J.P. Morgan adopts Agile in Australia

Liz Tay | Apr 16, 2012 7:17 AM
Imports tools from global team.

J.P. Morgan’s Australian securities services division is banking on the Agile software development method to more quickly deliver systems and applications to clients.

Late last year, the division began importing Agile coaches and software development tools from J.P. Morgan’s international offices as part of a global, staged roll-out that began four years ago.

According to Paul Gladigau, J.P. Morgan’s managing director of Worldwide Securities Services (WSS) Technology in Australia and New Zealand, the division’s 100 technologists have embraced the move.

Because traditional “waterfall” software development saw workloads passed sequentially through analysis, design, development and testing phases, teams could be slow to adapt to any changes in client demands, he explained.

Instead, J.P. Morgan developers have approached a new $30 million body of work in self-organising, Agile “Scrum teams” that deliver iteratively and respond quickly to changing requirements.

“Waterfall locks in resources for months at a time,” Gladigau said, noting that that was no longer a viable software delivery model with today’s dynamic market and regulatory environment.

“We’ve been restructuring our delivery processes to focus on an Agile approach. It’s an organisational shift ... the team responded really well with a surprisingly high level of enthusiasm.”

Gladigau credited Scrum teams from Sydney and Dallas for the WSS division’s client asset performance reporting application, launched this month in response to demand from superannuation funds.

The teams used an enterprise-wide “toolset” that included Hudson Continuous Integration, Atlassian’s Greenhopper for JIRA for project management, and HP’s QuickTest Professional for assurance.

Gladigau said the toolset was established by J.P. Morgan’s Scottish Asset Management division four years ago and adopted by its US WSS division in 2010.

Business units aimed to “lift-and-shift” the toolset to facilitate global collaboration, he said, noting that multi-year, staged rollout was appropriate for an organisation with some 260,000 staff in six divisions and 60 countries.

J.P. Morgan’s WSS division holds more than $400 billion of financial assets for 100 superannuation and investment funds in Australia, including AustralianSuper, First Super, Vanguard and Schroders.

Gladigau said WSS Technology had three Agile coaches in Australia and New Zealand and ongoing training programs for staff.

In December, he also recruited an organisational change manager who had previously worked as “scrum master of scrum masters” in the Australian finance sector, to promote a “culture of continual change”.

Agile software development has gained traction in Australia in recent years, with organisations such as NAB, NBN Co, Telstra and Allianz Australia backing what has been described as a cultural change.

Suncorp’s chief information officer Jeff Smith has been a vocal proponent of Agile since the insurer adopted the iterative delivery method about four years ago.

Before going Agile, Smith recalled spending “six months to analyse a project to avoid rework”.

He said the team now delivered iterations every week and new technology at “pretty much the pace of what [the business] can absorb anyhow, and in many cases, ahead of it”.