There was a time when software developers looked to Agile as an alternative to the waterfall development methodology, which, for many capital markets projects tended to be too long-winded and exposed them unnecessarily to scope-creep, missed deadlines and inflated budgets. Now, Agile is the norm—the only way to continually drip-feed new functionality to end-users—for most firms and third-party technology vendors serving them. This is the second year this category has been on offer—last year it was won by Pittsburgh-based Confluence, but this year it is Boston-based Eze Software in the winners’ circle.
Eze employs 55 Agile teams comprising four programs that constitute the firm’s development “portfolio,” ensuring that the teams are unified in their methods and that progress is continually monitored against goals and priorities. Each team includes developers, quality assurance personnel, a scrum master and a user-experience specialist, who work alongside various other roles specific to individual programs. Each program features a product owner who sits between it and its clients (end-users), responsible for gathering feedback from clients, the client services team, sales and other stakeholders, and using that feedback to create what Eze calls “product improvement themes” (PITs) that use an approach aimed specifically at solving market problems. Product owners are also responsible for creating acceptance criteria for solutions and tracking their development.
Eze breaks down its PITs into initiatives, epics, stories and tasks, with release cadences coordinated so that similar functionality is released simultaneously. Continuous, documented communication takes place between development teams, product owners and client service teams throughout this process using Jira, Kanban and Salesforce to ensure transparency and control over the feedback loop. Each team and program uses traditional Agile events such as stand-ups, reviews, scrums of scrums and retrospectives to manage the development process, while demos occur at both sprint and release levels. The process is documented and tightly integrated with customer management and user experience. An example of this is the Eze Investment Cloud platform, which features a feedback widget allowing clients to enter feedback about the product, which automatically appears in a Slack channel and is visible to all roles within the Cloud program, including engineers.
According to Eze, the firm’s Agile framework has yielded a cloud-based commission management platform and FX trading functionality, an OMS trade importer, and enhanced crossing functionality within the firm’s EMS, all within the last 12 months. Additionally, the Eze Investment Cloud is being developed based on client feedback, incorporating two-week sprints to release new functionality.
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