Managing and leading transformational change projects at a fast growing FinTech

Blog· 8min May 18, 2020

Join Thomas Vogt-Skard, an experienced programme director at Form3 on how he leads clients through transformational projects whilst remote working. 

At Form3, we have a pragmatic approach to planning, project management and the way we engage with our enterprise customers. Our “remote first” culture and use of online tools are standing us in good stead generally, and especially in the current environment. 

From a project management perspective, we recognise that whilst we have certain software and tools that work well within our organisation, each bank has its own way of working and its own operating environment. Recognising the transformational nature of our cloud-native Payments as a Service offering, frequently in the context of established bank environments, we are therefore establishing collaborative relationships with our customers, working jointly on roadmaps and project planning. With our team of banking and payments specialists, we understand from experience the challenges that banks often face when undertaking transformation projects.

So, is it all just hype? Project management without the bells and whistles:

The terms ‘project management’ (and especially ‘programme management’) still make me slightly nervous, even though you could argue that is what I’ve been doing for a living for the last 20 years!

Healthy tension, I like to think. For some, these terms imply the use of sophisticated tools and software which I think can be helpful to specific and well-defined needs, but perhaps more often simply create un-needed complexity and an air of authority for the Project / Programme Director or Lead. That is not what we are about.

Having had the experience of running projects in many different environments, I believe it is always best to start by defining what one is trying to achieve and what the constraints and parameters are. At the outset of each project, it is worthwhile looking at a few basic questions (once the overall objectives have been defined and agreed):

  • How can we make communication within the wider team (including customer stakeholders) as transparent, effective and collaborative as possible?
  • How can we make best use of the limited resources we and our customers have (including people)?
  • What is the right decision-making approach, so that we can move forward without delay? 

Addressing these types of questions, in partnership with our enterprise customers at an early stage provides for better joint project planning and will ultimately pay handsome dividends in the form of less friction and therefore quicker and better delivery (generating the desired benefits in less time!)

Whether or not our enterprise customers can use all of the communication software that we find helpful (e.g. Slack and Zoom), we can utilise our deep experience in banking and payments to help ensure that we understand our customer’s priorities, the concerns and risks they have and the internal processes they have established and that we must respect.

Looking to the future: 

The combination of Form3’s cloud-native technology, and deep banking and payments experience underpins every engagement we deliver for our enterprise customers. Although we enjoy meeting our clients in person (and look forward to returning to that mode of working!), our remote-first culture is helping to ensure that all our projects are progressing to plan in the current challenging environment.

We look forward to working collaboratively with many more banks in future to transform the way they process payments!

Five tips for Project managers during the COVID-19 crisis, and more generally:

1. Communicate more than necessary: It is supportive in the current environment, and you never know where the next great idea to solve a problem or deliver better outcomes is coming from.

2. Good old-fashioned planning: Think backwards from your end goal(s). Failing to plan is planning to fail!

3. Collaborate: Do what you can to create or feed a collaborative culture. The sense of working towards common goals and naturally helping each other as colleagues is priceless.

4. Use technology pragmatically: Use technology that allows you and your colleagues to collaborate effectively, communicate openly (as appropriate) and access and use information easily. Here at Form3 we utilise a combination of Slack and Zoom with open communication in public channels encouraged across all teams.

5. Support colleagues and be considerate: Especially now during this crisis, be tolerant and kind. The current situation is mentally and emotionally challenging and supporting each other is even more important now!

Written by

Thomas Vogt-Skard Enterprise Director at Form3

Thomas has held senior roles in Banking and Payments for more than 20 years, including in Strategy, Corporate Development and Sales and with substantial international experience. He has played a key part in growing Form3 since he joined in 2020, initially focused on Tier 1 UK accounts and subsequently helping to expand our European business. Thomas is keen to meet Bankers and Payments professionals and above all help banks transform and modernise their payments infrastructure.