BST Awards 2020: Best use of the agile methodology by a technology vendor—MarketAxess

Buy-Side Technology Awards 2020

MarketAxess completed its first major project using the agile methodology this year, with the development of Live Markets, which secured its win in the agile methodology category in this year’s Buy-Side Technology Awards. Live Markets is an institutional live order book for the credit markets and accompanies MarketAxess’ growing suite of fixed-income solutions.

Nick Themelis, CIO of MarketAxess, says the inspiration for the transition to agile development emerged around two years ago, following a trip to Silicon Valley where he visited the offices of tech behemoths such as Amazon and Netflix, and was shown how they developed technologies.

“I was blown away at how they thought about building software and it just struck me as a better way [of developing]. I felt a strong sense of urgency to transform what we were doing, and we undertook that journey [to agile],” Themelis says.

By leveraging the agile methodology, MarketAxess was able to incorporate client feedback throughout the development of Live Markets and deliver the solution within eight months. The company’s development team introduced the client input and bug fixes in two-week sprints. It designed a separate architecture for Live Markets, enabling it to be supported outside of the main trading system and permitting updates to be made more efficiently. As a result of the separate design, the MarketAxess team was able to build a new front-end and develop typing controls within the Live Markets ATS, in collaboration with clients. 

Themelis says the transition to agile is part of a broader initiative where all MarketAxess staff, from practitioners to the firm’s senior management, are being trained on how to implement the methodology. “It can’t be done piecemeal, so we went all in, and it’s proved to be a really powerful methodology for us,” he adds.

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