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Unlocking customer value through domain-driven digital transformation

Financial organizations can drive digital transformation by developing multidisciplinary teams to build and scale solutions.

In brief
  • Transformational platforms come to life via the product lifecycle: ideate, design and refine, build and execute, and test and deliver.
  • A human-centered methodology allows a transformational platform to define, enable and execute integrated digital delivery.
  • Having the right people engaged in the software development lifecycle will drive performance, expedite go-to-market timing and decrease overall cost to serve.

Financial institutions have made incredible strides in recent years, transforming their digital infrastructure with big-bet technology investments. As market pressure accelerates, they are still impacted by operational inefficiencies, manual processes and disjointed legacy systems and vendor ecosystems. Organizations have opportunities to scale existing products and solutions into larger-scale platforms — a group of tools, technologies and services that serve as a connection between users, businesses and data.

Building platforms to support digital transformation is an important investment for modern organizations — these platforms can lead to scalable and reusable services, market responsiveness, more value out of resources, reduced cost to serve, and consistent and high-value customer experience. Once organizations have identified their pain points and opportunities to evolve, they need more traction to cultivate these ideas into large-scale digital transformation.

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    Three key areas where organizations are losing momentum

    1. “How might we” statements struggle to get off the page in a vacuum and without cross-functional, experienced teams to chisel and refine to a solid idea. Organizations can set up working groups to ideate and design, but if they don’t have the right people in the room who have been on the ground delivering before, they won’t know what “good” looks like, what has and has not worked before, and what is going on in the industry. Without this insight, the ideas can be myopic and difficult — or impossible — to scale. 
    2. Once the foundation for the platform is laid, before organizations can hit the ground running with delivery, they must establish a team structure, a human-centered operating model, and a strong vision. For some firms, that means quickly hiring and aligning new people to the organization and mitigating the steep domain and technical learning curve. Some organizations already have teams assembled, but they are inexperienced in building platforms and collaborating in cross-functional delivery models, so they are not able to anticipate the breadth of hurdles and complex decisions that need to be made from the get-go. Some teams have the experience, but they don’t know how to assemble in the right way to collaborate efficiently because they are used to siloed, piecemeal organization models. 
    3. Lastly, since many firms have already invested in platforms over the last several years, scalability is often a top-of-mind question. Banks debate whether they need to go live in an iterative process or whether they need a mature solution for business-critical processes. There are often questions on what the competition and peers are doing, how quickly they should go to market with their solution, and how to optimize value while considering performance and resiliency factors. Even for organizations considering the maturity of their live solutions, they see opportunity for platform scaling and optimization but do not know how to achieve these goals. Answering these questions and decisioning on performance and scalability requires experience and a view of current market activity.

    Our approach to integrated digital delivery

    To effectively solve for these challenges to build transformational platforms, product leaders need to identify multidisciplinary teams of professionals who can collaborate with their technical skills and business domain expertise to build and scale solutions. 

    The product lifecycle framework is used to build these transformational platforms, and it is defined through key phases: ideate, design and refine, build and execute, and test and deliver. Across this lifecycle, it is crucial for product leaders to have adaptable, diversified teams that bring technical and business domain expertise to the table at the right moments. As a technology delivery provider, the EY organization has seamlessly collaborated with enterprises and unlocked business value at varying stages of the delivery lifecycle to drive and scale digital transformation. Across the product lifecycle phases, organizations have created business value through a human-centered methodology to define, enable and execute integrated digital delivery. 

    An integrated approach to large-scale platform transformations

    The following examples illustrate successful approaches of bringing together cross-functional teams to create business value in each product lifecycle phase: 

    1. Ideate

    Ideation kicks off the product lifecycle when an organization identifies a problem or opportunity. Teams use this phase to determine and prioritize pain points and user needs and explore initial concepts for a product. This phase sets the stage for a well-defined and purposeful product development process. While ideation is typically driven by product and design teams, as the business case is developed and initial concepts and key findings are circulated, it is vital to bring in technical and architecture teams to provide insights and generate ideas into which catalog of technologies could best address the use cases. Bringing in architecture and technical teams aligns everyone with the product vision and goals, and experienced technical resources check that concepts make sense.

    Collaboration in this phase can look like product and design teams conducting user interviews and brainstorming sessions, product teams sharing market research with technology teams and asking questions about the current technology landscape, and product teams capturing technical inputs from the architecture teams to enable the design team to generate prototypes. By brainstorming with tech, product and design voices in the room, the solution can be molded into a reasonable concept for a fluid handoff to design teams and architects to run with. Major technical constraints and design considerations have already been circulated before the team starts on the proof of concept, system architecture and data models.

    2. Design and refine

    During the design and refine phase, designers, architects and product managers take information gathered during ideation (i.e., initial ideas, requirements, and current state pain points and user journeys) through design thinking workshops and interviews with the target user group. The team will guide stakeholders and end users through workshops to identify the key experiences they are looking for in the target state solution. Using prioritized pain points, requirements and features, product managers and designers will outline the target state proof of concept, including wireframes, mockups, personas and target future state journeys. At the same time, architects will start drafting technical design documentation, including systems and component architecture diagrams, API specifications, data models, and schemas. 

    There are many open-forum design discussions where product managers will consolidate technical and UX designs so the team can blueprint cohesive information architecture hierarchies, interaction models and design specifications while documenting requirements that need to be finalized before build. The design process is iterative, and eventually the team will collectively get to a detailed design with a clickable prototype and proof-of-concept data models, and the PMs and designers can start reviewing and conducting usability tests with users. This process is refined until stakeholders agree that the prototype is in line with business goals and user expectations.

    3. Build and execute

    Once the team is ready to start building and executing for the minimum viable product, all the hard work of gathering information and generating a great idea is ready for development, testing and release. The cross-functional team will operate and deliver using planning, development and testing sprints. Each development sprint aims to complete the stories selected during planning in accordance with the acceptance criteria, achieving an agreed-upon definition of ready and done. Product managers will collect use cases and business scenarios to provide the full scope of activities to the technology and design teams. They will also conduct daily standups and Agile ceremonies with the tech teams to iteratively manage the backlog and refine user stories and acceptance criteria based on their intake of the requirements. DevOps can automate pipelines to drive streamlined and efficient development processes across the development and quality assurance (QA) teams. 

    In this stage, the design team will have continuous wireframe and UX updates based on refined user stories and updated technology designs. It’s critical that product managers, designers and architects document design decisions and capture requirements to be shared with all impacted stakeholder groups; product managers log detailed acceptance criteria to support the tech teams; developers create README files and inline comments to support review of code; and testers document their test cases and test results. There are a lot of moving parts and busy team members involved in the build phase. To streamline delivery; maintain cohesion; and avoid missing dependencies, deadlines or requirements due to communication breakdowns, stakeholders must be regularly engaged and team members need to collaborate through Agile ceremonies, provide thorough documentation and use modern delivery tools.

    Steps in building an effective solution

    Click on different sections for more details.

    4. Test and deliver


    The test lead should design a release plan and a framework and strategy for all phases of testing to be compatible with business requirements and deadlines from the product team and any technical constraints from the tech leads. These frameworks should be circulated with stakeholders and team members before Agile cadences begin, and they should be updated and revised frequently. Testing is embedded in each sprint cadence to validate user stories and acceptance criteria, which means QA team members are in regular communication with the developers and product managers via the daily Agile ceremonies and refinement sessions. The testing team should work closely with the product managers to understand the definition of done when it comes to the acceptance criteria for each user story, and the team should upload its test cases and test results in the Agile board for proof of completion and for client or stakeholder reporting. Nonfunctional testing, including disaster recovery, performance, and monitoring and reporting, is managed by the testing team and DevOps to validate test cases and results. 


    There will also be dedicated cycles for system integration testing and user acceptance testing (UAT), during which the product managers will prioritize defects and analyze the testing results and the user feedback to ensure the product meets the requirements and solves for the pain points identified during the ideate phase. Ahead of the release, product managers finalize the release plan with DevOps, tech leads and developers and schedule a go/no-go decision with business stakeholders. In this discussion, product managers review test results and the release plan to make sure the product has met the objectives and is ready for release. In the test and deliver phase, team members must be flexible as issues arise, timelines and market needs may shift, and stakeholders engage more. Because there will be increased pressure to meet the release deadlines, team members must be efficient with planning and communication and maintain balance across various priorities.


    Technology-supported solutions address both customer and internal business goals. Building technology with the right collaborators at each phase of the software development lifecycle will result in improved customer experience and platform performance, expedite go-to-market timing, decrease overall cost to serve per platform/customer, and enhance data accuracy that can be leveraged for reporting and insights. Innovative platforms built by cross-functional teams have the power to provide meaningful business value and set organizations on a path to sustainable growth and revenue for the future.


    While financial institutions have initiated many technological investments in recent years, digital transformations with multidisciplinary teams are key to scaling current platforms and developing new solutions that reduce operational inefficiencies and manual processes.

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