How we shipped and released our first banking app and the lessons we learned along the way.
We finally released it. The app. It was a journey comparable to Bilbo’s from Tolkien’s well-known adventure book, full of dragons and elves and other creatures you’ve always heard about but never met.
We had been invited to participate in a big project to help one of the largest financial corporation in the country to revamp their mobile application. Although this might sound like nothing special, it was – this was the first time that our client was eager to work with someone of our size and with our start-up pedigree and we convinced them that we’re the right company for the job. Imagine the story of David and Goliath but with a modern twist. There was a lot put on our shoulders, words like “pioneers”, “showcase” and “make sure we’re successful” were thrown around and, boy, we took them seriously.
The first lesson we learned was that in the corporate world things take a lot of time, actually much more than anyone anticipated or was willing to admit. There are protocols, procedures, paperwork and weekly meetings for seeking approval – almost a horror story to people coming from a world of start-ups. While this might not be a problem at first, it soon can become one when delays caused by the red tape put extra pressure on the project manager and the team, especially when you want to impress your super important client. I can’t stress enough the importance of having a great project team in such times – both internally at Equaleyes and on the client-side within the corpo – who are willing to go through the highs and lows using humour and giving an extreme level of commitment. I’m thankful and proud that I had, and still have to this day, the opportunity to work with such a great team.
Speaking of commitment – ever heard the story about the chicken and the pig and their level of commitment when preparing a “ham-and-eggs” breakfast? One of the hardest lessons for me was that, contrary to the assumption that we were going to be the chicken, we were the pig. I suspect that this might be quite a common case when dealing with the corporate world, especially if your project is just another project and maybe not even the most important one, more like a one small blip on their radar, nothing more, nothing less. The question remains, would it be any different if we knew this from the start? Probably not.
The next lesson was that corpo can be taught agile if the project team on the other side is receptive and willing to listed and discuss, but persistency and good arguments from our side don’t hurt either. Fortunately for us, in this case it was all of the above. We’ve been able to put the end users first and consider business goals at the same time. My favourite joke: introducing breaking changes in perception in large and rather rigid systems is like changing the direction of an 800-ton ocean tanker: they don’t turn very well, they need time and space to turn around, they are often operated by foreign crews that speak little or no tech language and the rule of the BIG applies [Twenty Tanker Tips]. At the end we’ve been able to play it smart, make sure everyone was aware of the end goal and we brought our oil tanker to where it was supposed to be.
Bringing such a complex app to life was both fun and tedious, easy and challenging, inspirational and stressful, yin and yang. We worked weekends, holidays and late nights to ship it, but when the release day came, they decided to postpone it because we hadn’t had enough time to include all the features yet. Releasing the app in sprints with batches of functionalities (the more agile way) would be better, but they had their own reasons why they pushed for all of the features. And now the big twist: suddenly the client decided to put us on hold and the new release date was not set. Our hearts stopped beating for a moment. We quickly learnt this is quite common when dealing with large clients: new management people arrive or management instantly shifts the focus elsewhere and, if all the planets align themselves, the focus is eventually back to you. The whole project team – on both sides – did our best to make the management see the release of the app is in the client’s best interest… and if you know by now – we made it: the app is out!
In the same way as Bilbo, we came back from our adventure into a corpo world a little older, a little wiser – and with a ring of experience, understanding and insight in our pockets.
This was an amazing journey. See you on the next one!
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Equaleyes Solutions Ltd.