RPMI Case Study - Accelerating innovation with Agile

19th November 2021

When teams come together with an Agile mindset, it can create a closer and more transparent relationship that engenders collective ownership. The result is a step-change in efficiency and the ability to fast-track innovation for the customer’s benefit.

It's an approach that has proven successful for RPMI, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Railways Pension Trustee Company Limited (RPTCL). And while its heritage goes back over 50 years, the company has a passion for using modern technology to deliver a better customer experience.

RPMI began as the pensions office for the British Railways pension arrangements in 1965. Today, RPMI provides administration and strategic support to the railways’ pension schemes and a number of third party clients.

It partnered with Answer to deliver a digital strategy that focused on the rapid adoption of new technologies.

The project worked using an Agile methodology with a squad that combined the team from Answer and the digital team from RPMI. Together the team used DevOps practices to combine software development and IT operations. The outcome was a robust and sustainable approach to designing, developing and implementing new tools across the organisation.

RPMI’s Mike Gilligan was the product owner, which meant daily involvement with the project to help accelerate deliverables. It also enabled faster decision making and problem-solving. In addition, the one team approach created a transparent, collaborative and supportive environment for everyone involved.

The team quickly moved to a cycle of continually developing and releasing to optimise delivery. The incremental process swiftly improved the output of the project to deliver real business and customer value.

One example of the approach was the launch of a Chatbot which was developed in response to a customer requirement. Using CI-CD (continuous integration and continuous delivery/continuous deployment) practice, the tool was developed over a couple of sprints. Initially released into a four-week usability study, the team continued iterating, adding in small incremental changes following user feedback. These changes were developed on Fridays and released the following Monday, and then further feedback was gathered. It underlines the ease and flexibility of the methodology.

Shift Left.

Quality is built into the process with a Shift Left approach. It means that testers are involved from the beginning of the process to ensure no surprises at the end. By ensuring a focus on testing is supported throughout the DevOps process, issues are fixed as they happen rather than creating bigger problems down the road.

It’s clear that if you catch problems earlier, you can correct them, and it’s more efficient rather than having to restart the process having reached the end. Issues are fixed and tested to ensure they are resolved before the process moves on. The development process becomes more effective in an Agile team thanks to transparency and collaboration.

Customer trust.

In the financial services sector, the importance of delivering technology that works is hugely important. High profile failures by high street banks have damaged brands and caused problems for customers. Testing is critical within the DevOps process, and RPMI worked together with Answer to ensure testing was built into every step. It was engineered into every sprint and reviewed in scenario planning.

As problems arise, the entire project team is available to act quickly, and fixes are applied outside of the usual development cycle. Having the product owner within the daily team operations meant RMPI’s wider team were part of decision making, and any wider implications were considered quickly.


A cross-functional team was hugely advantageous to both organisations. Teams learnt from each other and shared a common Agile view of the work process. One team, working toward a common goal, can be very effective and deliver a transformative experience to the customer.

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