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The Role Of Operations In Agile / Current Trends And Challenges

All operations departments in the banks’ society face similar challenges. They have gone through functions centralisation, major automations, lean process redesign, local automations, re-engineering, RPA implementation and now we are on the edge where we have to choose our future path. The choice is more or less binary: shall we pass our remaining functions to IT support, when most of the processes will be automated or shall we change the operational function completely? Operation team in Sberbank has its own view on this dilemma — we should take on the new roles. As of now we see two major opportunities and we are working towards their achievement.

The first role is Operational Product Owner (PO), as we called it. Traditionally, banking operations’ teams are excluded from Agile practices in the organisations. However, we faced the product-driven demands for such roles in operations, especially in the business units, who are actively working in Agile structures. The role in Agile that we are talking about as the “most wanted” — is a role of a single point coordinator integrated in the operations teams. Commonly operations’ team is process-oriented and concentrated on settlement, payments, accounting, controls, custody, etc. At the same time operational coordinator — PO, who is also a member of one of those teams, combines knowledge from the mentioned operational areas by single product group and simultaneously can be process and product-oriented. Operational PO knows the nature of the operations in specific product, is experienced in the market requirements, he can work together with the business product owner on the tasks implying product implementation, amendments, redesign — everything that is often called “change”. After nomination of such roles in the operations’ team we managed to speed up the products set-up, simplify the communication and new products implementation process by greatly reducing number of participants as well as straight-forwarding the whole change process.

The second role is Operational Data Engineer. Currently, there are tremendous amounts of data accumulated in operations. We feel that our sophisticated knowledge of product settlement, payments, accounting and reporting practices shall be combined with data science in order to extract value from these “golden” data assets. In order to achieve this goal, we need at least two things in place: appropriate staff and instruments. While plans of achieving of the first component are rather simple — we are modifying recruitment requirements and developing special learning or “rebooting” programs, the second component demands special steps to be taken. We are going towards creating special instruments that operations employees own and develop themselves.

This is just a brief introduction of two roles in the operations area. The whole challenge of redefining operations role is still to be achieved. Nowadays banking services and products are changing rapidly. Probably we will find alternative or absolutely different roles and solutions. Let us discuss this together!

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