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Learn how payments giant Mastercard overcame blockers to improve productivity to productivity by improving user acceptance testing and product delivery.

Achieving success in growing digital product areas can create fresh challenges to overcome, as Mastercard recently discovered. The global payments technology company works to connect and power an inclusive digital economy – by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible across more than 210 countries worldwide.

Transforming a complex and inefficient delivery process

Mastercard faced a challenge to meet the growing market demand for its prepaid card services. The prepaid card team creates digital products for corporate clients that enable them to run their prepaid card programmes.

A key problem was that the team’s testing process was siloed from the rest of the development process. This lack of visibility and collaboration meant they were unable to respond effectively to demand. The team was also very under-resourced and lacked senior input from the business.

Working with experts in digital product delivery

Mastercard engaged London-based digital product consultancy Elsewhen as a strategic partner to clarify the underlying symptoms of the problem.

Thanks to digital transformation principles and its extensive experience in quality assurance (QA), Mastercard was able to enhance and accelerate its product delivery and user acceptance testing (UAT) processes. The consultancy made a set of recommendations to help Mastercard implement positive change. They established and rolled out an implementation plan for Mastercard to achieve rapid improvements to team structure, methods and workflows.

Key issues identified by the consultancy to address included:

  • Resourcing: The teams were too under-resourced, and lacked clear oversight of the process.
  • Collaboration: UAT teams were siloed, with insufficient use of collaboration techniques.
  • Product practices: Too much manual activity and duplication of work were happening, with issues being found late, and insufficient test automation.

Following a phased path to better delivery

Mastercard undertook a 12-week engagement on the project, with work in three strategic phases:

1. Assess: They conducted a detailed assessment of the current internal state of play. This involved mapping out each stage of the current processes, the key pain points and their impacts – and the causes behind these issues. They interviewed team members and stakeholders, building trust and hearing their perspectives on the problems.

2. Recommend: With the insights gained, they developed recommendations for Mastercard on building an improved team structure, and defining new roles and responsibilities. On a broader strategic scope, they also identified ways to Improve wider delivery practices.

3. Implement: Finally, they developed a practical plan for Mastercard to implement the recommendations. This included an in-depth handover to equip the teams with the required insights, skills and methodologies. The consultancy also helped the prepaid business recruit its first specialist delivery director, to drive and oversee the process.

Building more efficient delivery pipelines and teams

Mastercard’s teams had faced a ‘brain drain’ caused by staff turnover and over-reliance on contractors. The consultancy recommended skilled new hires in the areas of the bottlenecks – bringing leadership and knowledge to open the lines of communication between teams.

In terms of team structure, they recommended better alignment of UAT with product owners and Scrum teams, with a UAT analyst for every two teams. They also clarified how the Agile Scrum process should operate.

Finally, they recommended that Mastercard’s teams “shift ‘left” along the timeline – starting testing, collaboration and risk assessment earlier in the development process. They also encouraged more automation of testing, rather than the reliance on manual regression testing.

Enabling better, faster delivery with less effort

The consultancy was proactive on Mastercard’s team resourcing issues, helping the firm hire the right people – including a senior leader – by putting together a detailed process to follow.

By reinforcing how testing should operate, they provided a structure for better and earlier collaboration in the wider product processes employed at Mastercard. This has enabled quicker, more rigorous testing – so any problem is caught earlier, by teams empowered to resolve it.

The primary outcome of the consultancy’s work was a much better product process throughout, as well as key improvements to the QA and UAT layers. For example, the introduction of automated end-to-end regression testing has reduced UAT effort by 87.5%, – helping to accelerate delivery and assure quality for Mastercard.

As Rich Cole, Vice President of Strategy & Enablement at Mastercard, says: “The consultancy quickly understood and located our underlying business challenges, built out strategic recommendations – and gave us the keys to bring about long-term transformation in the business.”