How a DevOps approach underpins innovation at BPAY Group

- By Collaborative Media & Publishing
The uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic has stifled many businesses' ability to innovate. But for BPAY Group, software launches have increased despite working remotely for long stretches. A key reason is the collaborative culture enabled through a DevOps workflow.

“We have been highly productive during the lockdown," says Angela Donohoe, BPAY Group Chief Information Officer (CIO). "In fact, we've been more productive over the last 12 months than in the previous year,” she adds.

Around 80% of business leaders who work remotely say their teams are at least as productive when working remotely as they are when on site, according to research by Microsoft and BCG. However, only about 30% of remote managers said their company is innovating in areas such as products and services, customer experience, and operations.

Yet, BPAY Group has continued its innovation journey, most recently launching two new client APIs in April thanks to a structural shift in culture and product development reflected in an Agile/DevOps workflow.

The DevOps journey

Donohoe began her role as BPAY Group’s CIO more than four years ago as the organisation kicked off an ambitious innovation agenda under the transformational leadership of CEO John Banfield, to remain at the forefront of the transforming payments sector.

Software launches, which require the product, software engineering and infrastructure operations teams to work together, are central to its efforts. However, the groups had traditionally operated in silos.

“The IT function had been fragmented across different groups at the time I joined BPAY Group, and my initial focus was to create cohesion and drive greater business value,” Donohoe says. “We are a relatively lean and highly successful payments organisation. But ensuring our services remained reliable and secure while pushing the envelope on innovation was quite a challenge,” she adds.
Although almost half of BPAY Group’s workforce was in the IT division, collaboration within the team and with product teams was an issue. “I was brought in to shape new ways of working with each other and to help deliver on our innovation promises,” Donohoe says.

The solution was to embrace an agile DevOps methodology, which aims to integrate software development and IT operations teams.

“Our success with DevOps has required an agile culture, modern architecture, infrastructure automation and embedded security. A key move was to bring together skills from different teams into product-led ‘Tribes’ who were responsible for bringing new solutions to life. This change, together with our embrace of new technologies and automation, has helped to reduce the silos that had traditionally existed between technology groups and dramatically accelerate our release velocity,” says Donohoe.

These results have been largely driven by shared senior responsibility between product and IT for bringing software releases to fruition. This has not only enabled more diverse discussions and perspectives but has also enabled deeper product and technical knowledge across entire teams.

“Technology is a key enabler of our success,” Donohoe says. “It's really important that business leaders and technology leaders have a very strong presence in the decisions we make in any given project,” she adds.

BPAY Group has migrated away from legacy platforms, proprietary technology and ageing data centres to a new private cloud platform with Macquarie Cloud Services and more recently, public cloud services with Amazon Web Services. The company has also embraced automation across a range of operating functions, increasing efficiency, consistency and security across infrastructure platforms and developed software.

In the first year these changes were implemented, BPAY Group shifted from two software releases to 16. The following year that number jumped to 33. Now, despite the pandemic, BPAY Group has delivered more than 70 releases in the last financial year.

“We measure results and innovation strategically and operationally. We’re delighted that we’ve been able to really embed innovation in the DNA of the company, and we expect that of everyone who works at BPAY Group,” Donohoe says.

Taking the lessons learned back home

At the start of the pandemic, BPAY Group was able to seamlessly move into a working-from-home model. It’s people-first, collaborative, and empowering workplace culture coupled with the technology already in place were key to this.

“We had already equipped all staff with laptops and phones, and in addition we provided staff members with a payment to help them improve their home office situation so that they could be more comfortable,” Donohoe says.

Collaboration tools such as Zoom, Teams and Confluence, which were already in use prior to the pandemic, were key to enabling BPAY Group to stay connected while working from home.

“We have had no issues with service levels and we’ve delivered on an ambitious program across new products and enhancements, a range of challenging technology refresh projects, as well as rollout of new workplace technology services. Most important of all has been our people – their attitude and teamwork has been second to none,” says Donohoe.

This interconnectedness has resulted in the launch of two new APIs in April. These new innovations allow organisations using BPAY to send their payment transactions in near real-time and provide much faster updates of Biller details.

The APIs have since been integrated by several FinTechs, proving that BPAY Group’s ability to deliver payments solutions using DevOps practices can help enable innovation in the wider payments landscape.

Published by BPAY Pty Ltd (ABN 69 079 137 518) email: The BPAY Scheme is managed by BPAY Pty Limited.  When you use BPAY payment products, the BPAY Scheme is paid fees relating to processing costs and BPAY Scheme membership.  Contact your financial institution to see if it offers BPAY payment products and to get the Product Disclosure Statement.  Any financial product advice provided by BPAY Pty Limited in relation to BPAY payment products is general advice only and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.  Before acting on such advice, you should review the Product Disclosure.

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