Agile development is more than just tech talk

We know a week is a long time in politics, but it’s an even longer time in business – especially in the world of the SME, where market conditions and the responses required to manage them can change daily.

Increasingly what this means is that the software that SMEs use to run their business expenses, as well as meet their clients’ needs, are often not fit for purpose or cannot be adapted quickly enough to confront new challenges as they arise.

Now, software must evolve continuously, with developers able to build in changes quickly and incrementally. It is the most logical path to take and delivers the first of the 12 principles in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development: customer satisfaction by early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

It’s an approach that scares some people; they subscribe to the traditional approach of building rigidly to scope the model and then adjusting later. However, following the route of ‘shoot first, ask questions afterwards’ often results in technology being out of date before it is even developed.

It is also scary because it is such a dramatically different way of working, and therefore needs to be part of the ethos of the business, to force a change.

This is a key lesson for banks and issuers, particularly those looking to embrace the lucrative –and often undervalued– SME market. There is a big business opportunity in driving and protecting innovation so that banks and issuers can offer SMEs new services, and in doing so, provide a competitive advantage for both parties.

However, the challenge for banks and issuers is striking a balance between innovation and good governance, with compliance with industry standards such as PCI. The opportunity lies in what role they choose to play with SMEs – advisor or merely auditor.

An auditor effectively transfers the burden of compliance to the SME, and only signs off the end solution, whereas an advisor is able not only to recommend the right solution, but has the agile tools to help deliver it. While many providers are auditors, being seen as an advisor is what will ultimately differentiate the players in the market.

SMEs are crying out for better ways to manage their business, to get deeper insight into not just what has happened, but what will happen. With neo1, our ground-breaking new expense management solution, banks and issuers are able to offer SMEs the solutions they seek, with the ability to make continuous improvements based on market dynamics