In the digital economy, it really doesn't matter what line of business you are in. All organizations are facing growing pressure to operate at DIGITAL SPEED.
Ever-changing expectations are forcing organizations to accelerate operations and improve brand interactions for customers and employees alike.
It takes a modern low-code platform, not just to automate back-end processes and build enterprise-class applications (apps) 10 times faster than ever before, but to also accelerate the digital transformation journey.
Picture this scenario.
You're the Chief Risk Officer for a major, highly-regulated, financial services organization. But your company lacks the digital technology to keep up with an ever-changing regulatory environment.
You're on the hook to transform your organization into an icon of regulatory compliance. The challenge is, you've got lots of ground to cover, and not much time to do it.
Unfortunately, your organization's processes are executed manually, which could expose you to increased risk of human error and noncompliance.
To turn things around, you need a digital transformation solution that will enable you to centralize enormous amounts of documentation, optimize efficiency for business users, and streamline complicated audit processes faster than you ever imagined.
What would you do in a situation like that?
Here's how we overcame a similar challenge at OCC, (the Options Clearing Corporation), the world's largest equity derivatives clearing organization.
For starters, we upgraded our software development capabilities to a low-code platform, which allowed us to quickly streamline our compliance processes, so we could operate at digital speed.
We also decided to implement a new initiative, which allowed our development team to dedicate an entire day to automating a complete end-to-end process.
This initiative would not have been possible without the agility and go-to-market speed that low-code development provides.
Here's a blueprint for our "Build An App Day" initiative, which any organization can follow, including a quick case study.
When we plan an iteration of "Build An App Day" at OCC, we divide all the work into five milestones, as shown in the figure below.
These milestones and activities are guidelines. They worked for OCC, but feel free to add or remove activities and milestones based on your specific organization.
Setup & Kickoff (8:00 AM ñ 9:00 AM): Book a meeting room for an entire day. Try to have the meeting room ready at least one day prior to implementation. But, if that is not possible, dedicate the first 30-45 minutes of the day to set up. Use the next 15 minutes to do a quick kickoff meeting. During the kickoff go over the schedule, team roles, and any housekeeping items.
It's also extremely important to identify the person who will act as the Decider (in Scrum this is also known as the Product Owner), and the Facilitator (who will coordinate all the activities throughout the day, and make sure everything is on track).
Design Sprint (9:00 AM ñ 10:00 AM): Use the first hour of the day to define the goal of automation, and user stories for the first sprint. Be sure to answer the following two questions before doing anything else.
After answering these two questions, focus on mapping high-level process that will be defined in the tool. Then, mockup the first step. This will allow developers and testers to start their work, while the rest of the team focuses on capturing and elaborating other requirements.
Development Sprints (10:00 AM ñ 4:00 PM): The next six hours can be considered development sprints. Your team can decide if they want to do one-hour sprints, one long sprint or some other combination. For our first iteration, we tried one-hour sprints. But that did not work out, so we switched to a two-hour sprint.
During this time, team members will continue working on their specific tasks.
The facilitator's job is to keep things moving and prevent scope creep. In other words, make sure that everyone operates within the defined scope. Best case scenario? You will have a working, production-ready MVP. Worst case? You will have built parts of the application, and captured stories in the backlog for a future date.
One more thing. Make sure you work in a sequence. That way, even if you run out of time, you will have enough to use in production.
Review Sprint: For the final hour of the day, schedule a demo with the extended team. Also, invite some external/prospective teams for the review. This will help everyone to visualize how those simple whiteboard mockups transformed into a working application in less than a day.
On top of that, this is a great way to promote the initiative as well.
Release: Once you are done with the implementation day, you might still have activities to do before the application can move to production. These activities will vary from one organization to another. At OCC, we need to go through security and compliance reviews and a formal change management process before migrating the application to production.
For our first iteration, we decided to automate our internal Effort Management process. The goal of the process is to intake, evaluate, score, size and prioritize project ideas submitted to our Digital Automation team.
Once a project idea has been prioritized, we capture analysis and implementation information. This is a linear seven-step process that involves multiple teams.
We only had two developers for the first "Build An App Day", so we limited our scope to the first five steps of the process, from intake to prioritization.
We also limited the number of process participants to two teams, and assumed inputs from other teams as swivel chair activities. By the end of the day, we had successfully implemented a fully functional five-step process, with a record list, detailed record page, user stories in the backlog for analysis and implementation steps and all the test cases.
After the implementation day, we did code reviews. We tested the application, did security reviews, and went through the change management process before migrating the app to production.
Picking our internal process allowed us to skip marketing and evaluation milestones, resolve all issues that came up, and learn lessons from mistakes. It also helped us to refine the idea and create solid marketing material as well.
If you want to learn more about starting your own "Build an App Day" program, reach out to us at the upcoming Appian World 2018in Miami, Florida, April 23-25 2018.
And if you want to learn more about OCC's digital transformation, read our story on Forbes.
Process Automation Lead, OCC
©2018 The Options Clearing Corporation. All rights reserved.
Appian helps organizations build apps and workflows rapidly, with a low-code automation platform. Combining people, technologies, and data in a single workflow, Appian can help companies maximize their resources and improve business results. Many of the world’s largest organizations use Appian applications to improve customer experience, achieve operational excellence, and simplify global risk management and compliance.