Jade Software Tue, Aug 25, '20 10 min read

TAL, Rest Super, and Jade: An implementation success story

In mid-2019 and following a rigorous competitive tender process, TAL was selected by Rest Super to provide Group insurance to its superannuation fund members. TAL then needed to integrate with Rest Super’s systems over an aggressive 6-month timeline so that it could insure and support Rest members from December 2019.

In addition to its own adept technology function, TAL leverages Jade as a strategic technology delivery partner to provide technology capabilities outside its typical business operations. Based on demonstrated industry domain knowledge and an established relationship of joint success, TAL engaged Jade to support its onboarding of Rest Super and give itself the best opportunity to facilitate a smooth integration.

“Jade’s technical consultants and sales personnel are well versed in our industry, which is critical to designing a solution that was right for our business”
Jason Gracanin, Head of Rest at TAL

The approach

At the outset of the engagement, Jade was already engaged on initiatives across TAL’s Retail, Direct, and Group business lines. Given the strategic importance of this initiative to the Group business line, Jade coordinated with TAL stakeholders to re-assign consultants already working within Group given the value that their implicit knowledge would have to immediate progress. In addition, Jade bolstered this team with additional Sydney-based personnel and secondments from its Christchurch headquarters.

“Jade’s understanding of TAL’s technology vision, decision-making and culture supported finding and addressing problems specific to our organisation”
Hinesh Chauhan, General Manager – Technology

Jade was also conscious of the importance of ramping up resources over a short lead-time to minimise personnel confusion and upskilling, and to build an early base of productivity and operational rhythm towards the end goal. So the core cohort of consultants already working within TAL’s Group business was allocated for an immediate start, with additional team members added throughout the initial 6 weeks of the engagement. 

The challenges

Despite TAL Group’s expertise and experience in executing the onboarding of new Super funds, the assemblage of a new team to deliver a substantial initiative against a time pressure is inevitably challenging. Meeting this challenge requires an ability to deal with uncertainty and an implicit understanding of the way a client does business.

During the Rest Super implementation, some key challenges included:

Personnel onboarding

The Rest Super delivery team was drawn from personnel (TAL and partner) already familiar with the Group business, as well as new staff with no TAL context. Familiarising this group with objectives, systems, processes, and culture created a significant risk to delivery velocity.

Software development lifecycle (SDLC)

With a large team forming to deliver the Super Rest onboarding, and multiple TAL and Rest Super technology end points to coordinate, there was need for greater visibility and utility of the development lifecycle through which team members committed, tested, and promoted code during each sprint. Without a straight-forward way to coordinate software packages, the efficiency of the delivery would be impaired.

Developer capacity

With over 30 developers utilising the code base, there was a concern regarding how to maximise the productivity of additional contributors to execute the implementation without compromising platform performance and introducing unintended functional impacts.

Quality assurance automation

Validation of new software for inclusion into Production relies not only on demonstration of specific use cases, but confidence that related systems and existing functions have not been negatively impacted. This can create considerable overhead for execution and the onboarding initiative required optimisation of this capability. 

“Sourcing and upskilling new team members is typically a time-consuming process. Enabling new team members to become fully productive, while minimising impacts to existing team members and not introducing tech debt, also requires time. By having the right conversations with me and my team to understand our pain points and aspirations, Jade was able to successfully take on a lot of this responsibility for me and expedite the upskill, allowing me and my direct reports to focus on successfully delivering the change required for the client.”
Susan Hancy, Technology Platform Owner, TAL

The execution and outcomes

Under the leadership of platform owners in the Group business line, Jade’s consultants provided technical leadership and execution capabilities to progress the Rest Super integration to plan, showcasing progress to business stakeholders on a regular basis to ensure that emerging outputs were aligned with the expectations set for Rest Super during the tender process and to minimise the need for rework on the ambitious schedule. 

“TAL has been able to leverage Jade’s technology leadership to accelerate our digital engineering capabilities. Jade has invested the time to learn about our existing technologies so that a clear, iterative path to more efficient, scalable solutions could be created and shared across the company.”
Hinesh Chauhan, General Manager – Technology

To address the initiative’s challenges and make development practice improvements that also enabled delivery commitments, Jade proposed and implemented the following:

Onboarding acceleration

Following interviews with relevant TAL subject-matter experts and platform leaders, Jade designed and implemented a user experience process flow for new or re-assigned personnel that helped them understand the organisational, business, and technical context of their new team. Jade produced written, visual, and video content to instantiate this process. As a result, the lead time for effective sprint participation of new project resources dropped from over six weeks to two.

SDLC improvements

By re-configuring existing Octopus Deploy and TeamCity build tools plus implementing new practice norms, Jade enabled Group’s new business pod to execute daily deploys to its user acceptance testing environment (previously executed weekly). This allowed changes to be verified faster and for conflicts with other enhancements to be identified immediately.

Enabling team scale

In collaboration with TAL development engineers, the combined team improved the source control mechanism to enable the addition of development team members without adverse impact.

Quality assurance and SDLC automation

After auditing existing build, release and test practices in the Group business, Jade automated release notifications, and expanded the coverage of automated regression testing for base and edge-case scenarios.

The ultimate result of the Rest Super onboarding engagement was an on-time, high-quality technology delivery. In addition, select Jade consultants were quoted as "always willing to go the extra step to investigate and resolve issues, regardless of responsibility for delivery" by a TAL respondent of project retrospective survey.

The future

Beyond the immediate achievement, Jade’s collaboration has set TAL's business up for ongoing success in technical delivery, with practice enhancements contributing to TAL’s continued digital transformation. An ethos of true partnership, as well as joint focus on minimising technical debt and enabling a scalable delivery model for the future, were key to the achievements.

“Jade is a strategic digital technology partner for TAL. Its insurance domain experience, technical depth, willingness to innovate and enthusiastic personnel makes Jade a partner we want to build success with for years to come.”
Hinesh Chauhan, General Manager – Technology

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