What happens when you put IT developers using agile methods in the same workspace with business subject-matter experts and customer service representatives, and give them an isolated live production environment? For USAA, it created a faster way to go from idea to prototype to a new service for its insurance and banking customers.
Dubbed Agile Labs, the process quickly turns ideas into new products that service representatives test on live calls with customers. The reps provide feedback that's used to improve the offerings.
USAA got more than 350 product enhancements from its first Agile Lab and realized a sixfold return on investment. It opened six more labs last year and increased the number of projects budgeted for them to 25% of project spending this year, from 2% last year.
The labs' average time to market is more than 40% faster than traditional waterfall development methods. USAA is planning to cut time-to-market goals for all projects by 45% by the end of 2015, as compared with the end of 2010.