AFTAs 2018: Best Use of the Agile Methodology—Fitch Solutions

Fitch Solutions’ use of the Agile methodology helped deliver it the win in the category of the same name.

Remaining one step ahead in an increasingly competitive industry is not only about the quality of the technology, but the process by which it’s delivered. In an industry obsessed with speed and efficiency, it’s no surprise that the Agile methodology has risen to prominence over the last decade as an alternative to the time-consuming, costly and complex Waterfall approach, where projects might take many months, if not years, to complete. Today, end-users are demanding more from their service providers; Agile allows developers to increase their release cadence, delivering functionality in short bursts, becoming more cost effective and enhancing client collaboration throughout each point of their development cycle.

This is the second year the Agile category has been up for grabs at the AFTAs, with Fitch Solutions taking the title for its use of the methodology in developing its internally facing content management system (CMS) for analysts producing research for its Macro Intelligence Solution, housed on the FitchConnect platform. Fitch’s objective of rebuilding the CMS was to allow analysts to process information quicker, and convert their thoughts into valuable and easily consumed material. The development process was broken down into one, two and three-week sprints across 10 internal product teams, dedicated to various sections of the build and delivery. All members of each team—developers, quality assurance engineers, project managers, integration teams and even end-users—collaborated throughout the process, from brainstorming sessions to story building, planning, development, deployment, testing and feedback. “For us, the Agile method was great because it focuses more on working software, people talking and brainstorming together,” says Brian Filanowski, global head of data, product, technology, and solutions at Fitch Solutions. “Everybody gets in the room, from the end-users to the developers and the project managers. So as they are all in the room, they start looking at each part of the requirement and then break these down into fundamental chunks.”

The Agile framework allowed the firm to consistently meet deadlines, remain within budget, and more effectively satisfy client demands. The process has allowed it to deliver tangible results such as reducing the development time for client-facing webpages from six months to three weeks, reducing the number of steps required by analysts to complete reports by approximately one third, and increasing the overall speed of research publication by 18 percent. Agile has become fully embedded within Fitch Solutions releases, where it rolls out new functionality on its products every two weeks. Going forward, the firm will continue to tweak its development and delivery processes according to end-user requirements.

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