The unsung heroes of agile finance 


The opposition between waterfall and agile is as old as time. The Agile methodology intended to give more flexibility and … agility to development projects, but many struggle with the short sprints. Epics combine flexibility with a somewhat larger and longer focus and therefore epic ownership is gaining popularity. But there are a few post-pandemic challenges Epic Delivery Owners (EDOs) need to consider.


In finance, epics represent large-scale solution development initiatives within a financial portfolio, be it to automate and optimize treasury processes like bank communication, payments, or cash flow monitoring; to migrate from legacy systems to digital transformation for cost savings, or to digitize financial and procurement processes through cloud. 

The Epic Delivery Owners who manage the successful delivery of these large-scale, complex projects have gained critical importance considering their transformative impact on organizations. Let’s explore the challenges EDOs are facing and the strategies they can employ to thrive in a hybrid work environment and in the ever-evolving financial landscape. 


The Role of EDOs in Agile Finance: balancing customer needs, compliance requirements and rapid delivery 

Whereas digital transformation allows EDOs to leverage emerging technologies and innovative solutions, creating value and competitive advantage, the highly regulated, complex, and competitive nature of the financial sector also presents challenges in balancing customer needs, compliance requirements and rapid delivery across all epics of the initiative - from ideation to deployment. 

It means ‘finance EDOs’ must carefully manage the trade-offs between speed, quality, cost-effectiveness and risk. They will involve numerous stakeholders, experts, and teams to develop the project plan, define the epics and their scope, translate strategic visions into actionable features and ultimately secure MVP approval (each epic requires a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) definition and Lean Portfolio Management (LPM) approval before implementation). All epics are orchestrated in a Portfolio Kanban. 

To ensure these epics are aligned with the portfolio's strategic goals, EDOs also collaborates with Agile Release Trains (ARTs) and Solution Trains. Some Epic Delivery Owners even provide support as the initiative progresses through the Continuous Delivery Pipeline towards on-demand releases.  

Increased collaboration to drive value and agility 

This navigation through the complexities of regulation, compliance and digital transformation requires collaboration across multiple teams and departments. Working closely with different stakeholders requires a strong skillset and experience: 

  • Strong leadership and communication skills: EDOs must be able to effectively communicate with stakeholders at all levels of the organization. 
  • Project management skills: EDOs must be able to develop and execute complex program, project & epic plans. 
  • Technical expertise: EDOs must have a strong understanding of the technical aspects of the programs, projects or epics they are delivering. 
  • Business acumen: EDOs must be able to understand the business impact of the programs, projects or epics they are delivering. 

Who is the EDO? 

While Epic Delivery Owners can originate from various enterprise areas, close collaboration across different portfolio groups is crucial. Typical Epic Owner profiles and their key collaboration points commonly are: 

  • Business Owners: Aligning epics with business goals and priorities. 
  • System/Solution Architects: Ensuring architectural soundness and compliance. 
  • Product/Solution Management: Defining features, capabilities, and user stories. 
  • Agile Teams: Delivering and iterating on epic components collaboratively. 
  • Suppliers: Integrating external solutions and expertise seamlessly. 

It is only by fostering these strong collaborations, that Epic Delivery Owners can navigate the complexities of the financial sector, craft a compelling vision, define sound economic priorities, and establish a unified set of features and functionalities.  

By bridging potential gaps in planning and execution, the EDO ensures technical soundness, defines user stories, delivers features iteratively, and integrates external solutions seamlessly.  


Thriving in a Hybrid Work Environment 

Fortunately or unfortunately, the current hybrid work models have redefined this collaboration. But EDOs can also thrive in the hybrid financial sector by leveraging new, cutting-edge technologies and innovative solutions; by communicating and collaborating with diverse stakeholders across locations and time zones, and by demonstrating agility to evolve with changing customer needs and compliance requirements in this complex and competitive environment. 

The hybrid work model requires EDOs to leverage cutting-edge technologies for communication, collaboration, and management projects and priorities. The SAFe framework allows organizations and EDOs to adapt epics to changing financial needs, and innovate with agile teams. If Epic Delivery Owners (EDOs) can tackle the aforementioned post-pandemic challenges, they will continue to play a crucial role in complex financial projects, delivering economic and social value.  

A credit for the unsung hero? 

By understanding the key responsibilities of EDOs, the challenges they face, and the strategies they can employ to succeed, organizations increase their chances to deliver successful projects with a transformative impact. Might it also change the EDO’s previous status of unsung hero of agile finance transformations?  

Contact us

Drop us a line or pay us a visit - always welcome for coffee. +32 2 315 50 10