What has HTB learnt from their low-code journey?
In this episode, we’re at the offices of specialist bank HTB. Host Louise Bennett is joined by Project Manager, Faizal Danga and Business Analyst, Mike Beveridge who are users of Liberty Create low-code.
Louise arrived at HTB’s HQ with cake, to celebrate go-live of their “Keystone” project (built using Create and launched 4 months ahead of schedule). Listen to this episode to hear what Faizal and Mike had to say about their low-code journey and what they’ve learnt along the way.
Louise: Today I’m delighted to be in the offices of Hampshire Trust Bank with Project Manager Faizal Danga and Business Analyst Mike Beveridge. Hello to both of you! Thanks for having me. It’s great to be here, at Hampshire Trust Bank, otherwise known as HTB, who is a customer of our Liberty Create low-code solution. Can I start with you Faizal, what’s it like to be a Project Manager at HTB?
Faizal: Well, firstly welcome to Hampshire Trust Bank it’s a pleasure to have you here. I joined in November 2016 and since then the bank has accelerated its growth within a short period of time, and we’re now a truly digitally focussed specialist bank. This has allowed me to deliver a number of projects across the banks change agenda ranging from smaller initiatives to larger multiyear programmes, therefore exposing me to a wider variety of projects across the organisation. 2019 has been our busiest & most successful year in transforming our business.
Louise: And Mike – what’s a typical day in the life of a BA for HTB?
Mike: We are a small transformation team here at HTB, so although that means we are busy, we get exposed to all of the business lines, products and processes. This means that a typical day could include working on many different tasks over multiple projects. At present, I’m finalising a large draft BRD, peer-reviewing a colleague’s output and drafting wireframes for another project….we’re constantly learning and growing our knowledge. At HTB, we strive to be constantly innovating and improving…the work is usually challenging but always rewarding.
Louise: No two days are the same then? Must keep you on your toes! Can you tell us a bit about your journey with low-code?
Mike: Well, as individuals – we’re relatively new to low-code. We had heard and read about low code and we were naturally curious about how this approach could help us in delivering “Keystone” here at HTB. Until fairly recently – our delivery approach was probably more waterfall….but as an organisation, we are moving towards an agile model at an increasing pace. Where we utilise agile more heavily is our release management and test schedules. But now with Liberty Create, we have successfully designed, tested and deployed an entire application using Low Code.
Faizal: We’re delighted with the results, using low code allowed for seamless and expedited delivery, better than originally anticipated. Where low code sits in the realms of development vs your traditional computer programming is very clear to us. We’re looking forward to growing our technology capabilities using Netcall’s low code, adding to our current technology estate and allowing the bank to move towards the next generation of banking technology.
Louise: How technical do you feel you need to be to use low-code?
Mike: We don’t have backgrounds in development, but we’re reasonably technical, as we’re the link between business and technology….so we need to have an appreciation of terminology and how the technology works….and we’re growing that skillset constantly. But we don’t think you need to be that technical. The benefits, from what we’ve seen, are that it’s a lot easier than we ever thought it would be.
Louise: How easy has it been to get to grips with low-code?
Faizal: Very easy, it’s very different to our experience of ‘typical’ programming and therefore makes it easier to digest how low-code works and how effectively the building blocks come together. This also means that we’re able to make changes a lot faster, allowing for rapid development.
Louise: What have been the benefits of implementing low-code? What challenges has it helped you to solve?
Mike: Speed is a huge benefit of low-code. We’ve found it very quick & easy to help us overcome design & functionality challenges. For example, if we’re in a workshop with our stakeholders and our sponsors, and they want to move data fields around a screen, move to other screens, or just something as simple as changing the text style or colours or maybe incorporate a different design features, this can now be achieved in minutes, not days it wouldn’t have taken using traditional programming.
Faizal: When we think about that, the way we’ve adopted low-code has enabled us to become leaner in our cost control and spend management, particularly when we can train in-house and reduce additional overheads where necessary. We have dedicated onsite trained resource minimising our need to use external Professional Services. So with this in mind, it’s quick, easy and efficient.
Mike: We’ve also found that low code fosters much stronger working relationships as the process is way more collaborative. As a PM and BA we can sit with developers and help them ‘see’ the change we require, a major benefit for us. Past projects would require as opposed to a conference call with an external development resource – low-code is just a lot quicker for us.
Faizal: It’s also helped to improve stakeholder management, the faster we can react to product owners or project sponsors, the better the project team is perceived and this again strengthens the working relationship for the rest of the project lifecycle and beyond.
Mike: Using low-code has changed the way the business views development, they see development through the lens of transformation. But now, they see how quick low-code can be, and the reality is ”Keystone” was delivered way ahead of timescales and below budget, now they treat the way we develop applications for them in a much more positive light. So it’s a massive step forward for us.
Louise: Can you provide some more detail about project Keystone and what it encompasses?
Mike: It’s for our colleagues in our development finance team. The spotlight was on myself and Faizal because they are one of the teams in the bank that traditionally has a lot of change go through them, they’re using some of our oldest systems, and they’ve got a growing portfolio. It was a huge challenge for us to digitise their processes and give them a much better user experience and all the good stuff that comes with it, like data integrity, security. Because we’ve used Liberty Create to build that application we can customise it going forward so make it better, faster and easier for them (as demands change).
Louise: Is it fair to say that this technology has changed your relationship with off-the-shelf solutions?
Faizal: We see low code as the future and the preferred method of strengthening our technology capabilities. Netcall gives us that custom-fit we’ve been looking for, with all the digital features and communications we need. This means it becomes more cost-effective than an off the shelf solution. Looking forward, into 2020 and beyond, this is the way we’ll continue to build our technology capabilities.
Louise: Knowing what you know now, and with this technology in mind, what advice would you go back in time to give your former self at the start of your journeys?
Faizal: Good question! From my perspective, there’s always a degree of nervousness when we’re looking at traditional programming methods. It can become nerve-racking from inception through to completion, simply because of all the unknowns and the different challenges project teams face. However, using low-code, we’ve become more resilient in the face of setbacks and kept our project on course. As a result, delivering ahead of time and under budget is underpinned by having low-code technology.
Mike: From a BA standpoint, traditionally we don’t get too close to the development, but knowing what we know now, you’d go back and say that development can be a lot less time consuming and it can be much more straightforward than we ever thought it could be using low-code. It’s not a dark art now, we know more about it and we’ve learnt that Bas can play a role in the development journey as well.
Louise: Anything you can share on your future plans?
Mike: We’ve got some very exciting news that we plan to launch our new low-code fragrance. We’ll keep the name under wraps for now… (He jokes).
All joking aside, having gone through the Keystone journey, and knowing all the benefits and the edge it gives us, it was an acid test because we surprised ourselves and the business in a good way by delivering so early and under budget. I guess this will become the blueprint for how we do it going forward.
Faizal: At a senior level it’s how we’ll continue to build our technology estate and capabilities, so for us, low-code is the way forward, it’s cost-effective, simple and takes away the risk. It’s worked perfectly from our perspective.
Louise: Sounds awesome! All the best for 2020.