Everyone working with development in a large organization is familiar with its challenges; painfully slow pace of development, massive projects and costs, outdated operating systems and the technology debt stemming from them, complex interdependencies and internal stakeholder groups divided in silos.  

At the same time, our operating environment is changing faster than ever before, and the customer expectations for our products and services are increasing every day. This means that we need to constantly reinvent ourselves. The question is – how can we really do this in practice? 

We interviewed Everyday Banking Tribe Lead Masa Peura from OP Financial Group about the topic. Last month, the recently launched loan product OP Tarkkaluotto received Celent Model Bank award, an annual international recognition for banking renewal projects utilizing technology in an exemplary manner.  

The secret of agile development – Innovation Partnerships

– OP Tarkkaluotto is a modern unsecured loan tailored for customer needs. With personal interest rate and automated online credit decision, it enables quick and flexible financing in unexpected situations or bigger purchases in your daily life”, says Peura. 

However, aside from the new product itself, the way the project was executed was unique. Whereas in traditional development, large development teams are often used or complete solutions purchased from external vendors, in the case of OP Tarkkaluotto the project was grounded in strong innovation partnership.  

– Our project team was a partnership between our unsecured consumer finance product team, OP Financial Group innovation unit OP Lab, and our external specialist in modern modular banking systems, Tuum. We strongly believe that the seamless collaboration of these three partners was the single most important enabler of our solution, Peura continues.  

Many choices made throughout the project have required bold decision-making. The objective of improved customer experience steered all decisions, which resulted in completely novel solutions and superior outcomes. 

– We intentionally kept the project team compact and agile, and in all our choices we asked ourselves what creates the most value for our customer. We made some bold decisions with regards to our partnership with a scaleup as well as product architecture, and we efficiently utilized the capabilities of OP Lab in rapid and customer-oriented development. Our team had the courage to question the prevailing status quo and conventional practices in development, and always ask what are the solutions that genuinely lead us toward the best possible outcome, Peura analyzes. 

Besides adding a modern loan product to the OP service offering, OP Tarkkaluotto project has also created a platform for developing new loan products in the future.  

– With our new platform we have been able to let go of old operating systems and digitalize the end-to-end loan process. The platform also enables meeting the demands of continuously tightening banking regulation. Thus we are also creating a foundation for future innovation, Peura summarizes. 

Banks strongly involved in development process 

In large companies, development work often takes place in silos, which blocks the flow of information across departments. In case of OP Tarkkaluotto project, the insights of customer service professionals from OP banks were actively sought throughout the process.  

– OP Tarkkaluotto is a product that our banks have been eagerly waiting for. They have been active contributors in the development process, giving our teams valuable feedback on how to improve the product further. This feedback took us back to our drawing boards on many occasions. The long pilot stage served as an excellent period for experimentation and learning from customer feedback. Now we can happily conclude that the result is a perfectly functioning product”, Peura praises. 

OP Tarkkaluotto has received a warm welcome by customers, and its growth has exceeded all expectations. The project team has also experienced a whole new level of meaning for their work.  

– This project was an excellent example of the power of collaboration and genuinely agile development. We strongly believe that through this project, we have learned a lot about how development should be in a futureproof organization. In this project, the teams reached an unforeseen level of commitment, as everyone felt a sense of doing something truly meaningful. It shows in the results of the project as a better customer and employee experience, Peura concludes.   

OP Financial Group, which has over two million owner-customers and over 13,000 employees, is Finland’s largest financial services group. OP Financial Group employs experts representing various fields, ranging from financial-sector specialists, hard-core developers and agile promoters of change all the way to customer service professionals. We foster our employees' personal growth and career development as specialists. With us, you will be able to build your expertise and develop your strengths in a variety of duties. Take a closer look at our vacancies.