Operating a pension scheme can be very complex and involve many people, multiple systems & interfaces to implement complex legislation and scheme design. None of these remain constant for very long and can easily cause an operation to become inefficient and expensive to run.
With the Department of Work and Pensions making changes to the automatic enrolment regulations on 1 April 2015, most companies are going to have to make big changes to the software systems they have already developed. Many smaller companies may not have yet developed a system at all.
How can companies make this transition successfully and on time without trying to change the whole system in a single day? The so called ‘big bang’ implementation is doomed to fail in almost every situation, so why not use an Agile approach? Using Agile is a much more modern way of coming up with solutions for customers and for the business to work in a more efficient manner.
Implementing Agile isn’t always easy, however, the freedom Agile gives to change is very important. Agile delivery teams will develop a project in an iterative and incremental way. In each short phase a delivery team will build part of the system and test it. The delivery team gives priority to areas of high impact or value to the organisation to reduce the risk that it fails to deliver a usable system.
At the end of each iteration there is a working product of a quality that the business could deploy and that users can definitely try. User feedback helps the delivery team to improve the functionality in the next and subsequent iterations, identify what more needs to be added to the system and the order of priority and by responding to change. A delivery team can accommodate valid changes to requirements because the system is built up incrementally.
Due to the frequency of new increments that are produced, new changes can be implemented at very little cost. Unlike the more traditional (waterfall) models, the Agile model requires very little planning to get started with the project.
With many pension providers struggling with the avalanche of schemes that will need to be set up between July 2015 and April 2017, many of whom have already shut up shop in terms of accepting new business, it is imperative that companies start thinking about how they are going to implement these changes into their own business structure. The Department for Work and Pensions have already lead responsibility for the implementation of Agile delivery and will be ensuring its departments use Agile delivery methods on its projects.
The good thing about being Agile is that it can be used and implemented across the business and not just within software development teams/projects. Administration teams can also use Agile methodologies such as Kanban to collaborate and work together more effectively.
So not only will your software development team gain from working in an Agile way to create the systems required internally & externally, on time and on budget, but if other departments can understand and work using the Agile methodologies it will create an even stronger working relationship between teams within your organisation.
The DWP regulation changes aim to reduce the administrative load with regards to assessments and issuing worker information especially for small and micro employers. With an Agile mindset any company, big or small, can implement these changes effectively and efficiently by working together as a team.
The Agile Manifesto reminds us of the values we learn by working this way:
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan
That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.
What is your experience with implementing the pension scheme into your company? If you’ve already started implementing it, what challenges did you face? Get in touch with us and share your thoughts.