FNB and Entelect: Skills Partnership for Business Value

FNB Business Banking serves nearly a million clients; these businesses are the lifeblood of communities and depend on our range of financial solutions. In addition to great products, our service sets us apart in the industry and is one of the reasons we have been voted Best Business Bank 5 years running. Whether a small coffee shop or large factory, our passionate service and support shows that we are a bank with a heart for entrepreneurs. Smaller businesses primarily use FNB’s award winning self-service digital banking platforms but more complex businesses also benefit from our regional relationship banking teams. We offer clients the best of both worlds; “digital when you want it, human when you need it”.

Four years ago we started a journey to digitise some of our assisted banking processes to further improve service for relationship banked clients. The aim was to reduce paper and internal hand-offs so that our business bankers could focus on building relationships with clients and maximising the human side of our value proposition to them. We wanted them to be able to open an account quicker, KYC a client on the spot and look up information efficiently; technology can solve these problems but we needed a partner that could bring on board the additional skills and advice that we needed. Most importantly we wanted to make sure that we were building a technology platform that could scale and adapt to ongoing business requirements.

Entelect is a software engineering company that has worked across the FirstRand group and were well positioned to assist. After a rigorous sourcing process they came on board in early 2015 and established a team of suitably skilled software developers. It was important for us to retain our innovative, owner-manager culture and throughout the engagement we were always satisfied with the quality and fit of consultants that were positioned for roles on the joint team under our management. Entelect also provided a number of software architecture reviews which provided quality assurance of front and back end standards as well as quality practices such as build automation, continuous integration and testing.

With a strong track record over 16 years and an overall complement of 400 software developers, Entelect also brought their experience of such projects to guide us on creating a supportive environment for the whole team. After a successful pilot to 50 users in late 2015 the joint team continued to scale up the platform until all 1200 business bankers were onboard within 18 months. Working within the bank’s standard release cycles, the combined team also made use of Agile principles to minimise time to value for features and fixes that combined requirements from the growing user base with priorities from executive management and ongoing architectural discipline.

Importantly, the entire Apollo team across all technical and business roles was also co-located to maximise collaboration. Working closely with the product owner, project manager and business analysts, the combined FNB-Entelect developers evolved into a reliable and high performing software development team. My own research of Agile in large organisations highlights the importance of the 5th Agile principle, ie that teams should be given “the environment they need and trusted to get the job done”. Self-organisation is often evidence of such a supportive environment and the Apollo IT team showed this in the charter they established as their own code of conduct. It includes principles such as “if you refactor let people know”, “demo regularly”, “always merge down for fixes” and my favourite, “learn from your mistakes – doing the same thing again is sad.”

Through this culture of continuous improvement, Apollo has saved millions of minutes for FNB business bankers and clients and is now a strategic capability being re-used elsewhere in the bank. Entelect’s resources have been a key success factor and our ongoing skills partnership helps take the journey forward.



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