This category, the first time it has been on offer in the Sell-Side Technology Awards, is awarded to a third-party technology vendor that has embraced the “early and often” release cadence synonymous with the Agile methodology, while also focusing its development work based on users’ needs determined by way of ongoing feedback loops upon which much of the methodology’s effectiveness rests. Proponents of the Agile methodology argue that it is not a way to develop and deliver software—it is the only way to do it, especially if you’re looking to do so as nimbly, accurately and cost-effectively as possible. It’s a position that is difficult to fault, given that Agile is unquestionably cheaper, faster, more consultative, more focused, and delivers tangible results more frequently than the methodology is replaces: Waterfall.
But if Agile is the way forward, why haven’t all technology vendors—and indeed capital markets firms on both sides of the industry—embraced its tenets? Well, many have, although Agile is not binary: It’s not a “yes-no” proposition, where you either do it or you don’t; instead, it is more of a continuum along which firms move, based on their resources, their development experience, and their clients’ needs.
One such firm well into its Agile journey is New York-based Synechron, a 7,000-strong digital consulting and technology firm that provides technology and various related services to capital markets clients by way of three core offerings: digital, business consulting, and technology. Syncheron, which also won this year’s best distributed-ledger technology project—also on offer for the first time—bases all of its development work on its interpretation of the Agile methodology. Sandeep Kumar, managing director at Synechron, explains that client demand drives the bulk of the firm’s development work. “In a blockchain project or any other emerging technology—we also do a lot of digital reimagination and artificial intelligence (AI) projects—banks are eager to get going, so we cannot afford anything longer than a few weeks. That’s the pressure they are under, whether it’s from the competition or from the internal business side,” he says.
Synechron’s initial sprints typically last for 10 to 12 weeks, company-wide, after which shorter, more iterative sprints are incorporated into projects so that new functionality can be drip-fed into future releases. “When we kick off new projects like blockchain, digital re-imagination or AI, we must be able to deliver a minimum viable product (MVP) within 12 weeks,” Kumar continues. “That is the maximum time it can take us. That involves use-case writing, prototyping, building, and showing the client a working solution. We worry about adding more functionality and industrializing the MVP later.”
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