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Agents of Change: Household UK Banking Leader Partners with Cprime to Transform Ways of Working
Industry: International Finance and Banking
Company Size: 65,000 Employees
Location: London, UK with regional offices worldwide
Products: Asset management, personal and commercial banking, credit cards, investment management, mortgage loans, wealth management
Under increasing pressure from disruptive, digitally-native cloud financial services, this long-standing UK banking institution partnered with Cprime to increase organizational agility and reduce its time to market on new product offerings.
This London-based institution is one of the country’s most well-known household brands. Its name has been synonymous with financial services for generations. As a primary clearing house and the largest retail bank in England, Scotland, and Wales, the bank serves over 30 million customers through its 1300 branches and extensive ATM network.
The Challenge: Meeting Modern Consumer Expectations While Maintaining Traditional Values
A pedigree dating back centuries is beneficial in terms of brand recognition, but in a volatile marketplace affected by emergent technology, words like traditional and legacy often describe strategic disadvantages.
“Faced with universal adoption of mobile technology and cloud-based financial services, the bank was falling behind new, digitally native financial organizations disrupting the marketplace,” explains Robert Hill, Cprime’s Training Lead. “The bank had to modernize product services, but it was a traditional organization dependent on old technology. It had legacy on-premises IT ecosystems, services, and ways of working.”
Seeking the digital path
Because it needs to remain competitive, the bank needed a strategic system of transformation that would put it on a digital path. It also needed to attract modern consumers without jeopardizing over 200 years of hard-earned trust within its existing consumer base.
“Four years later, we are still delivering. We hold quarterly training as part of the bank’s onboarding process. The courses evolve with each session, and the lessons we have learned from the partnership improve our interactions with other clients.” — Robert Hill, Training Lead, Cprime
“To challenge the market disruptors, the bank needed to change,” says Hill. “But it wasn’t a start-up—a change meant re-engineering entire systems and platforms, and that entailed repurposing and reeducating thousands of employees towards modern, agile ways of working. The competition was steps ahead.”
At first, the bank’s internal teams identified key areas for change and established an internal agile program to align its key teams and departments with the digital financial marketplace. It had a transformation strategy but lacked an effective partner to help put it into place. Additionally, previous transformation attempts had met with limited success.
“For many years, the bank had a clear driver to modernize and become a proactive, productive, and adaptive organization relevant to the new consumer base,” says Hill. “They’d tried to affect change, but never got traction. They’d always gone back to the old ways of working. This time, however, the stakes were higher.”
The Solution: Re-engineering systems, tools, and ways of working with Cprime
Recognizing it lacked the in-house capability to drive transformation on an organizational scale, the bank turned to Cprime in 2018.
“The bank wasn’t interested in agile for agile’s sake, but a full agile reset. That meant re-engineering, modeling new systems and tools, changing how its teams worked, and even the customers they were working for,” Hill relates. “The leadership engaged Cprime to provide the capacity it lacked. Besides coaching and training expertise, we had an established reputation for success. We brought an external perspective and an industry-standard view of the new way of working.”
Establishing a common language
Cprime began by building scalable scrum master and product owner courses to provide key team members with the core skills and techniques required to drive change. The training team adapted the certified Scrum Alliance role-based curriculum to share a common vocabulary and goals. This also augmented the bank’s in-house Agile Fundamentals program.
“The off-the-shelf approach wasn’t good enough. The bank had its own context for the training, a particular language it used to describe the organizational makeup of their new teams,” says Hill. “To meet their requirements, we worked with the Head of Transformation and transformation team to understand their goals and expected outcomes. From there, we co-created a set of learning objectives, consulting with stakeholders and guiding expectations.”
Gaining insights and building trust
The Cprime team created two pilot courses which they delivered to select cohorts within the organization. To build relationships, establish trust, and gain insights, the Cprime coaches embedded themselves within the cohorts and developed each course via a series of iterations, adapting the curriculum to take into account trainee input. The preparation time for each course totaled six to eight weeks. Even accounting for the logistics of a mass rollout, Cprime began full-scale training in under 10 weeks.
“From the teams’ perspective, we see a much stronger sense of ownership from stakeholders at every level. The effects of the training have trickled down to create empowered individuals in every role. The work environment is less a chain of command and more a cohesive network of people delivering value.” — Robert Hill, Training Lead, Cprime
“We developed the training using the same agile mindset we were looking to instill in the bank’s teams,” says Hill. “If we had used a traditional delivery method and waited until we had everything perfect, it would have taken months longer. We would also have missed opportunities for valuable feedback throughout the process.”
The Results: A Cohesive Network of People Delivering Value
The program’s effects rapidly became apparent throughout the organization as the training gained momentum across multiple teams.
“From the teams’ perspective, we see a much stronger sense of ownership from stakeholders at every level,” says Hill. “The effects of the training have trickled down to create an empowered set of individuals in every role. The work environment is now less a chain of command and more a cohesive network of people delivering value.”
A level playing field
The change has allowed the bank to scale up development initiatives and effectively manage dependencies between its teams to deliver new products quickly. From an organizational point of view, the bank’s leadership had the teams’ buy-in and the oversight it needed to compete in the digital service market.
“The training empowered teams to challenge the industry disruptors,” says Hill. “They have bottom-up agility with top-down intent.”
In the first two years of the engagement, the Cprime team trained around 2,000 product owners and scrum masters to lead the bank’s teams and drive its business objectives. Because of the program’s success and continued improvement, the engagement is ongoing.
“Four years later, we are still delivering. We hold training every quarter as part of the bank’s onboarding process,” says Hill. “The courses evolve with each session, and the lessons we’ve learned from the partnership improve our interactions with other clients.”Want to share with a colleague? Download the PDF
Featured Team Members
Having worked for over 20 years in both the private and public sector, Rob has vast experience leading and instigating transformational change through the use of digital technology. Rob is a certified Scrum Master, Product Owner, DSDM and Kanban Practitioner.