Yorkshire Building Society is migrating app development from its legacy system as part of a large investment in digital, which has accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The building society is moving from an in-house legacy platform to an application development environment from Outsystems. As well as Yorkshire Building Society, the group includes Chelsea Building Society, Norwich and Peterborough Building Society, and Accord Mortgages.
So far, the building society has moved two customer-facing applications to the new platform, with plans for all existing online services to be redeveloped on the platform.
Although the plan has been in place since before the arrival of Covid-19, the pandemic has accelerated plans, said Kirsty Jordan, head of digital at Yorkshire Building Society, who is responsible for anything that appears on the financial services group’s websites. Jordan also takes charge of “how the online products look, what the customer experience is like and how we support them”.
Jordan’s team is made up of developers, user experience insight specialists and people who understand customer and business needs. The overall team of 25 will soon grow to 35 in number as part of the building society’s increased focus on digital customer services,
The building society had the processes in place to develop quickly through the work it had done, which was vital when demands changed due to the pandemic. “The biggest challenges for us was what was being driven by the government and how we serve the needs of our customers. We had to be fleet of foot,” added Jordan.
She said the government told finance firms to ensure that customers could apply for mortgage holidays during the pandemic, for example. “Initially, we didn’t have the capability to offer this online and we couldn’t welcome people in branches, so we had to quickly spin up capability,” she said.
The pandemic has also driven customers online. “Our digital transformation started before Covid, but we are now seeing a huge channel shift,” added Jordan.
Yorkshire Building Society has been working with Outsystems since mid-2019 using the supplier’s application development platform to help it react quickly to the online needs of customers.
When the pandemic struck, the building society had built one app using Outsystems, a mortgage calculator which took three months to get live, and it has since added a savings account application process.
But there is much more to come, according to Jordan. “We will fully migrate all our customer-facing applications and self-services to Outsystems,” she said.
Jordan said to get the most out of the platform and improve customer services, the building society decided to rewrite applications. “We didn’t want to lift and shift, so we decided to rewrite these because it gives us the opportunity to make improvements to the user experience as we go along. If we just migrate applications as they are, we would probably not see any improvement,” she said.
“There’s an increasing digital dependence among our customer base, so we need to make sure those experiences are seamless and allow people to carry out activities with us as quickly and easily as possible.”
Rewriting the savings application on the new platform has proved valuable. For this application, the building society has seen a 15% increase in customers completing the journey since moving it to Outsystems.
Beyond the migration of existing systems, the building society will use the platform to deliver new functionality. “We want to deliver things that don’t exist today,” said Jordan.
The process of development has been sped up significantly, with changes that might have taken months now only requiring a couple of days or a week of work. Front-end developers can now “almost drag and drop” new experiences for customers, enabling them to react quickly to customer demands when they arise, according to Jordan.
“For example, this means we can respond quickly if customers are having difficulty with a certain part of a journey,” she said.
“We are a building society and our mission is about trying to make things easy for people – whether that is finding a new home or developing financial resilience.”