The 80/80 Project: The MVP Reimagined for Business Banking

The Minimum Viable Product is a core component of any agile organization. And while ATB’s Transformation team follows agile methodologies, we know that a traditional early stage MVP is not necessarily the best vehicle for us to unveil new platforms to our customers - or even subsections of them. Because at the end of the day - no matter how important advancing technology and launching new solution is to us - our customers still need to do their banking. It is as simple as that. So in order to launch new products and move the needle, we’ve prescribed to the 80/80 rule as we work on building our new Business Banking Platform. 

The 80/80 rule means that we have created a product that has 80% of our everyday banking features, designed for 80% of our users – in this case, our business banking customers. 

As we build our new business banking platform, we want to be able to test and release new software, but we also know that our customers will never use an MVP that has minimal features or won’t let them do what they need to do. Business banking is not something you can just incentivize users to test new software for outside of their busy everyday lives. So, creating a new platform that will be a more robust and future-forward banking system means that each new release needs to be easy and efficient (80/80!). And the feedback mechanism can’t be onerous. So, how could we build software that they will be willing to test?

Selecting a test group:
The 80/80 business banking platform was launched in fall 2018. At the time, we identified the user group that we wanted to be testing the platform: entrepreneurs with a small number of users on their business banking account - who may have fewer and less complex banking products at ATB. This user group would be able to use the platform and give us direct feedback for how it was working for them, as they did their basic banking. This meant making sure that the 80/80 platform allowed them to do things like pay their bills, e-transfers, and check their business accounts. Part of the initial challenge was to identify this cross-section of current customers who could become beta users.

Testing, Validation, and Interating - Being Agile with the 80/80 Rule:
The first phase of the 80/80 project was heavily focused on building the technology stack for the platform. Legacy banking technology takes longer to deploy updates and releases - and we don’t want to be bogged down by archaic backbones moving forward. Hence, we took the time to build agility into our platform, even when it has caused us to migrate from one cloud to another early in development. This new business banking platform can now allow for frequent deployments, as often as a few times per week, if needed. We can be more agile, more responsive to user feedback as a result.

The first implementation of the business banking platform had to have significant scale and complexity compared to a traditional MVP. Banking for business is unique to each entrepreneur, so our team had to try to attack the small but important features for our user group in waves. 
Our development team set up a cadence of two-week sprints and established open communications across our organization - from our product team, to our customer care team - in order to be able to gather feedback and validate concerns so we can prioritize and focus with each sprint.

For the 80/80 business banking platform to be successful we need to ensure that we are evaluating and validating the feedback that we receive from beta users. As a customer-obsessed organization, we have team members with a variety of expertise who can shed light on any issues that are flagged on the platform. Our development team can then work with the product team and the business banking team to determine whether certain issues are common enough to be moved to the top of the priority list, or whether another piece of feedback that came from a highly specialized use case should be prioritized or if it’s just something that we need to pursue further by communicating with the beta user. 

In an early iteration of the platform for example, many of our users indicated that we needed to add the ability to add transaction details. After consulting with our business banking team, we realized that it was a vital capability because business clients needed to add detail to each transaction for auditing purposes, so we used that feedback to enhance the platform it within a short period of time.

Test Groups - Starting small, and building up:
User engagement for beta testing for the 80/80 project also came in waves. In wave 0, we had a small pool of initial users: customers our project team members had direct contact with who they thought might be interested in testing the platform, and they had a direct feedback line with our Director of Business Banking Experience, James Klassen. 

In waves 1 through 3, as we increased invites to our user group by contacting customers who fit our identified user group attributes. Now, in wave 4, we have begun to implement a higher-touch opt-in model to recruit new beta testers. After contacting customers who fit our initial user group requirements, we have given them the ability to opt-in for updates so that they can decide if and when they would like to become beta testers of the platform, and at what point in development they would like to do so. This has been successful so far, leading to higher clickthrough rates, users, and response rates, which ultimately results in an already engaged user group.

And as the test group grows, we evolved our feedback and reporting process along with it, which will help determine direction for our two-week sprints and subsequent releases. 

We’ve now sent out 10,000 invites for beta testing, working towards broadening the range of customers in our user base. We are also communicating across the organization to increase the size of our user group, features, and drive the growth of the platform.
The road to going “live”: 
The next phase will be focusing on feature development. We are migrating onto a new platform, and in the next release we will add new features that should allow our beta users to begin using the 80/80 version of the platform for their primary banking, instead of the outgoing system. 

By starting the process with the 80/80 rule in place, we believe that the development and improvement of the new business banking platform has been able to advance more quickly because each new release meant an MVP that could meet the customer’s expectations of features and function - while also ensuring our ability to add, pivot, and scale quickly were built in from the start. This speed and efficiency also means customers can complete their tasks in a light-touch and quick manner. Success, to us, is enabling customers to spend less time on their banking, and more time on their business.

Having a more robust version of the platform empowers our team members to spend more time working with our clients on their business goals, instead of assisting them with our technology. We also want to build the platform with the future in mind, so integration with other business software (like accounting or bookkeeping) can be done easily. 

Our goal is to have a full implementation of the new business banking platform by the end of the summer in 2020.  By starting the project with an 80/80 version of the platform, we feel confident that this timeline is realistic and attainable. 

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