Infinity Works began with user research focusing on service design, leading to a ‘thin slice’ minimum viable product (MVP). This ‘slice’ would represent a fully-working, end-to-end implementation of the new platform, proving the concept from day one after launch – the very first task being to automate releases into production, as the continuous, rapid delivery of value was of central importance.
The first product – the simplest loan product to be offered – was launched on the platform to a small number of retailers, and gradually rolled out to greater numbers of customers as the platform was refined and expanded. New features were then added, again using the ‘thin slice’ concept, whereby the simplest version of the feature touching every part of the business would be deployed. By contrast, a traditional approach might have been to fully work up each element of a feature, but this would deliver value more slowly, and would represent greater risk as the more complex individual elements were integrated with each other.
Our approach, to launch with an MVP and to focus on thin slices of functionality, stands in contrast to a traditional approach to delivering similar products to market. Such an approach might involve fully developing each element of the product or even of each feature before exposing it to customers. However, this tends to deliver value (i.e. a product or feature that customers can use) slowly, and limits the flexibility to adapt the details of the product based on the reactions of the first customers. It would also introduce additional risk as more complex elements are integrated with each other, further slowing down delivery.
In nine months and with a team of eight consultants, Infinity Works:
- built a new consumer loans platform capable of processing a high volume of applications and expanding to future products;
- launched a pilot version which was then rolled out at scale to retailers, and provided out-of-hours support;
- laid the groundwork for scaling up the platform to support many more retailers and products, adding a further four squads aligning to different retail channels;
- augmented the company’s engineering teams to help them upskill, ensuring that once the platform was fully handed over they would have complete capability to operate and further develop it;
- facilitated a cultural shift in the finance company’s release and change management functions, focusing on many small releases rather than few big releases.