Hardships in achieving awesome FinTech product

The Story of a Startup

This is John

John is the CEO and cofounder of RocketWealthPro, a FinTech company. He aims to help people achieve financial wellness. He’s sure that failure prevention is key, as only this aspect can make FinTech clients loyal.

John, CEO

John’s aware that winning crowds of customers doesn’t guarantee they won’t leave the very next day. Only reliance and predictable results make them loyal, and not a rush over third-rate features.

This is Bob

Bob is the CTO at RocketWealthPro. He values predictability and consistency foremost.

Bob, CTO

Like many other startups, RocketWealthPro’s product was initially developed by its founders. After raising investments, the company hired an offshore outsourcing company to help them scale. But instead of hitting the ground running, they faced an alarming mess and regular failures. About 25% of time was wasted on fixing bugs and explaining tasks to vendors.

This is Mike

Mike is the head of product and cofounder at RocketWealthPro. He agrees that safety is a must-have, but equally knows that the product can't exist solo. Integrations are required to drive more investment options and convenience.

Mike, Head of product

Mike sees a keen need for the addition of new features—the faster the better. Together with RocketWealthPro’s CEO and CTO, Mike works on inviting investments, enlarging the team, and ramping up growth.

Meanwhile, investors were demanding progress while the team tried hard to prevent rolling back and to keep steady.

How could they combine a quick development pace with predictability in their process and results?
How could they combine a quick development pace with predictability in their process and results?

Seeking a solution Bob, Mike, and John rejected proposals from other outsourcing companies as they were sure that the problems would be pretty much the same. Bob went to a FinTech event with an eye to finding a solution to the problem.

There, during a coffee break, he met Vasyl, CEO of a FinTech engineering company. They began talking and Vasyl told him about a media platform his team uses to investigate FinTech companies and publish their success stories. He asked whether Bob and his partners would be willing to discuss their company’s virtues and challenges, and the ways they seek to combat these challenges, for a new story.

Bob and Vasyl drink coffee

During the discussion, Vasyl brought up exactly the problems that RocketWealthPro is facing. It turned out that these are very common throughout all FinTech startups. He also pointed out that his company’s FinTech Engineering Approach addresses these pain issues while establishing a relentless development process.

The value of the approach was not lost on Bob and his partners, but they decided to implement FinTech engineering principles with their current team, rather than hiring Vasyl’s company. As a result they made some progress, but the developers lacked financial domain knowledge and thus misinterpreted tasks. Bob insisted on hiring some local folks and downsizing the outsourcing team.

CTO thinks about Fintech Engineering Approach

As one might expect, very few developers had been tailored to FinTech, as most of them had worked at bigger companies or requested oodles of cash. However, even hiring several in-house specialists with the necessary skills turned out to be not enough to solve the problem, as they couldn’t replace other team members.

The next time

Mike presented his company at a FinTech meetup, he ran across Vasyl once again. After the show, they went to chill out, had a drink, and agreed to join forces.

Bob and Vasyl meet again

They started a trial and soon proceeded to a full-scale project as the processes transformed:

1 Communication

When Bob explained tasks to vendors, he had to dive deep into financial concepts, explain what is important and what isn’t. Although he spent tremendous amounts of time on this, it was of course impossible to cover every piece of knowledge, especially for folks working remotely. As a result, vendors developed features exactly as described in the tickets, QA engineers did the same work, but after release end clients started to find unexpected behavior in terms of functionality. They raised tons of requests for support and rework time was huge.
Things improved when RocketWealthPro started collaborating with Vasyl’s company. The developers there constantly improve their financial domain knowledge and keep up with recent trends to see the bigger picture. They study the task quickly and settle down to work. Developers and QA engineers ask business-related questions during grooming and planning sessions. Thus, the product team is now able to prevent all possible fails by adding more details to the tickets.

2 Processes

Bob calculated how much time a planning meeting should take, but when he held the very first meeting he realized it would require twice as much time. Bob felt desperate; even if he skipped the smallest part of a task, it resulted in even more time and budgeting waste for rework. Many engineers seemed to have no motivation to educate themselves. Several workers left, so Bob had to search for replacements.
The advantage of having a dedicated FinTech team is that budget usage becomes predictable across the entire project. The dedicated offshore company took responsibility for searching and training specialists, and saved up to 50% of the budget during the first few months.

3 Time difference

The tasks for integrations that Bob and Mike committed to outsourcers were always late by one day. This was especially painful if tasks were misunderstood—it took at least one more day to fix the issue.
As the dedicated FinTech team is in Eastern Europe, the local and offshore teams have a time intersection and can work collectively and take part in meetings. They have QA engineers on their side too, and the features they show to Bob and Mike are already flawless. Before the start of the U.S. working day, the offshore team is able to prepare all questions and deliver planned results, so the U.S.-based team can process all questions and requests in bulk. Also, the team practices the on-duty process, which means they react on to any issues in production with a 24/7 schedule.
Established processes

4 Security

When John, Mike, and Bob cofounded their startup, they employed self-made intellectual property to differentiate. Their first vendor replaced team members often, which threatened their innovation security. If one of these ex-team members leaked some info, John would have been unable to charge them as all the team members had standard contracts with vendors.
At the FinTech-tailored company, developers sign NDAs designed specifically to address financial domain specifics with both client and vendor. The project envisages specific access levels for all employees. IT infrastructure at the company is designed to be as secure as possible. It’s supported by system administrators with 10+ years of experience, and professionals in penetration testing, who can identify the solution’s security holes. All team members pass a security clearance before they start working on the project, and complete periodical security training.

5 Integration with the local team

When RocketWealthPro took up investments and hired developers offshore, the local team felt disintegrated. They struggled with hotfixes and lost motivation to keep up with this project. Meanwhile, hiring new talent from the market was too time-consuming and expensive.
As dedicated team members communicated with the in-house team directly, they became an integral part of it. The offshore team was aligned across different product areas together with the in-house team. Each engineering subteam worked under a designated product manager for each product area. At the same time, hiring the FinTech development company allowed for quick scaling and extensive progress.

6 Technical debt

After scaling the system, the team faced problems with technical debt. The existing architecture and some of the technologies slowed down the development and caused bugs. Nevertheless, addressing the problem was postponed again and again.
The vendors investigated the architecture and technologies, and found the pain points that were causing the bugs. They provided a holistic solution including priorities, the effort required, and budgeting, which justified the need for the changes required. As a result, the reengineering tasks took their places in the backlog for implementation in due course.

It took around half a year for the project situation to stabilize. RocketWealthPro ramped up product development and now deliver integrations as soon as they see the demand. They take an innovative and collaborative approach to the project and are able to keep their loyal clients satisfied. Their steady growth has attracted more investments, so they are going to enrich their product offerings in future.

FinTech Engineering Approach

Vasyl’s FinTech Engineering Approach proved its efficiency. Now John, Mike, and Bob have seen for themselves that this practice is a gold standard for building a robust FinTech product:

John, CEO
John, the CEO, was able to get two new big financial institutions on board as clients after showing them the new version of the product with the enhanced client experience based on easy-to-use UI and improved data-processing performance. The boost brought by the new team restored his belief in the startup.
Bob, CTO
Bob, CTO, now can predict release milestones for each of the ongoing projects, has less pain arising from technical debt, and enjoys transparent communication with all engineering team members, both onshore and offshore. He no longer has sleepless nights and constant stress.
Mike, head of product
Mike, head of product, has been able to roll out several very important integrations—one with major market data provider and one with a custodian. This was impossible previously, as the engineering team had been focused on solving ongoing issues and bugs instead of delivering important new integrations and features. Now Mike can devote more time to his kids and family.

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