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Rapid completion of Agile transition and exemplar projects

International Financial Data Services: Scaling Agile at pace

To support a rapid transition to Agile, we designed and led an incremental transformation programme, building on the value and understanding derived from successive increments. Value was delivered early and throughout, resulting in the swift establishment of a sustainable Agile capability at IFDS.


International Financial Data Services (IFDS) is the UK's leading supplier of investor record-keeping services and systems to the UK domestic and European offshore market. Its solutions are used by retail and institutional fund managers, fund distributors and platforms, investment trust companies and providers of group and individual Defined Contribution pensions, including Jupiter, Charles Schwab and CoFunds.

The challenge

As an organisation reliant on mission critical technology, IFDS made the decision to introduce an Agile approach for their software development process. Its aim was to increase responsiveness to customers’ needs, shorten cycle times, and improve quality.

Our approach

A successful transition cannot be defined analytically and imposed. To arrive at a practical and balanced Agile implementation, collaboration and feedback is required. Therefore, in common with all of its work, IndigoBlue adopted an incremental, Agile approach to the transition project. Our approach builds on the value and understanding derived from successive increments, allowing stakeholders to evaluate the benefits and constraints within the particular organisational context; introducing change where necessary, prioritising effort and focusing on tangible benefits.

Having already completed one Scrum-based Agile project, IFDS had an understanding of Agile and an expectation of how it would be applied within the organisation. We were able to build on this. Prior to the main transition, IndigoBlue completed a short time-boxed phase, in which support was provided for the start-up and initial iterations of two Agile projects. These were used to establish a common understanding and baseline for the main transition.

Additionally, the consolidation phase was used to understand the prevailing context within IFDS and create roadmap for the transition phase.

The Transition itself was managed as an incremental Agile project following the roadmap. Each increment was timeboxed to two weeks and activities were prioritised to maximise business value from the iteration.

This was achieved through a stakeholder board and the following governance measures:

  • Definition of new governance requirements to provide greater Agility within the existing process
  • Support for the Programme Office in the implementation of the new requirements
  • Project support for adherence to process changes
  • Definition of role changes and supporting training
  • Definition of new testing approach (including automation)
  • Implementation of testing technology stack including legacy Cobol systems
  • Training and support for offshore development team in Bangkok

Throughout the transition, the aim was to achieve a sustainable level of Agile capability within IFDS in the shortest possible period. This was achieved by providing a basic level of immersion training and experience across the IT division, but focusing support, mentoring and training on a number of key individuals who would then be capable of carrying the remainder of the transition forward.

The outcomes

On time and to budget, IndigoBlue completed its work on the transition project leaving IFDS with a self-sustainable level of Agile experience. Within the transition period a number of key projects were completed successfully and cycle times were reduced.

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