic approach to defining the feature set of a product or service to align to the mental model of service consumers to business key performance indicators has become focused on user interfaces, the real value of UX has been diluted from solution creation to solution components. The combination of these two professional skills and others (as Agile Transformation is a team effort) in Organisational Design enables the delivery of Business Agility and Agile Transformation.

UX Transformation

Many people now working in professional areas of business may be unaware that UX has a transformational element and has certainly been a major catalyst and change agent in ‘how people work’ and ‘interact with others’. Much of that function moved into Customer Experience (CX) and was always focused on the mixture of the strategic customer journey and the tactical customer interactions, which has now morphed again into Service Design. While these new terminologies have created focus they have also begun to reduce the overall impact and effectiveness of UX in delivering a ‘holistic ecosystem model’ as we used to describe the key outputs of UX Transformation.

Like many other areas of business UX had adopted but refocused methods from other professional arenas including Personas, taken from Marketing and upgraded with higher levels of quantitative data and demographics, with ordered and scientifically repeatable qualitative data. Customer Journey Mapping, User Flows, Cognitive Mapping (voice and AI) and User Stories were invented in UX and have now been adopted by other areas. This is a far cry from what is now practiced where Jakob Nielsen’s big business sell out 10 user rule is used to cripple to true value of User Experience and it’s potential to deliver groundbreaking innovation and sometimes complete invention from research. Accepting that this was beginning to happen and likely to become the norm for most digital products and services, I decided in 2006 to take the substance of UX on a different pathway and bit by bit focus it on Organisational Design through Agile Transformation and the now current terminology of Business Agility. This is the subject of my current Book, Agile an Unexpected Journey due out in 2021 Paperback: ISBN 978-1-8382370-5-9 and E-book: ISBN 978-1-8382370-4-2.

Agile Transformation

While there is now a huge body of work in regard to Agile Transformation much of it has been focused on ‘continuous flow’ and ‘transparent work’ leaving the areas of ‘how to work’ and ‘other people’ in many cases without guidance so they often create anti-patterns that ultimately undermine the Agile Transformations. So I’m not going to cover CI / CD here although I recognise there is an extreme lack of actionable tools to achieve actual automation and outcome measurement at release train and scrum of scrum levels. I’m going to focus on portfolio to value transformation (specifically the holistic lifecycle) and specifically economic ordering and value slicing in relation to how it changes ‘how to work’ and ‘other people’.

Communication is Critical

It is clear that changing how people work aids the organisations involved with deeper knowledge, flexibility and measurements of everything, what is often less clear is, how one more transformation benefits the workers. They have after all seen a continuous flow of ideas, some quite mad (like JIT just in time, which was call JOT just out of time by the participants, you can’t just translate a method without the culture) being thrown at them. Often in a half baked formats and are used to seeing them fail miserably and in some cases creating a nice firework display as their proposers are escorted from the building.

So few Agile Transformations are transparent themselves and I don’t mean sharing confidential HR material which are critical parts along with regulatory compliance and Union engagement. The value pitch once made to the organisational leadership is not structured and communicated to other executives, management and workers with effective points of reference to them in their work. Rather everyone seems to get the same messages that require a thesaurus to gain a meaning, though often the wrong one as geography and culture change the meaning of words.

Planning is Critical but Lightweight

While many consultancies love the idea of charging clients for large teams to swarm (for obvious reasons) over their organisations to understand the problem its not necessary to fully understand a whole organisation the start an Agile Transformation. In fact it’s a huge waste of money, unlikely to deliver any useful outcomes to the client or in fact be relevant to the final transformation. The simple reason is that organisations, their work and their customers are not static, while they may appear to be, they are in fact changing constantly. So planning is required but in a lightweight fashion, the focus should be just enough to be able to ask questions, what are these questions, well some of them are;

Is there a vertical product, service or regulatory compliance that slices through the organisation from the portfolio level, through solutions into development and provides a customer outcome that can be measured against the portfolio outcome?

Instead of transforming the whole organisation the focus in then to deliver one end to end service, product or regulatory compliance, that touches as many parts of the organisation as possible, a banking candidate would be MiFID II.

MiFID II is a legislative framework instituted by the European Union (EU) to regulate financial markets in the bloc and improve protections for investors. Its aim is to standardize practices across the EU and restore confidence in the industry, especially after the 2008 financial crisis. Investopedia.com 2018.

The essential point is that MiFED II is aimed at delivering client confidence which can be measured, it meets a critical path for Financial Services, it impacts all processes and cultural values and creates a very diverse ecosystem of touchpoints and data that can be used to set up the first versions of metrics.

And then ….

There is of course a great deal more in this than these two steps but as an experienced Agile Transformation Director, I hope you will contact me to discuss your programme of work rather than just lift things online and expect them to work without my expertise.

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#Blockchain end to financial services and banking #STP and #BPO Accounting?

In the same way that digital downloads has crippled the mass market of vinyl and CD’s does Blockchain means the end of financial services and banking straight through processing and the accountancy service model?

By reviewing the cost reduction culture of recent years it is understandable why the banking industry has become ripe for Lean Straight Through Processing (STP) and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Accountancy. But like other change and transformation activities embedding irrelevant processes in technologies, STP and then BPO accountancy is missing the essential point, they are no longer required if Blockchain is deployed.

instead of building Blockchain in the image of Banks, Banks should be rebuilt in the image of Blockchain, dramatically reducing process complexity and overheads

A Blockchain model for STP and BPO Accountancy

There are several factors about Blockchain that make it eminently more suitable for the highly regulated environment of STP and Accounting than software and middle and back office staff (regardless of how their provision is acquired). And of course you can dramatically reduce your expensive accounting staff costs as reconciliations, account status etc is automated as part of the chain, even regulatory reporting can be automated and regulators can have direct access to the blockchain through a rights and roles model only seeing at the right level what the banks and financial institutions want them to see.

Blockchain is distributed

A Blockchain (assets or liquidity) can be distributed to other Banks, Clients, Original Owners, Regulators, Tax Offices at an organisational level it can also be distributed to divisions and functions within organisations.

The nature of Smart Contracts can be defined for each organisation through the use of a Content Object Model around any given Item, with information facets in much the same way as WCMS systems are setup. Transaction data is transparent based on a Roles and Rights Model within an organisation and externally, once set up for each User Type reporting is automatic and no collation (from other sources or currency factors as these are embedded) or interpretation is required, this totally removes the accountancy functions.

Blockchain is not editable

Because blockchain is not editable

an editable blockchain would be called a Database and is essentially not a blockchain

all charges and transaction errors must be added to the chain and will be visible according to the chains Rights and Roles Model. Therefore nothing is lost and the chain will be compliant to regulation through its architecture rather than by addition of more processes.

Blockchain is smart (blockchain future-proofs itself)

Because Blockchain enables complex content object models, Smart Contracts allow the addition of new information. Unlike a database that would require a rewrite for additional information

when a Smart Contract has additional information added it updates the current block and evolves the chain

Blockchain will have a global impact

For years technology has impacted low skilled worker often removing humans altogether, the use of artificial intelligence supports the removal of strategy and management, the IoT removal of logistics and retail while Blockchain will initially impact banking and insurance but it also holds the potential to manage all information in a traceable and secure way.

Any country reliant on the financial services sector for jobs and taxation will need to look for an alternative source of income given the dramatic decrease in staff required to run a bank, trading or insurance company in the near future.

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#Strategic and #lean #thinking in private investment and asset portfolio participants part 2

There are several types of on boarding that relate to both business and investors structure and size, their specific purpose for investing and their local regulatory constraints.

The Main Participants

I will be focusing on four main participants in this post financial advisers (FA) and investors (I), either or both of these may be constituted by companies, funds or individuals and para planners (PP), local office administrators (external or internal) (AD), company back office administrators (AD). Other participants are traders, local regulation, international treaties, company regulation, regulatory reporting, trustees, product managers and the security services.

Financial Adviser

The role of the financial adviser is shaped by the organisation they work for both by its nature and its size. As a general rule, the smaller the firm, the more the adviser is likely to be involved in the process of client management. They will be managing their calendar, running segmentation reports, and getting to know the systems their firm uses. An adviser in a larger firm may spend more time on face-to-face client interaction and will delegate other tasks to administrators and Para-planners. They will be an avid consumer of research, but might have summaries prepared by para-planners. The adviser’s use of online tools and services will vary, but this is an attitudinal variable and is less correlated to the size of firm. They may view online tools as essential to helping perform well on behalf of their clients, in which case they will be a demanding and sometimes critical user. Alternatively they may be wary of disintermediation, seeing online servicing as a threat and something that could devalue the relationships they have carefully cultivated with their clients.

Financial Advisor High Level Processes by Karl Smith
Financial Advisor High Level Processes by Karl Smith

Para-planner

Para-planners are usually younger than advisers, and probably use online tools more frequently during the average working day. They will often carry out tasks for example, creating illustrations or portfolio models on the instructions of a financial adviser or as a way to show capability for the next step in their career. Although the Para-planner often carries out similar tasks to the administrator, their context of use differs. They may be an aspiring adviser herself, and their tasks are usually part of a larger, open-ended activity, such as research, where they help shape the approach. This means that although Para-planners often make use of process-heavy features, they are less process-driven than administrators. For Para-planners, attitudes to technology may be less behaviour-defining than for advisers: not at a sufficiently advanced career stage to make decisions on behalf of the firm, and will make use of the technologies available. Finally, they are likely to be heavily involved in the planning and aftermath of client review meetings, even if they do not attend them. They will play an essential role in meeting preparation and in executing any follow-up actions agreed with the client. In this sense they are a key resource for the adviser, and will therefore value any tools that help them work more rapidly and more effectively.

Para Planner High Level Processes by Karl Smith
Para Planner High Level Processes by Karl Smith

Investor

Of all the participants the investor is most subject to variation. The main reason for this is that, while other participants are shaped to a certain extent by their job roles and the responsibilities, constraints and priorities these involve, investors are strongly defined by attitudinal factors which vary from individual to individual. One key factor that defines how an investor interacts with the product company is their degree of financial mediation, with discretionary investors on one end of the spectrum and self-directed investors on the other. The differences between these extremes are so significant that, these will need to be defined as distinct participants later. Other factors that will strongly shape investor behaviour include risk tolerance, investment horizon, degree of financial engagement & sophistication, the amount of time devoted to financial matters, and the way online information is located and used (this last factor is important even if an investor is entirely discretionary). It is also important to remember that the investor participants as well as the product company’s business goals relating to them are heavily affected by the stage of their relationship with the product company and with their adviser.

Investor High Level Processes by Karl Smith
Investor High Level Processes by Karl Smith

Administrator

The roles carried out by administrators can vary significantly based on size of firm and the age or career ambitions of the administrator. Some administrators see the job as a transitional stage before attending university and receiving a financial qualification others might be called “career administrators” and might have been working in this role for many years. Some administrators especially career administrators may have become experts in the systems they use on a daily basis. In smaller and mid-sized firms, these administrators will probably be the company’s leading expert on these systems, and there are real-life examples of administrators who have created manuals for asset management systems which are used to train new staff. These experts can sometimes be most resistant to changes, even when the changes represent a tangible improvement, as they have invested so much time becoming familiar with the old system. Resistance to change is less pronounced among administrators who are younger, less experienced, or who do not intend to stay in the role in the longer term. Administrators are not key decision-makers in an organisation, but they are key users, if a system frustrates them and reduces their efficiency, their firm will suffer.

 

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#Strategic and #lean #thinking in private investment and asset portfolio management, part 1

This article is intended to review the current process problems that many investment and wealth management companies are attempting to solve. For many years these businesses have been wreathed in secrecy regarding how they do, what they do, often this has not been by choice but merely a by product of business processes that have not fundamentally changed in fifty years and in environments where technology is not considered as an enabler.

The creation and management of investments have evolved into a complex time consuming and inefficient practice due to many complexities not only within financial advisory companies and people but also management services, financial product offerings and regulatory structures and the various platforms they use. However by mapping the basic interactions between these groups and investors it is possible to not only determine quick wins but also radical time and cost saving leading to increased transactions with existing clients deeper market penetration and capture with new clients.

There are five basic interactions I will be mapping as part of this paper;

  • On boarding (including Fact Find, AML etc.)
  • Financial Review
  • Advised Financial Modelling / Portfolio Construction
  • Self Service Financial Modelling / Portfolio Construction (including Self Service Trading)
  • Regulatory Reporting

There is a lot to pull together to do this, it is very insightful if you have not been involved in financial services or you are involved but have not kicked off your financial services transformation project yet.

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#Blended #program #management #Prince and #Agile methods Part 1

Blended Program Management

I have been involved in project and program management since 1989 across various sectors and more recently have been focused in banking and finance.

I have experience in Prince and Agile methodologies and will expand on the blending of these two methods through the use of user stories (a user experience method) and the positive relationship between waterfall and iteration components in the following parts of this post.

Simply put (before getting into the detail) Prince and Agile = Delivery and in Banking and Finance they can give startling results.

This will not be a shock to many people but I’m not going to be describing the what, but the how.

I have managed some highly complex projects that would have failed if they had been run in Prince or Agile alone.

The clear advantage of blended management processes is that;

the project becomes team centric and affords an environment where success in common and that value is attributed to the correct people

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Save 35% ££ on banking change, requirements gathering should take no more than six months

Best practice, puting the missing part in a puzzle
Best practice, puting the missing part in a puzzle

Requirements gathering in Banking change programs are over detailed, over long and for the most part undeliverable.

There is and has been a huge requirement for change in British banking for several years as senior bankers have sought to lever the capabilities of technology and distributed workforces. This has in turn a great opportunity for IT consultancies to enforce their business models on the banks and make huge amounts of money without delivering anything. This has of course not gone unnoticed and forced many banks to increase their internal IT teams, but the problem remains, as the overall strategy is wrong.

The current strategy for business change requirements gathering is to fully understand the current problem with the assistance of subject matter experts (SME’s) and then defined the end state with the internal client. There are several major problems with this approach;

  • Fully understanding the problem is almost endless in Banking
  • Using SME assumes they really are experts which for the most part they are not
  • That the internal client can see the future of their business
  • That the same consultants will carry the project all the way through

The solution to this problem is a new strategy, in fact an Agile based one;

  • Defining 6 to 10 features of the new system at a high level
  • Involving the enterprise architects to see what has to be new, legacy or adapted
  • Launch the development team during the definition phase
  • Detail the features and get time costs from the designers and developers (not the PM or delivery manager)

Doing the above will change the relationship between requirements and delivery making requirements a service to the delivery of the project rather than an impossible set of promises made by people who will never have to keep them.

The 35% savings is probably low it’s just the 14 months and 35% of a budget wasted on an investment banking project that were eventually discarded. I’m considering a new concept in banking requirements gathering, value for money, is anyone interested?

You can contact me on karl@karl-smith.com

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#Information Architecture (IA) the #classification of #information

A simple website may only include 8 top level pages, 50 secondary and perhaps only 300 tertiary labelled (taxonomy) navigation elements, that’s only 358 entities. However, Information Architecture tends to be associated with the structure and classification of websites, intranets and software that accesses in excess of 100,000+ separate entities to be classified. I have worked on several huge taxonomies for Government, Publishers, Colleges, Universities, Insurance Companies and Banks involved in trading that involve between 1,000,000 and 25,000,000+ entities.

An Information Architect embarking on a new project will investigate if there is a standardised ontology for the project domain and conduct a content audit.

An ontology is a formal naming and definition of the types, properties, and interrelationships of the entities that really or fundamentally exist for a particular domain.

For example, if the project is a United Kingdom, Government project then there is a standard ontology and a classification of entities within a taxonomy.

If a standard exists the task is relatively simple but highly time-consuming as it then involves matching the in use ontology with the standardise one. If no standard exists a standard needs to be created. Creating a standard ontology is done through domain research. How do other’s of the same domain describe things, at this point it is worth considering ownership of language in the form of brands, trademarks, patients and de facto standards as a source of information, terms and potential restrictions.

Once the entities have been defined with their attributes and all the potential interrelationships then this is combined with or overwrites the content audit to define the new system taxonomy.

However, there may be multiple audiences looking at the same content from different perspectives. For example in educational publishing the audiences could be;

  • Distributors
  • Sellers
  • Institutions
  • Teachers
  • Pupils
  • Parents

Each one of these groups will have a very specific context of use when looking for content, the descriptions they use and understand to find it and their underlying purpose in doing so. In this case, they will each require a separate structure around an entity and may require their own version of the ontology.

Additionally there are criteria that operated as informational facets (now commonly associated with faceted search) which act as secondary entities;

  • ISBN
  • Bulk price
  • Unit price
  • Country standards
  • Regional standards
  • Education level
  • Education target
  • Education skills
  • Education method
  • Exam board
  • Exam year
  • Pupil/student age
  • Content subject
  • Content brand
  • Content group
  • Content purpose
  • Language
  • Language Tone of Voice
  • Media type
  • Media format

The above entities enable the audiences to find the content assets that meet their specific needs. It is very important at this stage not to confuse entities with hierarchies. Hierarchies are the structuring of entities in a direct or indirect relationship that are above or below (immediate superior or subordinate) this also includes cross related relationships. As previously mentioned there may already be standard hierarchies in the domain in question that should be observed.

But how do you find these entities in any domain?

Taking the above example the standard hierarchy in publishing is ISBN a review of several entities within a single ISBN item will reveal many of entities above. To get the rest research is required (it cannot be done any other way);

  1. Find out who the audience is and what is their objective?
  2. Find out what are the rules, laws and governance?
  3. Find out who buys, distributes, delivers, services, resells and what their relationship is to the originator?
  4. Find out specifically who the audience is currently, competitor and target audience?

Define ‘What is the smallest component of viable (useful) information?’ and use that to model the information system. I have worked with several huge education providers and universities and the questions I ask is, ‘What is a course?’;

  • A course has a title
  • A course has duration, with a start and an end
  • A course has a subject
  • A course has a level
  • A course has prerequisites
  • A course has an outcome, which leads to options
  • A course has a delivery mechanism

I also ask, ‘Who is a student?’, ‘Who is a tutor?’, ‘What is an outcome?’ even ‘What is a college?’, if a course has a regular location then this creates a secondary set of entities.

  • A location has an address, telephone number, email address
  • A location has facilities
  • A location has transportation links
  • A location has a community
  • A location has accommodation

And it goes on and on, this is Information Architecture 101.

This is a repost from an article first published in 2007.

About the Author

Karl Smith is Computer Scientist or as he describes himself a Creative Scientist. He has a BA in Design from the 1980’s and an MSc in Interactive Technologies for E-commerce from the 2000’s. His MSc was technically focused with a large portion given over to Transformation and Very Large Databases, data warehouses, Data Mining, online analytical Processing (OLAP), web browsers and search engines, optimisation, recovery and backup, database connectivity technologies. Including writing SQL.

Karl Smith is an acknowledged leader in the field of Human Centred Design, User Experience and Usability and has been honoured with a Fellowship by the British Computer Society. He is also the Founder of several organisations including The Human Centered Design Society.

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#Banking #Change #Management through #Human #Centred #Design #HCD

There has been massive change management taking place across all sectors of British banking over the last three years. Much of this is driven by buy outs and mergers, some by efficiencies and a little more recently through questioning the nature and controls around risk management.

However simply changing the owner has caused major problems in these banks as their competitive advantage and therefore their value has been an amalgam of very different skilled people, internal processes and market penetration from the bank or group buying them. These internal processes have often evolved in a highly organic method through acquisition and proven delivery often driven by individual people. However once this people based relationship is broken and these processes are exposed to a wider audience they pose serious questions in relation to risk management, value and the continuance of revenue flow.

The standard process applied has been to pass these processes over at division level to change program managers, at department level to business analysts to define the scope of the current structure. After definition many of these process based activities are passed over to information technology to resolve. I remember being taught at University (Napier, Edinburgh) that technology should never be used as a substitute to sound business process; however this technology determinant does not seem to have been passed on to banking business people. While not the best starting point, people who work in technology do tend to ask the right questions, to define epic requirements, even when it’s unpopular with the business.

Information technology analysts take these epic requirements and define an A to Z system ‘what it does’. However to get the B to Y user requirements (or stories), a user centred design analyst, ux research and designer spends time with the users to define ‘how it works’. This may seem obvious to digital practitioners outside banking, but it’s a revelation to those inside banking and banking technology, that users who normally find ways around poor software are able to define the requirements that turn a useful application into a killer application.

This is not really the end, more a beginning, if other sectors can learn from banking, that users (not stakeholders, usually no longer active users) can determine the overall success of software. And that user centred design (UCD) can assure and amplify competitive advantage if underwritten by skilled practitioners, then the possibility of success is significantly raised in all software and change programs.

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#Digital #banking #structure

Digital banking structure

I have worked with a number of banks and financial services companies mainly in user experience and team management, I have also been involved in the development of new business models. I keep being asked to provide structure information for various clients so feel it simpler to make the enclosed structural diagram available here as it may also help digital agencies and new start-ups understand the relationship between various roles.

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Welcome to my blog

About Karl Smith

Karl Smith works globally with directors, stakeholders and customers of multi-national enterprises across all verticals and technology stacks whose focus is on new concepts and capabilities that drive customer engagement, interaction and retention.

He creates digital companies, strategies and services that drive customer centricity into the core of client companies, that in turn enable them to realise their ambitions to engage with and establish a consistent two-way communication and interaction with their customers.

These new companies and capabilities are underwritten with tailored blue sky work, digital strategy, management consulting and program planning fitting to tight timescales, strategically correct, fully featured, useable, governable, scalable, efficient, end to end business propositions, service designs, applications, integrations and software systems.

Karl Smith Practical Skills

He is a highly competent, personable, creative and motivated person with a keen insight and definition ability. He is a critical thinker and able to rapidly discover the essence of problems then define, communicate, create buy-in and deliver end to end digital and process solutions. He positively motivates those around him and is able to engender a great team dynamic by leading from the front. He has business experience since 1989 at comparable levels in fields including defence, industry, energy, pharmaceutical, biomedical, construction, fashion, finance, banking, FMCG, property, publishing, healthcare, travel, policing, crown office, local and central government. He has specialist banking experience with investment, private, commercial, business, trading, wealth management in Europe, USA, China, Australia, Japan and Russia.

Karl Smith is a Founder and Director of UCD UK Conferences.

Karl has worked with several companies to define for launch or redefine their service offerings, business structures or digital presence including;

  • Avaloq AG – Setting up enterprise wide adoption of design thinking principals, master plan delivered in just two months.
  • Wipro Digital – Launch Wipro Digital, Design Thinking, Service Design, Creative Technology Services, User Experience Strategy, Creative Design Services, M&A Designit – 2014
  • Accenture – Launch of Enterprise User Experience, Digital Services Launch, M&A Fjord – 2012
  • Pearson Publishing – Digital Services Restructuring – 2011
  • Deutsche Bank – Self Service Paradigm Shift – 2011
  • RBS – Risk Management – 2010
  • The Oxford University Press – Mobile First Digital Strategy – 2009

Karl Smith has a wide experience in management consultancy and digital technology including business management, start-up, business strategy, digital strategy, advertising, customer experience, user experience, productisation, governance, change management, project management (waterfall & Agile), enterprise architecture and project definition, design, optimisation, delivery and digital marketing. He has been honoured by the British Computer Society for his eminence and significant contribution to the fields of UCD and User Experience with a Fellowship.

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