In today’s climate, most small/med-sized FIs must figure out how to replicate their in-person experience to a fully digital relationship – and do so quickly … Q2’s SDK is a fundamental mechanism in this.– Andrew Tull; Managing Partner, Tailwind
Let’s face it, there’s an industry-wide backlog when it comes to delivering new digital functionality. The pressure to deliver in the digital continues to accelerate, but legacy technology — the way it’s developed, integrated, and deployed — makes it feel almost impossible for most Financial Institutions (FIs) to keep pace.
This backlog creates a lot of tension for leaders. Account holders and board members don’t care about the challenges of legacy banking technology; they just expect great digital experiences. That pressure then gets passed down the line, often making the backlog of innovation the greatest point of tension between an FI and their vendor.
Thankfully, flexibility and more immediate innovation are possible. In fact, they can be downright easy. We’re removing barriers to innovation with Q2’s SDK Certified Development Partner Program, which offers customers the same powerful development tools Q2 uses in their own digital banking software, while pairing them with vetted organizations who deliver a broad range of custom functionality in record time. The result is that any Q2 customer can take the pace and direction of their digital innovation into their own hands without requiring a single developer on staff.
Q2 Chief Strategy Officer Will Furrer sat down with Andrew Tull, founder of Tailwind Business Ventures to explore some tangible ways Q2’s SDK program has expedited production.
Along with a handful of other impressive results, Tull stated that overall, “the SDK program has made it possible for us to start moving on a project right away…often in a matter of weeks versus months and under budget.” If you’re like the majority of FIs or developers fatigued by lagging implementation timelines, you’re probably pleased to hear this.
The story doesn’t stop there. For a closer look at Tailwind’s experience as a Certified Development Partner, check out the full conversation in our latest Fireside Chat — and be on the lookout for Part 2, where we hear from a successful credit union on the customer’s point of view.
Will Furrer: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today, Andrew. I want to first get some background on Tailwind. How did you start the business? And how did you end up in financial services?
Andrew Tull: Absolutely. I’m one of four partners here at Tailwind Business Ventures who came together several years ago with the intent of providing a different way of doing custom software development. A lot of people like to throw individuals at a project, whether from a staff augmentation perspective or through the approach of “more bodies makes more work,” but we don’t always think that’s the best way to do things. The mantra behind Tailwind isn’t “Software as a Service,” but “Software as a Relationship.” In other words, the relationship between a particular individual and a company to achieve mutual goals is paramount. With the Innovation Studio, we’ve successfully implemented this with what’s now a roster of about 30 to 35 different projects for a whole host of customers across the country and internationally. We have about 225 people at Tailwind, with 90% of our team comprised of senior level development such as business analysts, UX specialists, core developers, and delivery personnel—all dedicated to furthering this cause.
Will Furrer: Tailwind’s story is an important one to tell when it comes to an industry-wide pain-point—slow innovation delivery. What stood out to you about Q2 for this initiative?
Andrew Tull: Three words come to mind—strategic, opportunity, and partnership. Our work with Q2 is strategic because every customer wants to deliver unique functionality, and we want to help them bring it to life. However, there’s a huge backlog issue in play. In today’s climate, most small/mid-sized FIs must figure out how to replicate their in-person experience to a fully digital relationship—and do so quickly. This may involve integrating to single sign-on, making navigational changes, or adding new chat capabilities to be more user-friendly. Q2’s Innovation Studio is a fundamental mechanism in this because it provides a list of functionality points for any custom development need. We want other partners—whether it be fintech partners, development partners, or even customers—to integrate that functionality into their own technologies in the same way. The word ‘opportunity’ stands out because there’s a wide spectrum of integrations that need to happen for our customers—some simple, some complex—but there isn’t anything that can’t be integrated into the Innovation Studio. We want to make them all possible, both quickly and efficiently. Lastly, ‘partnership’ stands out because with the Innovation Studio, we’re not just thinking of the first project; we’re thinking down the line to proactively help our customers and look at additional opportunities going forward. This allows us to build on our relationships more strategically. Our favorite phrase is, “how can we help?” At the end of the day, the Innovation Studio is helping us better help them.
Will Furrer: What kind of feedback are you receiving on the Innovation Studio? And how is it different from other custom integration projects you’re working on?
Andrew Tull: I can say from an internal perspective that the level of detail and documentation that has been provided from the Q2 team, as well as the willingness to support and shortcut around questions we have has been exceptional. The presentation of the Innovation Studio, as well as the follow-through and support from the Q2 team has been really great.
Will Furrer: What has this meant for your business and the relationships you’re forging? How confident does this make you feel about the forecast of a highly saturated market?
Andrew Tull: At this point, we have somewhere between 8 to 10 folks primarily dedicated to Q2-related work on our team, and we’re looking to double this size over the next three to six months for projects we’ve gained through those relationships. It’s a very strategic partnership for us and represents the fact that fintech is in the top three verticals we’re spending time on. We’re running with it.
Will Furrer: What do you anticipate that market to look like in the next few years for Tailwind?
Andrew Tull: The partner team at Tailwind has decided to invest heavily in Q2, including backend processes and systems like ongoing knowledge transfer and people placement. We see a substantive and regular upward growth with the Q2 team going forward, and not just within the next year, but beyond.
Will Furrer: Can you talk a little more about the specific problems you’re solving? And what these projects look like?
Andrew Tull: A specific problem-set we’re working on currently is quick turnaround for single sign-on integration. For one customer, this was backlogged with the Q2 team and slated for about six to seven months, which didn’t meet their business requirements. Q2 knew this timing was an issue and brought it to us. By the time we got the discovery process ironed out, we had a master services agreement in place and were ready to start work in about a week or two. This was a relatively simple project but the customer needed it in a month. Overall, we were able to deliver on it quickly and efficiently, meet their deadline, and save them a pretty penny—which also allowed us to ramp up about four other projects for them that otherwise wouldn’t have been considered. If a customer needs something before year’s end, the Innovation Studio program has made it possible for us to start moving on a project right away and meet that goal—often in a matter of weeks versus months and under budget.
Will Furrer: What has this done for your relationship development and pipeline?
Andrew Tull: Ultimately, people like to work with those they know and trust. Customers that have successfully completed two or three projects with us are now talking to their peers about it and spreading the word, which is a quicker, more credible way to form relationships. The facilitated introduction from Q2 throughout this process has cut our lead time down from roughly eight weeks to just two weeks.