Fidelity Investments’ Evolution To Product-Focused Software Delivery

Darrell Fernandes, SVP of advisory solutions technology at Fidelity Investments, finished up the morning at Forrester’s BP&AD Forum with a discussion of their IT transformation: how they changed their software delivery process to become more like a software product company. They created “fences” around their projects in terms of centers of excellence and project management offices, with the idea that this would drive excellence on their projects; what they found is that the communication overhead started to bog them down, and that the silos of technology expertise became obsolete as technologies became more integrated. This is a really interesting counterpoint to Medco’s experience, where they leveraged the centers of excellence to create a more agile enterprise.

For Fidelity, the answer was to structure their software delivery to look more like that of a software product company, rather than focusing specifically on projects. They looked at and introduced best practices not just from other organizations like themselves, but also from software companies such as Microsoft. Taking a broader product portfolio view, they were able to look for synergies across projects and products, as well as take a longer-term, more disciplined view of the product portfolio development. A product vision maps to the product roadmap, then to the release plans, then ties into the project high-level plans. They’ve created an IT product maturity model, moving through initiation, emerging, defined, managed and optimizing; Fernandes admitted that they don’t have any in the optimizing category, but told about how they’ve moved up the maturity scale significantly in the past few years. They also started as an IT-led initiative before coming around to a business focus, and he recommends involving the business from the start, since their biggest challenges came when they started the business engagement so far along in their process.

They’ve had some cultural shifts in moving to the concept of IT products, rather than IT providing services via projects to the business, and disengaged the project/product cycle from annual IT budgets. Also, they drove the view of business capabilities that span multiple IT products, rather than a siloed view of applications that tended to happen with a project and application-oriented view. Next up for them is to align the process owners and product owners; he didn’t have any answers yet about how to do that, since they’re just starting on the initiative. They’re a long way from being done, but are starting to shift from the mode of IT process transformation to that of it just being business as usual.

Interesting view of how to shift the paradigm for software development and delivery within large organizations.

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