In today’s ever changing market, the ability of a business to remain agile is critical in keeping them competitive. Business agility enables a business to respond to these changes, helping them realize their full potential regardless of internal and external pressures.
Business agility as the term implies is a strategy that allows organizations to effectively respond to market disruptions and gain a competitive advantage. It enables businesses to innovate and deliver products that are relevant to changing market needs.
For your business to be considered “Agile,” your organization must be able to demonstrate these capabilities.
- Deliver fast and responsively
- Ability to innovate products
- An organization that is high adaptable
- Effective leadership through complexity
Agile as a Work Management Process
Agile is a work management philosophy that was originally develop for the IT and software industry. It was used as an alternative to Software Development Life cycle processes that was used in developing new software and other IT products. However, its effectiveness as a work management method made it also ideal for businesses across several industries.
When using Agile, product development is done in stages rather than delivering a complete product at the very end. During development, the product is broken down into stages. With the use of Agile philosophy, businesses can become more streamlined and more responsive to changes. Below are some of the core philosophies of Agile.
Welcome Late Changes
One of the worst things that can happen in the production process is a sudden change in objectives. While this signals something wrong with product development, in Agile, late changes are welcome. This is because it gives the company the opportunity to improve a product based on a sudden change in the market. Rather than deliver a flawed product, Agile enables you to deliver a product that is more attuned to the needs of customers.
Agile puts great importance in the role of employees in the delivery of a successful project. It aims to create project timelines based around highly motivated employees. Agile understands the importance of keeping employees engaged and ready for any changes. This is done by providing a conducive working environment and placing a high degree of trust in their abilities. By setting clear goals and expectations, employees can be trusted to deliver tasks more independently and effectively.
Taking Time to Reflect
Projects that use Agile are characterized by sprints. These means projects are assessed at specific stages during production. This interval between sprints enable the team to reflect on each task and what areas during production can be improved on. It also gives them time to reflect if the product still meets the objectives of the project and if changes are necessary to address changing customer attitudes for example.
Principles of Business Agility
Here are the basic principles that define what it is to be considered “business agile.” These principles are a must-have for any business or organization to remain competitive and sustain its long-term success.
Focusing on Outcomes and Results
Rather than focusing on the different tasks and roles of each employee, a business must learn to direct their energy on outcomes and results. Businesses must constantly be ready for change. In order to be competitive, a business must be ready to implement the latest production technology to improve efficiency or modify existing products according to market needs.
Collaboration and Working Relationships
When implementing changes, this must be accepted across the organization. Better collaboration and working relationships make it easier for people across different departments to coordinate changes. It helps eliminate common barriers to change such as politics, poor communication, personal conflicts, and lack of information.
Speed and Efficiency
The key to being “Agile” is a business’ ability to implemented changes with speed and efficiency. It is not only a matter of how quickly you make these changes but also how it is done. When a need to change is identified, the necessary changes must be done without affecting normal business operations. A change in production for example must not affect the sales team. Focus on delivering change in a manner that promotes efficiency and not just changing for the sake of change.
When implementing business agility, project managers must be conscious of the organization’s resources. They must consider if these changes are something that the business can afford and if it is the most cost-efficient process. Would the benefits outweigh the costs of implementing this new process? Making an informed decision is critical when making these decisions. Project managers should have access to the latest, accurate information to make adjustments on workflow or project objectives.
A fully engaged workforce is essential to the Agile process. Even the best equipment and production strategy are ineffective without the full participation of the workforce. While managers are responsible for identifying these changes, employees are the ones responsible for implementing these changes. Informing your employees about the benefits is the best way of keeping them engaged.
Staying on Top of Everything
Business agility is not only being quick to make changes. It is also ensuring that all these changes align with the business’ core objectives. To make this happen, project managers and decision makers must constantly monitor market changes, developments in technology, and the current state of the business.
How Can Business Agility Help You?
Shifting markets and changing project objectives makes it difficult for businesses to keep their competitive advantage. This is certainly difficult when everybody wants to be on top. This makes business agility critical today. In order to be successful, a business must implement an adaptable and responsive strategy that can overcome unexpected roadblocks, risks, and challenges.
Business Agility Helps You Master Change
Rather than merely responding to change, business agility makes you more proactive and enable you to make changes as necessary. Change can be something dreadful for an organization who has been practicing the same processes. Business agility helps you master change and use it as a toll to improve your business processes.
Business Agility Helps You Manage Risk
Organizations who are prepared for change are more capable of managing risks. Business agility brings better awareness among leaders making it possible to predict risks and create solutions before they happen. Planning for all risks and developing contingencies gives you the ability to respond to changes better. It helps you mitigate any negative effects and respond to these changes in a timelier manner.
Business agility requires constant monitoring of all external and internal factors affecting your business. This includes tracking the best practices to improve productivity. The Agile philosophy enables you to maximize all resources including time to finish as many tasks as possible with the littlest time. It allows you to focus your resources and helps you save lots of energy by prioritizing tasks. Careful planning also enables you to schedule tasks ahead of time, prioritizing the most important or most difficult tasks.
Agile Helps You Become More Resilient
Business agility makes your organization more resilient. By actively seeking out any possible risks, you are able to create contingencies. An organization needs to be ready for any changes and risks. They have to learn to compete and implement changes as the market dictates. By encouraging and accepting change, businesses will be more capable of addressing any current or future risks. Business agility helps organization create a sustainable advantage that helps them overcome future challenges.
Creates better-skilled teams
Agile encourages the creation of better-skilled teams who can handle different tasks. This involves uptraining or sharing skill sets between team members. By sharing skills and creating better working relationships between employees, an organization is better equipped to face the various challenges in the workplace. A new process for example may require new skills. Although it is possible to hire new employees, retraining employees is the more ideal route.
Team building activities can help build better relationships among employees. It allows them to learn more about their team members on a personal level. Workshops can also be an excellent way of building camaraderie among the company.
Adding Value and Reducing Waste
Agile philosophy does not only focus on developing new processes and strategies but also lets you improve existing ones. It lets you build on your strengths while introducing ways to make everything more efficient. Through constant monitoring on the latest changes in the industry, you can identify new production techniques and methodologies. Retraining your employees also helps bring additional value to the organization. Improving your employee’s skills sets translates to a workforce that is not only highly skilled but flexible in their roles. Organizations are also able to benefit from reduces production costs. It helps reduce waste, saving resources that can be used for other areas such as marketing and advertising.
One of the principles of being Agile is its focus on flexibility. Rather than working on a fixed timeframe and budget, the Agile process allows you to change processes as you deem necessary. This way when you identify that there is a better and cheaper way of doing things, Agile lets you make these changes. It lets you focus on the real value of projects; the quality of the product being produced while minimizing risks in the process.
Makes an Organization Become More Innovative
One of business agility’s strongest points is its ability to help organizations become more innovative. It does not only help you identify changes but encourages you to make innovations to your products and services. The most successful organizations are those that involve both management and its employees in developing new ideas to create better processes. Business agility promotes good relationships among everybody in the organization which is critical in achieving long-term success.
Business Agility – The Bottom Line
Fear of change, overconfidence, and ego are the biggest roadblocks to an organization embracing the concept of business agility. These negative traits are not only present in management but also a sentiment that is shared by its employees. Change often makes people insecure and uncomfortable.
However, the days of being complacent with your current processes is long gone. Today’s organizations must be able to embrace change and the challenges it brings. Traditional styles of command-and-control management and micromanagement must give way to a more adaptive management style is needed to fuel long-term success.