Digital transformation is a business imperative for financial institutions seeking to capture market share and engage customers with mobile-friendly, self-service retirement options. This Fortune 100 financial services provider is no exception, and their leaders made a successful business case to increase the technology investment to upgrade and modernize the portfolio. Even with funding secured, achieving digital transformation is easier said than done.
It was essential to communicate the business vision to the technology teams in order to prioritize and execute against the business strategy to achieve maximum capital return. Product owners knew intrinsically what features and functionality their customers wanted, but translating that knowledge into clear development roadmaps put a burden on stakeholders with full schedules and tight timelines.
The client needed a systematic approach to define and document requirements and then move them quickly through the development cycle. Ventera stepped up with a flexible and practical solution.
This Fortune 100 financial services provider engaged Ventera for a comprehensive shared services engagement. Ventera established a dedicated support team to serve as advocates and advisors for business stakeholders. These PODs—Product Owner Delegates—act as business analysts and technical liaisons, serving as the business voice to technology teams.
Here’s how it works today: at any given time, five or six workstreams are ongoing, each with separate project or product owners from the business. These initiatives run the gamut from single-person, quick-hit tasks to multi-year efforts involving multiple large scrum teams. Ventera’s resource team of 21 flexes to accommodate the changing demand and deadlines, with the ability to tap into development resources on demand for critical support areas.
“The shared services approach gives this client complete flexibility to pivot quickly to support critical workstreams, without the need for time-consuming scope of work changes,” says Chris Ford, EVP, Business Services. “Ventera handles the big picture and the small details to ensure that the client’s business and tech teams work productively towards common goals.”
Ventera analysts become an integrated part of the product teams, helping to bridge the gap between business priorities and development backlogs. Seamless coordination enabled teams to ramp up quickly and execute consistently, enhancing speed-to-market for high-impact initiatives. As always, user-centered agile development lies at the core of every successful product launch or enhancement in the shared services engagement.
Important Business Context
Large-scale initiatives involving multiple parallel projects, budgets, project plans, and resources must be continuously adjusted to accommodate shifting priorities and schedules. When Ventera began the work, this Fortune 100 financial services provider was also undergoing a profound agile transformation. Taking the unique business landscape into account, Ventera’s experienced agile leaders adopted change management best practices to reexamine and re-engineer processes accordingly. At the same time, Ventera never lost sight of the client’s fiduciary oversight, compliance requirements, and risk mitigation efforts.
The Ventera team has a strong track record navigating the matrixed structures and operational complexities common to large enterprises. Throughout this engagement, Ventera’s product owner delegates have added value to each workstream by applying the company’s proven methodologies and best practices for user-centered agile development. Always a driving force in keeping the development team backlogs’ organized and prioritized, Ventera created user stories on behalf of the Product owners. In other words, Ventera takes the burden off business stakeholders by packaging up user needs into actual requirements that the IT team can consume and complete.
A typical workstream involves the following elements:
- Vision: Aligning team goals to leadership strategy
- Discovery: Taking a deep dive to extract the product owners’ preferences and priorities
- User story creation: Creating specific use cases that reflect explicit and implicit end-user needs
- Prototyping: Accelerating the development cycle with detailed design specifications and visualizations
- Development: On-demand advisory and hands-on support to execute the backlog
- Market deployment: Assisting in developing QA protocols, training programs, and user guides
The shared services engagement has evolved to a place of strong mutual trust, with Ventera initiating tasks and recommendations alongside client leaders. This Fortune 100 financial services provider and Ventera are united by a shared commitment to improve engagement with plan sponsors, participants, and internal sales channels.
Highlights from three specific projects exemplify the range of workstreams and illustrate the underlying principle of using technology to replace and reduce manual tasks. An intuitive user interface is just one piece of the puzzle, albeit an obvious one. Streamlined processes that eliminate redundancies and strip out costs reinforce the value of Ventera’s deep experience. Each of these projects launched successfully to enthusiastic and engaged audiences.
Portal Development Effort
This discovery-heavy initiative evolved into a national rollout of a comprehensive new proposal platform for more than 15,000 financial advisors. The project’s scope was wide-ranging and nuanced, taking into account diverse pre-sales, sales, and approval processes to build a real-time proposal development engine. From pipeline development to electronic signature processing, the Portal Development Platform modeled the benefits of Ventera’s user-centered design approach.
To support an enterprise conversion to a modernized reporting platform, Ventera created user stories for report conversion bringing a modernized approach to the user experience and recommended a phased approach to unlock additional efficiencies through further discovery and development.
Transactional Data Management
Third-party plan sponsors were using an outdated, macro-ridden Excel file to upload 401(k) rewards data into client systems. While still taking advantage of a familiar Excel-based interface, the revamped approach simplified and streamlined user processes. In-process visuals and guidelines improved the speed and accuracy of uploads, benefiting both parties.
A Compounding Value Proposition
With the flexible shared services approach, this Fortune 100 financial services provider has introduced more collaboration and clarity into its operations. As a “translator” between business stakeholders and technology practitioners, Ventera reduces friction and boosts mutual understanding. Perhaps most importantly, Ventera helps ensure product owners get what they want right out of the gates. As a result, the client has recognized the value of engaging Ventera early in the development cycle to capitalize on methodical discovery and integrated advisory.