Is Agile Development Only for Nerds?

Eskander Matta

Eskander Matta

This man says, “No.” So what? He may look a little nerdy but he is a Senior Vice President at Wells Fargo Bank and using agile development techniques, he has dramatically reduced the time to develop new products for Wells Fargo’s online business.

 
What’s the big deal? Eskander Matta is not a software developer, and he is not in the IT department. Eskander is a banking executive, with a Harvard MBA, who thinks traditional development methodologies are impediments to building new online products faster and better. Eskander believes, “There is so much innovation in Financial Services that speed to market is critical. A lengthy linear process inhibits one’s ability to compete.”

Eighteen months ago, Eskander got a group of bank employees together to take a meat cleaver to a development cycle that had 26 artifacts (think: pieces of documentation). His goal was to remove all artifacts that had no downstream consumer. “If no one is going to read it, then get rid of it”, he asked the team. The team whacked the process down to 5 artifacts. Then equally important, all this was enabled with a wiki.

As is most often the case, Eskander, the business guy, asked the IT dept what wiki to use. The IT guys told him to use Confluence.

By underpinning everything with the wiki, communication and interaction between people was enabled. “If the wiki was a static word document, it wouldn’t have worked”, Eskander points out. The wiki enabled collaboration in a more formal sense.

What’s so interesting is…

  • A business executive took the leadership to streamline development using Agile Development concepts.
  • The outcome was fantastic: 26 development artifacts reduced to 5.
  • The result ended up on one collaborative work space on a wiki.
  • All this was in service of a major bank producing new online products faster.

Granted, Financial Services is largely an information business, this sector is the biggest spender on IT, and in this instance, the product was the Internet. Yet, this story is compelling evidence that there are other executives out there who understand what technology can do, who seek best practices like Agile Development, and who seek out the newest collaborative technologies.

4 responses to “Is Agile Development Only for Nerds?

  1. Pingback: Project Management 2.0? Why, What’s Wrong with 1.0? | CloudAve

  2. Jeffrey, as I also wrote today, Agile is technical concept with profound business implications.

    Unfortunately, these technical dimensions sometimes obscure the business aspects:


    http://blogs.zdnet.com/projectfailures/?p=1057

  3. actually i’m writing my master thesis right now doing a qualitative study of sw development done outside of the IT department in a case firm. By now we have discovered a lot of the business units in our case firm are in fact using agile methods in programming as well as in project managment being lightyears ahead of the IT-dept.

    After the qualatative study we will look into wether or not this creates more innovation or not, and what kind of innovation it creates.

  4. Thanks for the post. This is give me new idea to my business

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