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Developing mobile app for Natwest

Building a strategic partnership with NatWest

On Wednesday 12th June, technology and innovation experts gathered together for this years London Tech Week to present a wide range of keynotes, seminars and workshops.

As part of the Innovation Festival, I sat down with Ricci Didonato, Head of Bankline Mobile at NatWest, for an open conversation on how corporates and smaller scale-up organisations can overcome challenges, promote trust and build a one team mentality to truly maximise their partnership. Having worked closely with Ricci on various innovation workstreams within RBS and NatWest over the past 2 years, it felt like the perfect opportunity to share our experience and learnings to help other corporates understand the benefits of working with smaller scale-ups such as TAB and vice versa. This blog post summarises the key learnings from our discussion and highlights practical ways to begin maximising your strategic relationships.

TAB operates in an agile way, and whilst this means we can move at a fast pace, it doesn’t always appear to be the most natural fit for large organisations with a lot of governance and regulated processes. However, in our experience we have found these partnerships have opened up gateways to innovation for the corporates, providing opportunities to develop new products at pace and start to change ingrained processes, whilst enabling TAB to continue to grow the scale of our impact. If you would like to find out how to maintain effective agile practices while growing at scale, take a look at our recent blog post here.

The way in which teams are established and managed is an extremely important part of maximising the impact of a partnership. At TAB, we aren’t prescriptive about the ways in which project teams are set up. Instead, we empower our teams to define their own organic ways of working, drawing from TAB principles, enabling us to create a model that best suits the product and client needs. NatWest recognised the value of us working this way, and this element of flexibility was essential to not only successfully delivering an MVP product to users in just 12 weeks, but also the the long-term success of the project.

We worked closely with NatWest early on to agree on the desired outcomes, and since then have partnered as one team to achieve them. This has resulted in a strong one-team mentality, as opposed to two separate TAB and NatWest teams. Communicating and celebrating team wins helped to strengthen this one-team mentality, further contributing to the team success. Taking time to call out individuals for great work and making sure project wins are celebrated together, whether that be through team lunches or drinks, has gone a long way towards ensuring and sustaining the success of the TAB and NatWest team. Although more effort is required, it is still possible to achieve a one-team mentality if your team works across multiple locations. We've pulled together some top tips here on how to maintain effective relationships within remote teams.

Whilst there have been challenges along the way, we worked hard early on to build trust with Ricci and his colleagues through clear and honest communication. This allowed us to face challenges together and find creative ways to solve them which worked for both organisations. Over the course of the TAB and NatWest partnership, we have grown from one small development team to multiple development teams, along with new workstreams including prototyping, strategy and supporting NatWest to build and develop their in-house capability.

Finally, an important factor which Ricci and I both alluded to in our discussion, is being selective in who you work with. As with any relationship, a partnership involves making yourself aware of what you are getting yourself into, by taking the time to understand who you are working with, and more importantly, why you want to work with them. Understanding how this partner can fit into your wider company strategy and ensuring both parties are aligned, is an extremely important way to maximise the relationship and ensure you reap the full benefits of a partnership, like the one between TAB and NatWest, has to offer.

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