DevOps finance sector

10 Secrets to DevOps Success in Financial Services

Mobile only banks, Apple, Google and Samsung pay and nimble FinTech startups are putting huge competitive pressure on incumbent banks to up their customer engagement game and innovate at scale and speed.

~ Written By Andy Dickin

In my previous post on DevOps “The Race for Dev Ops – Strategy, not Beer and Pizza?” I looked at how Financial Services institutions can fast track to innovation by creating a DevOps strategy that encompasses the key areas of People, Process and Technology. In this next blog, I want to take a look at how Barclays have made a very successful transition to a DevOps culture with a more Agile way of working, and I’ll reflect on the 10 ways that other financial institutions can model their success.

Uber Moments

Mobile only banks, Apple, Google and Samsung pay and nimble FinTech startups are putting huge competitive pressure on incumbent banks to up their customer engagement game and innovate at scale and speed. This disruption is the manifestation of the “Uber moments” for financial services predicted by formed Barclays boss Anthony Jenkins and reported by Reuters last year. When Barclays start talking about innovation, agile and DevOps, other financial institutions should sit up and listen. Barclays’ Digital Transformation journey has been a big success that has seen them not only catch up with nimble FinTechs, but also take the lead in innovation in the FS sector with services such as bPay contactless payment wristbands.

On 2nd November speaking at DevOps World in London, Barclays’ Head of Development Services Jonathan Smart, called their current project the “world’s largest and fastest agile adoption”. Since adopting Agile and DevOps, Barclays has increased throughput by a factor of 3 and significantly reduced the complexity of their code and the number of production incidents. Barclays processes payments equal to an impressive 30% of the UK’s gross domestic product every day and the secret to success here is, Smart says, DevOps: “It’s a better way of working. We don’t need survival anxiety to show it is a better way of working. We know it reduces risk – delivery risk – and we know it increases quality”.  So, let’s take a leaf out of the Barclays DevOps playbook and look at the top 10 secrets to their success that other organisations in the finance sector can emulate.

Top 10 Secrets to DevOps Success

1) Strategically speaking financial institutions need to focus on their own specific business drivers for Digital Transformation; delivering better software cheaper and faster, diversifying into new markets and innovating ahead of the competition.

2) Win over C-level executives and employees enterprise wide by successfully adopting DevOps for one project then as confidence grows and the processes and culture are accepted roll it out further.

3) Rewarding success and avoiding a blame culture is essential to DevOps success and actually FS organisations lend themselves well to this type of culture as generally if things go wrong there is so much at stake that the different teams tend to pull together to fix it fast.

4) Moving to cross-functional teams and introducing automation where it is most needed and likely to succeed are the cornerstones to success.

5) After training, enabling your teams to work autonomously with a self-service capability to provision their own architecture and develop tooling frameworks is essential.

6) A bottom up approach is best for both better code and the flow of innovation, so enable developers to use trusted and proven opensource APIs and take advantage of containerisation for standardisation and efficiency in any environment.

7) Don’t be tempted to centralise or you will end up with your DevOps team itself operating in a silo, which is fatal. Instead create a DevOps team for each line of business, for example retail banking, credit and investment banking.

8) Remember that your ultimate goal is continuous integration and continuous delivery.

9) Make use of the cloud to create test environments that closely match production, accessible on demand and easy to scale up or down.

10) Abolish the stress and risk of big releases and break apps down into manageable microservices to be developed, tested and deployed individually. Create an automated framework that is right for your specific business and audit regularly to ensure ongoing efficiency.

In my next blog on DevOps I will look at the connection between DevOps and Digital Transformation. Is it the end-goal, a mere by-product or an essential Digital Enabler?

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