Our client is one of the UK’s largest banks. To deliver the best digital tools, platforms, and products to millions of customers and a large number of employees, the client is always looking at emerging technologies. The bank favours technologies that provide opportunities for innovative, customer-focused products and services, and tools that allow for continual evolution of internal working methodologies.

The challenge

Open-source software (OSS) was quickly identified as a key technology in the delivery of an innovative digital strategy. OSS is software released into the public domain by its creator that can then be used, controlled, modified, and shared by developers worldwide, typically for free. OSS is particularly useful for reducing development time and the associated costs, while allowing engineers to access well-maintained tools for use within projects.

However, using OSS on a large scale presents security and operational risks. The client therefore launched a programme with the aim of providing robust solutions for how it consumes and contributes to OSS safely. The client asked BJSS to be part of this multi-year transformation project, nurture relationships across the business, and provide governance, education and support around OSS.

The solution

BJSS quickly got to work with the client’s teams and stakeholders to collaborate on discovery exercises. The discovery phase lasted a year, with the following being achieved:

  • Analysed the needs of engineers, stakeholders, and the wider team
  • Designed an end-to-end, front-to-back service for onboarding, operation, and management
  • Developed the service, then tested and revised it iteratively
  • Instructed how to deploy, manage, and certify fitness to use the service
  • Planned a staggered roll-out against the maturity of the teams involved
  • Enthused and engaged stakeholders to market the value of OSS

In partnership with client engineers, BJSS established a learning programme on an approved platform that comprised short, interactive learning modules, covering safe use and best practice across the end-to-end OSS life cycle.

As the project progressed through the various phases, it became clear that there was vast potential in the client’s existing technology, with not a single new piece of technology needing to be introduced to the bank’s estate.

To encourage and empower engineers to use OSS, the project team created an Open Source Community and the concept of Community Champions who could ‘lead the way’ to consistent Open Source adoption internally. It would become a space where discussions are encouraged, knowledge with other engineers is shared, and contributions from participants are welcomed, including participating in related internal and external events. To date, the community has over 200 members, supported by around 20 Community Champions.

Additionally, BJSS and the client collaborated to develop a contribution process that would allow engineers to contribute their own code back to Open Source projects under their own name. This process allowed the bank to deliver their first code contribution in its 250-year history, offering technical parity with other major financial institutions.

As the client’s engineers had direct contact with both the inputs and outputs of the project, it was important to give them the right tools to succeed. In a unique turn, the client enabled the BJSS team to create a strategy that focused on engaging colleagues as part of the journey, showcasing a people-first approach. This included activities such as innovative Lego-based workshops to explain how OSS works and speaking at internal technology hackathons.

The innovative and fresh approaches that the team displayed led to other teams across the organisation adopting these standards to form their own experiences and activities.

The team also created an easily identifiable brand for the programme, including a logo, colour palette, and tone of voice. This influenced the look and feel of the knowledge front door, merchandise for events, and how the team approached ways of working.

This was a novel experience for the Centre of Excellence (CoE) that the programme was based in, with the wider CoE engaging BJSS to develop similar brands for the other services they offer.

The Software CoE supports engineers with coding standards, innovation, tooling, and sustainability. Although the Software CoE had some existing products for engineers, they were not easily recognisable and lacked a clear mission statement.

BJSS’ design team led a series of short, impactful workshops to define the mission, brand, and tone of voice clearly for the Software CoE and delivered a series of assets to support the team moving forward. Assets included a new logo, a SharePoint site, PowerPoint templates, and merchandise for events.

The success of this short project led to the BJSS design team being extended to help further establish the mission of individual Software CoE teams and develop a cohesive brand throughout each team’s engineer-facing platforms and events.

The outcome

At the beginning of our engagement on the project, we recognised that an initiative centred on collaboration would not realise its maximum potential if those working on it were siloed or otherwise differentiated by their employing company.

From the start, BJSS and the client adopted a collaborative, ‘One Team’ approach that allowed the team to build trust across the organisation, gain a deeper understanding of the client's challenges and specific risk considerations, and design processes to benefit engineers and internal colleagues in the long term.

By creating this sense of unity, it became easier to acknowledge those areas where the BJSS team lacked expertise and to acquire the confidence to reach out to the bank’s expansive pool of talented engineers. Developing this sense of unity shifted thinking away from the notion that this was a transformation intended for only one department. The approach became holistic, reaching out across tech and non-tech components to ensure an aligned transformation and leading to organisational change at scale.

Internally, thousands of engineers and non-technical people working in the client’s technology functions benefitted from improvements to working practices. Hundreds of engineers took part in the learning programme and attended talks and events.

From a BJSS perspective, the project team strengthened the client’s scanning capability by enabling automatic OSS licence scanning. Once a manual process, this outcome empowers the bank with a centralised capability to remain abreast of any emerging risks and challenges in the OSS arena, keeping customers safe and services active.

Through the learning programme, it was established that ~66% of engineers didn't realise there was a process to follow for OSS or when they were even following a process, but the learning programme helped build understanding of how to unlock Open Source potential safely.

The learning programme, and associated content, garnered positive feedback from colleagues across the bank.

Moreover, the project contributed to the international OSS and Financial Services communities, for example, FINOS. It provided a one stop shop for engineers to get support with all things OSS alongside developing channels of support for non-technical departments, such as legal and group sourcing. Departments that may encounter OSS-related concerns but lack the required knowledge.

The project has inspired the future for the client. It is already engaged as part of the bank’s evolving work in the AI space, driving best practices to keep the bank and its customers safe and secure.