Good with Pixels

Craft, compassion and care. According to BNZ’s Head of Digital Stephen Bowe, it’s these characteristics that are at the heart of everything his team creates.

On the eve of Webstock 2015 we talked to BNZ’s digital team about the work they do and how they do it.

You engage regularly with customers for feedback through usability sessions, experiments in production and learning through analytics about which options work best. Has opening your ears to customer suggestions changed how you work?

“It is both humbling and immensely satisfying to put your work in front of someone who is actually using it and realise that there are parts that we sweated over for ages that very few people even notice, and there are other parts that are actually helping people manage their finances better and having a positive impact on their day to day money management” – Luke Brown, Agile Business Lead

“Traditionally digital banking has a one size fits all approach. But when you start actively listening to customers, you remember how different each person is. The solutions and experiences you create should demonstrate an appreciation for that individual’s specific circumstances and preferences and give them tools that enable them to manage their money in a way that’s appropriate for their situation” – Stephen Bowe, Head of Digital

You use Agile as a delivery methodology, but more and more beyond the software delivery agile is a different way of thinking about product management and development. What has been the most transformative thing that has come about as a result of that transition?

“It’s all about building the right thing the right way. The more we listen to our customers and inspire innovation and curiosity in our teams then the more likely we are to build the right thing. And our philosophy of continuous improvement with an ethos of leadership and ownership empowers the teams to improve their practices. The proof is that people like to work here.” – Tracey Quirke, Agile Coach/Tech Coach

“Agile has liberated us from over-formal and over-governed processes. This doesn’t mean a lack of discipline, but we value conversations and intuition over wasteful and laborious requirements and analysis cycles. We have learned we don’t know everything from the start of a project and that to be successful we need to be able to change and adapt as we get into the detail and test our ideas with our customers. We create solutions more than we create documentation.” – Nick Fantham, Online Service Manager – Mobile & Emerging Technology

Your team has committed to having an in-house UX and Design function, a change from the old model of outsourcing this to design agencies. Have you seen benefits from this change?

“At BNZ Digital we made a conscious decision to bring all of our Design and UX work inside the bank. In the past we used external agencies to deliver these functions but we’ve made a commitment to build this capability inside our organisation and embed it into our digital team. There are great advantages to having our designers working alongside our agile development teams. Not only have we raised the bar in terms of great design and UX work but we can ensure a greater consistency across all of our digital experiences so that our customers have a more seamless experience.” – Donal Devlin, Digital Media & Design Manager

“I think this is massive. Our focus on the customer experience is the main thing in my opinion that makes our product stand out from the rest and this wouldn’t have been possible if we were dealing with an external agency. To have design in-house and working alongside the team means we can have a lot more back and forth among the dev team and the designers and the design has a much higher chance of delivering on the business vision. To work with an external design agency would slow us down considerably and remove us from a lot of the important decisions, making it much harder to produce a well-designed product.” – Luke Brown, Agile Business Lead

“Design is not a side process that joins with the development of our product when it is ‘finished,’ it is an intimate part of the creative process from the first moment we start to the moment we deliver. Designers bring a different way of thinking about problems and have an eye for detail others tend to miss. By closely coupling design into our product development, we have been able to drive an overall great level of quality for our customers. Simpler, quicker, and more delightful. In-house and in-team UX design creates a tighter sense of ownership and passion than outsourced models. Our designers sweat with the rest of the team before, during and after the development and release of the feature.” – Nick Fantham, Online Service Manager – Mobile & Emerging Technology

There has been a growing emphasis on the importance of having the right customer insight on hand to inform your product development function. Has this in any way changed your day to day decision making?

“Having customer insight on hand allows you to make better decisions, be closer to the customer and what their actions, wants and needs are. Data is power and the more access you have to information the more informed decisions and priority calls can be made.” – Jenna Cock, Project Manager, Mobile & Internet Banking

“Analytics provides priceless information about our customers and how they use our software. Analytics are embedded in any piece of work we ship to production. The results of those analytics help us decide whether a feature is a success or a failure. They also help making decisions on future pieces of work by understanding how customers use the software” – Remi Roques, Senior Analyst Programmer

“This is right up there with design. So many business decisions in the past have been made on assumptions and guesses. We’ve made massive progress with things like analytics and experiments, and a lot more customer sessions but I think we have a lot further to go. Just recently we’ve started to set up real time customer dashboards that refresh each hour and allow us to get a heartbeat of the app and how customers are using it. It’s also much easier to dig down into the insights that we need to make good product management decisions. Previously we would have felt we had to build it because it existed in a previous version, now we can use analytics to see who, if anyone is using a particular piece of functionality and act accordingly. We are trying to build an app that is smart and provides a targeted experience based on each customer’s situation so having dynamic customer insights is a requirement of this.” – Luke Brown, Agile Business Lead

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