Tandem’s key to reliable financial services

Paul Clark, CTO at Tandem Bank, spoke up at the Agile Delivery 2017 Conference about using agile to help regular, reliable and repeatable financial services

Clark worked at ITV and HSBC before the digital challenger bank founded by a number of entrepreneurs, Tandem Bank. He revealed at the conference four main elements that make it possible to disrupt UK incumbent banks: The Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority, agile, human computer interaction and web usability.

“Agile and technology is a major differentiator. We have the ability to respond to threat in tech, data and analytics, and purpose and culture,” said Clark.

Technical strategies

Clark revealed there are a lot of technical strategies working for Tandem, including automation, Jenkins, cloud and infrastructure code, but strongly believes the most important aspect of achievement is a good work culture. “DevOps is all about culture. If you don’t get culture right, you won’t get anything right.

“If you’re trying to build, you need to test and learn and make a close relationship with your customer. You need your customers to trust you – which is where fintech has massively helped out.”

Clark announced that as long as agile is used well, the company would always be ahead: “The huge part of agile is helping you discover what’s needed, but you need to accept the agile way of working.”

‘Agile helps discover what is needed’

Like all companies, Tandem had to start somewhere, with the discovery process holding a lot of importance.

Clark continued: “When I turned up at Tandem they didn’t use agile, just sprints. There was an issue where people thought they were using agile, but were not. There is an easy way to determine if you’re doing agile or not. It’s only a differentiator if you’re actually doing it.

“Another issue Tandem face is it is not easy to create a code environment being a bank.”

‘Helping monitor and control production’

Automation has recently become a very popular creation and application of technology, helping monitor and control production, and the delivery of services and production.

“When I first started Tandem only just started building automation. Now everyone uses it. It is handy for linking back to a full history of everything going on in production – and another great aspect is that developers can use it as much as they like.”

“For production, no one does anything until reviewed. We decide what we are going to do by the quickest strategy.

The key to success

“Teams then get together, senior management pitch the sprint, then we negotiate dependencies. Between processes we have had a huge increase in productivity.”

A good team is the key to success at Tandem: “Teams have the knowledge and skills to complete an end-to-end customer centric feature. If not, the team is expected to learn or acquire the needed knowledge and skill,” said Clark.

“You need to make sure you have good scrum masters, product managers, an agile coach, on-shore product managers and tech leads. If you have on-shore and off-shore tech leads, make sure they work together. At Tandem our supplier was from Poland, and it worked great.”

Clark also noted Tandem’s next step is to use infrastructure in the cloud for consistency, and to help keep moving and fix issues.

Written by Leah Alger