ANZ, Atlassian & lessons from a meteoric rise

When I first joined ANZ in 2017 I was new to banking. But I understood we wanted – and needed - a technology division which would help transform a 180-year-old bank into an organisation fit for the digital economy.

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One of the people I turned to for advice was Dom Price, Atlassian’s Head of R&D and Workplace Futurist. Not only is Atlassian the most-successful software company in Australia, they have built that success on their ability to connect teams with software in an agile environment.

"Great products come from great teams. Great teams are driven by great leadership. And great leadership comes from a great culture.” 

Because of course it’s not just the software behind the successful culture.

For a long time people in the technology sector have spoken about collaboration and the many different ways it can be achieved. One of the things which really stood out to me in how Atlassian approached it was the idea of a value chain – it sounds like management waffle I know but stay with me here.

If you want to build great services or great products in a digital age, which ANZ certainly does, it goes like this: great products come from great teams. Great teams are driven by great leadership. And great leadership comes from a great culture. 

This grabbed my attention and I started to really dig in. I wanted to know, what were the lessons Atlassian had learned and what are the subsequent practices they’ve put in place given we know their rise has been pretty meteoric?

Given we’re entering into a strategic partnership, I really wanted to know: how does Atlassian use its own software to run its business?

Beyond tools

Atlassian gave some good practical examples of how we could think about using their tools more broadly than just in development teams. Critically, that is about going beyond just using tools to improve an existing process to how it can become, from a technology point of view, part of ANZ’s internal operating system.

That means tools become mainstream and are used across the organisation. For example, does a tool like Confluence only hold developer procedures? Or does it become a major repository for technology related procedures accessed by folks across the entire enterprise?

Fortunately, our relationship with Atlassian has been a two-way street.

It might surprise some but the team at Atlassian have also wanted to learn from ANZ about being agile – or more specifically, about how to transform a large, traditional organisation into a large, agile organisation.

Our agile-based workplace transformation, New Ways of Working, has been well documented in these pages and other media. With the Australia division having completed its major transformation piece, we are now going through similar change with the Technology division.

At scale

Atlassian is looking to learn from ANZ about change like this at scale. They have large organisations using their products but the scale we're using it at and the regulated environment we're in means we've got some requirements a little different to some of their previous customers.

And we're making very sure as we roll this out more broadly, we do that in an appropriate and risk-managed way.

Regulated institutions are different. The financial services industry rightly requires certain levels of traceability when it comes to things like approving and applying change.

Furthermore, as technology risk becomes a larger part of operational risk for all businesses, it is likely these requirements will extend far beyond finance and other currently regulated industries.

Our enterprise licencing agreement with Atlassian is to use their collaboration tools such as Jira and Confluence and their development tools Bitbucket and Bamboo. But as with most fruitful relationships, this is as much about a strategic partnership as it is a formal agreement.

Dom spent time with me, our Chief Executive Shayne Elliott and our head of Talent and Culture, Kathryn van der Merwe during the earlier stages of our transformation. We picked his brain on subjects like ‘how does Atlassian think about things like performance management in an agile world?’

Given we are an older organisation and we’re trying to learn these experiences are incredibly valuable.

As the world continues to evolve and adapt to a fast-paced digital economy, it is more important than ever to have people who can help us meet the challenges and grasp the opportunities on offer.

None of this is easy and ANZ is not done with its transformation yet we are making great progress in realising our goal of becoming a truly agile organisation – in culture and in practice.

Gerard Florian is Group Executive, Technology at ANZ

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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