Embracing Agile for Faster Delivery

Chris Johns, CIO, PNC Asset Management Group and PNC Investments, THE PNC FINANCIAL SERVICES GROUP
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Evolving Sphere of Technology

The advancements in data analytics, machine learning are transforming our ability to understand our clients’ needs and respond in a timely manner. As a result, we are able to be more responsive and provide the services and assistance necessary to deliver an exceptional experience for that client. Combining the advancements in data and internet of things (which allows us to be connected anytime, anywhere from any device) provides us with a deeper understanding of our clients and an ability to interact with them based on their preferences.   

Technology Advances

Technology is at the heart of everything, from how we communicate to our expectations around ease and convenience. With advancements in mobility, social and IoT, it’s possible to be connected all the time. As a working mother, technology is instrumental in my ability to integrate work and life–it allows me to stay connected from anywhere and easily shift between activities-from preparing a presentation to coordinating soccer carpool. 

  Agile certainly plays a key role in delivering faster by focusing teams on a minimal viable product and delivering value incrementally 

Being Balanced and Focused

To be successful in the new enterprise landscape, technology leaders need to be balanced and customer focused-they need to be able to drive results and manage costs while thinking creatively and applying a strategic focus to business problems. They need to be comfortable with change and effective in leading change throughout the organization. In addition, technology leaders need to be strong risk managers–able to effectively assess and manage risk every day. Most important, technology leaders need to be strong coaches–developing future leaders with all of the skills needed for continued success. 

Factors Driving the Change

At PNC, Agile has driven significant changes in the IT operating model. The shift to an agile methodology has strengthened the alignment between business and technology, created new roles (such as a Scrum Master) and empowered teams to make decisions. By using Agile processes, teams are able to deliver work faster with improved quality and higher employee engagement.

There has also been a change in how we align resources within our technology teams to ensure an appropriate focus on Run (the healthy performance and operation of our production systems) as well as Change (the introduction of new capabilities). This ensures that there is a core competency in both disciplines and that they work together effectively to deliver our holistic IT services to the business.

Hurdles Ahead

Working in a more agile model requires shifting responsibility and decision making to the team. Adjusting processes and empowering the team, while maintaining oversight into investments, risk and value delivered is a challenge. In addition, working in the agile model focuses on specific outcomes and challenges our ability to measure specific outcomes back to investments.  

Ensuring Faster Delivery

Agile certainly plays a key role in delivering faster by focusing teams on a minimal viable product and delivering value incrementally. In addition to adopting a more agile methodology, technology enablement across all aspects of the software development life cycle is also enabling faster delivery. Providing the development team with enhanced tools and processes, such as continuous integration, continuous delivery, test automation, that support their ability to code, build, test, package and release  allows a more streamlined (and faster) progression through the SDLC.   

Making a Shift

Any type of organizational change requires transparency and strong communication. Empowering the team with information–what is different, why is it different, how does this change what I do–helps people to embrace the change. As we shift to a service offering model, it’s very important to ensure that all employees understand their role and that, ultimately, their primary goal is to provide the best outcome and experience for our customers.

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