senior manager, SunGard Global Services


The New World of Agile Development: The Whole is Greater than the Sum of Its Parts


In the U.S., the baseball season is in full swing. Baseball fans everywhere have surely witnessed greatness as individual players often strive to win for their teams more than for themselves. In fact, in the case of many great athletes who have never won championships, some might argue that those players were more invested in themselves than the team. When it comes to today’s financial markets, like in baseball, a successful firm – or team – needs to understand the old adage “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

In particular, financial firms today should focus on the team vs. individual concept with regard to agile software development methodology.

At the very heart of this emerging technology development methodology is the concept of collaboration. Collaboration extends from the end client through the engineers creating or updating the solution. The beauty of agile development is the promotion of breaking down the walls that divide the various stakeholders — clients, business analysts, developers, testers, etc. – by bringing all of them together often.

Traditional software development methodologies such as Waterfall created silos of roles and responsibilities that were guided by a project manager. Collaboration was always facilitated through the project manager, and was generally not encouraged across the enterprise.  The whole here was not often greater than the sum of its parts, as collaboration and interaction were stunted, and individuals were not allowed or encouraged to function as a team.

Introduce agile development. Break down the silos! Clients, facilitators/project managers, business analysts, engineers, and testers all come together as a united “well-oiled machine” that promotes collaboration to build the best possible software and operational solutions.

Sounds great, but how? Communication between all stakeholders occurs regularly, usually every day. Constant feedback and daily software iterations are shared across the team to allow the agility and flexibility to embrace changes and “tweaks” until the client is thoroughly satisfied. This is about a team-focused approach, where communication and collaboration allow the team to “win the championship.”

To take this a step further, let’s look at how agile development could relate to the world of post-trade processing. If we just look at the post-trade world, we understand that processing a trade requires so many core functions – purchase and sales, clearance and settlement, customer and general ledger processing, etc. – that agile development may not intuitively feel like the right solution.

Sometimes, the more complex the solution, the more likely that agile development may not be right for the project. However, there are many opportunities in the post-trade space, such as Dodd-Frank, or technological innovation (e.g. mobile or tablet integration) – that agile development may be the perfect option. At the end of the day, agile is a flexible and a results-oriented methodology, and should be considered for all kinds of post-trade software projects today.

To gain competitive advantages and achieve growth, teamwork and collaboration are the right ingredients for success. Whether in the context of post-trade processing software development or the World Series of baseball, winners recognize that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

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