Meet the client
Founded in 1949, OTP Bank Plc is the largest commercial bank in Hungary with a market share of over 25%, while OTP Bank Group is a leading independent financial service provider in the CEE region. It serves some 13 million customers, private and corporate, across Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia and Ukraine, and owns subsidiaries in the insurance, real estate, factoring, leasing and asset management, investment and pension funds space.
Understand the challenge
For a company as big as OTP Bank Plc, business agility, as in the ability to quickly adapt to changing customer demands, market opportunities and competitor threats, is both crucial and extremely difficult to achieve. The banking giant decided to adopt agile practices to drive greater customer and shareholder value as early as in 2019. But taking a big-bang approach to an organizational overhaul that involves nearly 40,000 employees and over a hundred subsidiaries did not seem like the right pick.
First, early adopter teams moved from yearly to quarterly planning and were grouped into tribes, aka units of 40-150 developers from similar fields and with a shared business focus. The tribe model is a widely used method to scale agile with people, autonomy, communication and accountability in mind.
Development needs, however, remained difficult to prioritize. The newly formed tribes defined their goals and deliverables every three months down to the last detail, while other units continued submitting their product development or change requests without any context. The idea was to create a marketplace for developers to track and complete tasks in order of priority. What they ended up with instead was a backlog with hundreds of entries, all marked as high urgency, and no way to prioritize them.
Explore the solution
With the 2021 launch of its new digital division, OTP Bank Plc reached a new milestone in its agile journey. First things first, they removed a major roadblock to effective prioritization: bringing the entire leadership on the same page about effective resource planning. Namely, why it’s key that they set their business goals first and then link those goals to the outcomes the development projects can provide. Once they got leadership buy-in, the division turned to us for help in transforming its vision into reality.
We built our solution on three pillars: examining incoming business line requests and breaking them down into smaller, more manageable components; designing and rolling out a planning methodology to match; and providing a tool with real-time prioritization capabilities to speed up and improve decision-making and with no need for massive development efforts. Tasked with delivering the last two components, we opted for Atlassian’s Jira issue and project tracking software, a solid, scalable solution for heavy-duty prioritization tasks.
See the results
A core team was the first to learn and try the new concept in practice, helping us optimize training activities and materials for the enterprise-wide rollout. We also held 25 coaching sessions for team members so they could ask questions, share feedback and even voice their frustrations about the challenges they ran into during the transition.
Eventually, both leaders and team members managed to ease into the new normal. So much so that it gave fresh momentum to the leadership’s efforts to seek common ground on improving development and collaboration across the organization. Not to mention continue on OTP Bank Plc’s path to group-wide agile transformation.
“Senior leadership must be sold on the change first. Then tribe and division managers, who ensure that projects are on track and delivered on schedule and in line with business priorities. It is absolutely possible to improve the workflows that are integral to making this happen. But not without the tools people actually want to use and understand how they can benefit from them.”
Bence Kisfalvi, Director of Agile Methodology and Business Development, OTP Bank