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?
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.