Speaker John Baker at Kaplan Test Prep on 'Mastercard Marries Enterprise'


John Baker, an experienced Business Architect, shared the do's and don'ts last Thursday October 9th on steering agile development at Mastercard. In sum, Baker's advice: “Do not analyze to death unless you know what you'll be analyzing for.” 


For startups and larger more established businesses like Mastercard, agile development is commonly adopted and pitted against the waterfall approach favoring more iterative, horizontal structures in tackling project management. The evening's lecture gave an overview of business architecture at company. At its core, Mastercard is a payment processing company, and what Baker refers to as a combination of 'legacy and emerging.' He sites mobile payments as an example of an emerging aspect of the business requiring Mastercard to rapidly adapt to changes in technology. According to Baker, there are three architectures to consider: business, solution and technical. Business architecture, independent of technical architecture, is comprised of aspects that relate to the business including but not limited to marketing, sales, operations, implemented by a non-technical team. The primary purpose of the Business Architect is to “enable the IT life cycle,” creating capabilities or touch points of what will allow the company to work best. Common questions surfaced around whether or not to outsource project work or keep it in-house to preserve a competitive advantage. The answer? It depends.

Baker cites Michael Porter's Activity System Map or ASM as key in differentiating strategies for a company. Southwest Airlines is Porter's example of a business offering cheaper fares to remain competitive in air space. How does the company execute its competitive advantage? Southwest did by offering services without frills, no meals onboard, quick 15 minute turnovers at the gate, revealing a clear ASM to show to executives. The Business Model Canvas is also similarly used in startups and companies responsible for identifying key resources of business concepts. Baker notes the importance of streamlining terminology across teams between both business architecture and software engineers to ensure communication as the organization grows.

Another key component to agile at Mastercard is referred to as the 'Adapt Lifecycle,' an iterative and collaborative nature of agile development teams reacting to change in real time. Additionally, Baker notes that people want to see up front the reasonable costs of the effort and project being created. Transparency is key.

Interested in learning more? Future meetups will be held next month hosted by ALPNYC.