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Optimizing your Digital Execution Engine – A Guide for Banks

Updated: Dec 27, 2022

By Bradley Clerkin


Most banks have defined critical digital business targets and worry their digital engineering engine doesn’t have the right capabilities to execute.


We designed a Digital Readiness Workbook to help business and IT leaders quickly answer whether they will be digitally effective. The workbook is based on BreakFree Solutions’ experience working with 100s of clients on what Digital Readiness means and extending IT’s legacy services delivery, cost and asset management-focused operating model into enabling digital product delivery. It takes about 23 minutes or less to do the workbook. The indicators distill down actions required to optimize your digital execution engine.


Are you digitally ready?

The Digital Readiness Workbook looks at what it means to manage product execution and build digital-native, resilient and secure products on a high-performing, efficient cloud infrastructure that delivers access to new technology, new markets and ultimately, new revenues/profits with velocity and to scale.

Each section of the Digital Readiness Workbook outlines a best practice approach for business and IT leaders to evaluate readiness in seven foundational areas. The results pinpoint further investment areas as prioritized by business and IT:

Seven foundations defined:


The Digital Readiness Workbook and scorecard are tools BreakFree designed to help you understand what seamless digital product execution looks like. Building and maturing IT, technology, talent and other operations for digital effectiveness is a journey. We recommend doing the workbook and drilling down to specific areas where you scored the lowest.

Digital Product Enablement - To best meet the needs of financial institutions' digital strategy, IT organizations must expand their operating model to enable the ideation, creation, launching and scaling of digital product. This expansion of the operating model lifts IT from order taker into a partner mode in executing digital strategy. We boiled down to the simplest terms what a best practice approach is and whether transformational leadership is positioned effectively for IT to evolve its operating model for DevOps/Cloud/Agile product development.

Cloud Platforms & Enablement - Digital execution happens on the cloud as part of a DevOps/Cloud/Agile triad. How the cloud is operationalized and consumed in digital is drastically different from application/SaaS/Services infrastructure. Digital execution requires a platform approach that stitches together many cloud services, digital processes and highly automated management technology. The end goal is a cohesive tool that enables digital solutions to be engineered on the latest technologies at scale. The platforms are treated as products that evolve with corporate initiatives and business objectives. Mature platforms will flex to new business needs over one-size fits all while maintaining consistency, enabling velocity at scale and minimizing rework.

Agile Work Management - Agile Work Management encompasses a series of tools, processes and techniques to manage prioritization, delivery and value realization for products with high levels of change/iteration needed. It requires dedicated, cross-functional teams that are working on contained scope that they can control end to end. Because of this, we see best practice companies applying investment for Agile with the most strategic digital products to start. To achieve discipline and consistency at scale, there are investments in tools to support on-demand transparency, collaboration and onboarding/continuous learning systems to ensure new staff and old skills are refreshed.

Digital Security - Digitally enabled security means security and compliance do not depend on specialized resources and a security governance review meetings, manual documentation and long cycle times for approvals to attest that requirements have been followed. Security by design is a given, and testing is automatable so that compliance pass/no pass is instantly available and/or actionable by a development team in a sprint. Security experts focus on strategies that enable federated mechanisms to streamline adherence, documentation and remediation rather than inspection.

DevOps - Digital requires IT to manage technology for profit centers. Most IT organizations are built to manage technology for cost centers through ITIL/ITSM. DevOps enables effective technology management that prioritizes velocity and agility.

Digital Capable Talent - Digital capable talent is not an endpoint. It is a system that looks ahead — sourcing, and onboarding to continuously source and build skills that are aligned with future digital business needs and outcomes. It means ensuring work management, rewards and management practices align with a more self-service, autonomous Agile practice. Digitally effective talent organizations balance between digital product/cloud-native engineers and core ERP or SaaS service-oriented resources. It isn’t all or nothing. HR is a key partner in developing programs that support apprenticeship/applied models and/or coach/doer partnerships.

Engineering - Digital product engineering organizations have demonstrated experience in launching cloud-native products. They start to look more like technology companies rather than traditional financial services providers. There is a breakdown for more future-looking roles like technology architects and delivery-focused engineering. Digital engineering organizations have adopted long-standing technology company practices for non-managerial technology career paths.

Next steps

Gut-checking your organization’s operating health relative to these digital foundations is the start. We provide you a view of best practice by foundation area to support discussions with your peers on where to focus and what next.

We recommend taking an enabling view. An all-or-nothing approach over complexifies the journey. Start small with a product or products. Make decisions most likely to drive successful impacts, incubate and iterate. Use the scorecard resources provided to facilitate discussions and iteration on what best looks like for your business.

Why is this free

We really are giving the workbook and resources away for free. The most important decision in building for digitally ready operations is taking action. We don’t want you to be stuck in months of discovery, decision alignment and approvals. We want you to invest in doing, iterating and growing digital channels and products.

Want to whiteboard options? 

Sometimes you want additional support in defining focus. We are happy to help. Schedule a whiteboarding session with our CTO, Bradley Clerkin. Give us an hour, we can help you define actions or talk to you about how to drive change.

More about BreakFree Solutions:

We started BreakFree Solutions in 2015 to help financial institutions, health care and pharmaceuticals build digital product and mature effective and sustainable engineering engines (DevOps/Cloud/Agile). Many companies are set up to advise you on what to do. Our model is different. We partner and build alongside of you with the intention of executing AND building your internal skills. We call this the coach/doer model. We believe we have one of the best digital execution firms. Test us. Let’s talk about where we can partner with you to take on the most difficult cloud and digital engineering challenges.



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