August 29, 2023
The Middle East, and in particular Saudi Arabia, stands at the cusp of a banking and fintech revolution. Driven by Vision 2030 and a passionate push towards diversification and innovation, the Kingdom is rapidly transforming its financial sector to match - and in many cases, exceed - global standards.
As we delve deeper into this digital age, organisations in this sector need frameworks that enable agility, rapid response to market demands, and a customer-first approach. All this without losing sight of fundamental non-negotiables such as highly robust security and aligning to legislative and regulatory frameworks.
Enter Scrum, an Agile framework with the power to navigate the unique challenges and opportunities present in the Middle Eastern banking landscape. The following article will explore how Scrum can directly help banks and fintech organisations to reduce risk, increase customer satisfaction and create a culture of empirical product development. It will then go on to outline how enterprise Agile coaching can be pivotal to driving change within product development teams.
Get in touch with us for a free consultation if you would like to explore any of the topics discussed below, or to find out how our enterprise Agile coaches could help your business to deliver faster, better and cheaper.
Challenges and Risks in the Banking and Fintech Sector
The banking and fintech sector, especially in the ever-evolving Saudi market, grapples with several challenges:
- Rapid Technological Advancements: The pace of technological change is dizzying, with disruptive innovations like blockchain, cryptocurrencies, AI-driven analytics, and mobile banking reshaping the industry landscape.
- Cybersecurity Threats: As digital platforms grow, so does the threat of cyberattacks, requiring proactive risk management, and rapid responses to threats using cutting-edge technologies.
- Regulatory Compliance: The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) often revises its guidelines, ensuring that banking operations align with the best global practices.
- Evolving Customer Expectations: The modern Saudi customer expects personalised services, 24/7 accessibility, and seamless user experiences.
So, how can Scrum play a role in addressing these challenges?
The Scrum Advantage
- Adaptable to Rapid Change: Scrum operates an empirical feedback loop called a Sprint, which is 1 month or less in duration, enabling teams to swiftly adapt to new technological or market shifts. This rapid iteration ensures that banking applications and platforms remain state-of-the-art and are constantly refined based on feedback.
- Mitigating Threats through Regular Reviews: The frequent reviews intrinsic to Scrum allow fintech firms to build responses to potential cybersecurity threats early, ensuring that counter-measures can be implemented well in advance. Stakeholders across the business that are accountable for handling cybersecurity are given greater transparency into product development through Sprint Reviews and are able to provide inputs into an emergent backlog of future requirements, which can then be appropriately prioritised by a dedicated Product Owner.
- Ensuring Compliance: Scrum’s emphasis on the concept of “Done” ensures that regulatory requirements are incorporated into the product's backlog, ensuring that each product release (called an Increment in Scrum) aligns with SAMA’s latest guidelines and is not a risk for final release. Scrum uses something called the Definition of Done to ensure that must-have compliance requirements for a product are understood by everyone in the team and organisation. When work in a Sprint is done, that means that it has been thoroughly tested against the Definition of Done throughout the Sprint, thereby ensuring that these non-negotiable compliance requirements are met before being released to the market.
- Enhancing Customer Experience: By focusing on delivering maximum value, Scrum ensures that the end-users – the customers – remain the focal point of all development efforts. New innovations and features can be tested and validated early thereby giving the business confidence that when they are built and launched, the market will respond positively. This limits wasted time and wasted money in building products that your users just don’t want or don’t resonate with.
The Benefits of Onsite Enterprise Agile Coaching
While understanding Scrum's advantages is pivotal, the implementation is where many falter. Bringing in an enterprise Agile coach, especially one working onsite, can be transformative. Here's why:
- Focused implementation: An onsite coach, with a deep understanding of the cultural and operational nuances of your organisation can help to ensure that the Scrum Framework is adopted effectively. An Agile Transformation does not just require technical/skills development: it is arguably more about cultural change. This is where an onsite coach can really help - working within your organisation ensuring that cultural and legacy operational models are understood, whilst fostering change and empowering teams within new Agile ways of working.
- Continuous Feedback Loop: Onsite coaches work alongside your teams and therefore can provide real-time feedback, allowing teams to course-correct swiftly and ensuring that the Scrum processes are optimally aligned with organisational goals. This reduces the burden on team leaders or management, who rarely have the time required to dedicate to a change initiative as important as an Agile Transformation. Devolving the day-to-day stewardship of the transformational to experienced, dedicated onsite coaches will dramatically increase the chances of positive change happening, and becoming embedded.
- Building an Agile Culture: Beyond mere processes, Agile is a mindset. An onsite coach can foster this mindset across hierarchies, ensuring a holistic Agile transformation. They will not just work with the product teams to drive change, but also with the wider business helping them to understand the value of Agile and explaining how senior leaders can play a pivotal role in the overall transformation.
As Saudi Arabia propels forward in its journey to be a global banking and fintech hub, the need for Agile, responsive, and effective operational frameworks becomes paramount. Scrum, with its proven track record in industries worldwide, offers a beacon for organisations navigating these exciting waters.
For leaders keen on ensuring their organisations don't just adapt but thrive in this transformative era, understanding Agile Frameworks, such as Scrum, and having the right experienced guidance is vital. After all, in the fast-paced world of finance and technology, agility isn't just an advantage; it's a necessity.
If you’d like to explore how our experienced enterprise Agile coaches can help your organisation transform using Agile, get in touch.