Agile: a continuing evolution

ANZ is three years into its agile transformation and we’re often asked, apart from job titles and organisational structure, what has changed? What tangible benefits has agile had on the bank?

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The genesis of agile - or ‘New Ways of Working’ at ANZ - came about from a trip Gerard Florian and I took to visit banks in Europe to see and hear what they were doing.

"The whole culture of our company is now about agility. It’s about flexibility and the ability to continue to adapt. Hence the way we operate is continuing to change as we learn and modify. It’s a continuing evolution.” Shayne Elliott

We went there to talk about core banking systems and technology but we also ended up looking at the way they worked, particularly at ING and a couple of other banks. Not just what they were doing but how they were doing it.

Fast forward a few years and what’s interesting is now people come to us to learn about our experience - in the same way we used to go and visit other companies and learn about their agile transformation.

A new way of working

The whole culture of our company is now about agility and continuous improvement. It’s about flexibility and the ability to continue to adapt and focus on the customer at the heart of everything we do. Hence the way we operate is continuing to change as we learn and modify. It’s a continuing evolution of how we work.

Here are some concrete numbers; about 14,000 people work in an agile way across ANZ today in the tribes and squad structures that have become familiar to many of us.

We also have more than 10 million transactions per day in Jira and Confluence. These are the tools we use to help manage workflow and collaboration across Ways of Working teams. That tells you a lot about the interaction agile has fostered.

The number of changes implemented by the technology team has jumped significantly across functions as varied as internet banking, core banking, payments, Microsoft Teams, email services, customer complaints and finance reporting. And all this has been achieved while improving stability at the same time.

There have been numerous recent examples of how the agile transformation has enabled rapid change within our business. Our entire workforce, for example, was able to quickly work remotely during the pandemic due to a cross-functional team and a collaborative effort to upgrade the technology to enable this shift.

We fast-tracked the implementation of Microsoft Teams so we could easily collaborate and effectively work from home.

Transformation proves its worth

One example of NWOW at the business level is the launch earlier this year of our new digital lending platform for small businesses, ANZ GoBiz.

Agile allowed 45 tribes and tech areas across ANZ to collaborate and enabled the integration of 18 different internal technology systems with four external partners to create a brand-new digital platform.

We co-created ANZ GoBiz with more than 300 business owners and their accountants and bookkeepers. This provided a great appreciation of the need for lending certainty – a fast yes or, in some cases, a fast no.

The accelerated decision making was made possible by establishing cross-functional delivery squads comprised of frontline bankers, technology architects, experience designers, data engineers, credit risk and assurance experts, among others.

A process of experimentation enabled us to devise a way to integrate external financial data to provide that instant lending decision our business customers were seeking. This was all achieved during a pandemic by teams from across the country collaborating remotely, rather than in physical workshops in Melbourne.

ANZ customer Andrew Stark runs a leisure business in Queensland, One Shot Gel Blasters. He urgently needed funds to buy new machinery to make spare parts for the business, rather than importing them.

On a trip from Mackay to Townsville, where he had been competing in the National Paintball Championships, Andrew spoke with his banker who told him about ANZ GoBiz. Andrew immediately pulled over to the side of the road and applied for a business loan on his smartphone.

Andrew received conditional approval in minutes and had access to the funds within 48 hours, instead of the normal waiting period of more than four weeks.

Since the channel's launch we’ve delivered 11 releases in 11 months, containing various enhancements and new functionality. As a result we’ve been able to double the amount of customers eligible to receive lending via ANZ GoBiz.

There is no doubt in my mind we are a far better bank today because of new ways of working. Our ability to deal with change and be resilient has been made possible by it.

To see the growth mindset ANZ has shown over the last 18 months, look no further than ANZ GoBiz and how we successfully shifted from working in the office to working from home, all a reflection of the heart of Ways of Working at ANZ.

You might think these things have nothing to do with agile but I believe it has everything to do with the transformation. It's about being open-minded, empowering our teams and continuous improvement. Getting the right things done the right way to deliver better products and services to our customers.

Shayne Elliott is CEO of ANZ

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