How Agile are we? – vol. 2

Mariann Harrison

How Agile are we? – vol. 2

Author: János Szilágyi, PMP, Head of PMO at ApPello

This is how we train our agile dragon!

Our previous blog post made it clear that agility is not some miracle weapon and when held the wrong way, it can often misfire in the hands of beginners.

It doesn’t matter if the product developer is agile, this is not always sufficient to get up to the same speed as the customer. Naturally, there are best practices and after extensive experience, ApPello has accrued some of methodologies and tips that can ease the client’s job as well.

Take this, limper, here’s a hump!

The most common reason for slow response times is that the client has not created a dedicated team for projects.

Everyone involved has the burden of the project dumped on them on top of their day-to-day work, therefore they are unable to give their best in terms of capacity, creative thinking or motivation. Luckily, there are examples to the contrary. There exists many banks that set up a separate team specifically charged with the development of innovative products, which operates within this large organization as a quasi startup. Members of the team only work on the given project, thus allowing them to react with agility, validate rapidly and their added value is all the greater.

Minority report

The second bottleneck is decision-making and responsibility.

It is more difficult for any decision to pass through an organization operating in a matrix. Most banks separate the professional and technical divisions and the two teams are not always on the same wavelength. The IT department is happy to dissent. That’s why it is better for the client to have a dedicated person with project manager’ authority who has genuine decision-making powers, perhaps even with CEO authorization. This is the person who brings the crew together, determines the destination and has a firm hand on the tiller. This is the person who can see the big picture.

Close marking

In the meantime, ApPello doesn’t sit around twiddling its thumbs waiting for a representative of the client to dish out jobs and feedback in-house.

One of our most tried and tested methods is close marking: a dedicated person should be located in every specialist area with whom we can communicate directly, thereby short-circuiting the formal chain of command. At the same time, it is vital never to sidestep the reporting structure so that the trust of superiors is never shaken.

Influencer – does he/she have a place in project management?!

Anyone who has caught the buzzwords ‘tribe’ and ‘scrum master’ will certainly be familiar with ‘influencer’ as well.

Well, a good project manager must be able to comply with many criteria: he/she has to think like a good engineer, yet at the same time be creative. But the most important thing is that he/she can motivate people involved in the project without going beyond spheres of responsibility.

On-the-fly development

Frequently, on-the-fly development allows for the faster rollout of a product.

This is when the product is tested during implementation so that valuable feedback is received allowing for further fine tuning. This is an iteration, also referred to in agility; subsequent steps are based on a tested, functioning module.


There are cases where prior to stepping into testing phase, the client’s IT system is not ready to run the new product or it does not have the resources to do so, the claim process is lengthy, a group-level license is required for the server, etc.

In these cases, ApPello provides a platform for the testing and it actively participates in the development of the infrastructure.

Human factor

When it comes to innovative banking product developments, the assignment of cross-border service providers was typical up till now but with the onset of the Covid situation, the arrangement of joint projects has now come under even more severe physical limitations.

The best solution is to commission a service provider which has a global network thus it is always capable of dedicating local liaison staff to the project. This is important not only because of cultural differences. The experience of ApPello is that the human touch goes a long way in joint projects even during periods of home office, when the people involved are not merely profiles in a project management app, be it Jira or Confluence, but there is some way of speaking in person, even if it is only over the phone.

It works for some, let’s see how they do it!

NASA are a great example of how an enterprise can be agile in a rigid environment.

On the one hand, the conquest of space is the riskiest project in the world, yet space travel demands preparation with the greatest foresight within a strict budgetary framework. And yet from the 1980s onwards they employed iterative, agile methods for every product development while at the same time observing precise planning, tight schedules and rigorous documentation.

Give ApPello a trial and we’ll prove that it’s not the space suit that is heavy, but gravity is too high!

Leave a Comment