Greater agility should go beyond technology and project management

By Kaustav Chatterjee, Director of Product Engineering at Tecnotree.

  • Wednesday, 29th November 2023 Posted 3 months ago in by Phil Alsop

Agility has become a common phrase in today's business. Despite its possible overuse, its increased prevalence signifies the growing understanding that a company's ability to function flexibly, pivot to new processes or priorities that mirror market or consumer trends, and rapidly and efficiently make intelligent, strategic choices is vital in today's competitive business sphere. Leveraging digital transformation to gain a competitive edge often requires adapting the company's operational model. An agile business can achieve this through consistent, iterative advancements towards its goals.

While the agile methodology is already deeply ingrained within most companies’ technology and project management teams, this approach is just as valuable when applied across the entire organisational level. If executed effectively, it can deliver an improvement of 30% in employee engagement, which inevitably leads to better business outputs.

Despite its benefits, 77% of organisations have still not implemented Agile in all the company’s teams, clearly showing that full adoption is still a work in progress. But with rapid technological advancements, can organisations afford to wait?

Achieving true success in the agile approach

Failure is an essential part of the process in an agile environment and digital transformation. Organisations must embrace failure, learn from past mistakes in strategy and execution, and assess whether this approach achieves the desired results. Indeed, failure is a valuable aspect of digital transformation in organisations, which requires innovative thinking and thrives on a culture of experimentation. Companies must understand that failure is part and parcel of growth and should not be avoided at all costs.

The ability of businesses to quickly adjust to shifting market conditions and customer demands is a significant driver of the digital revolution. Agility enables firms to react more swiftly to market opportunities, test and iterate on new products and services more effectively, and launch novel concepts more quickly. However, a true commitment to business agility often requires significant changes to an organisation's culture, leadership, structure, and technology, as well as the development of new skills and capabilities.

Technical practices - These are the practical tools and techniques engineering teams, management, and leadership use to deliver customer value quickly and incrementally. By adopting technical methods that embrace change and flexibility, organisations can better respond to the diverse needs of their customers.

Business systems - Agile/nimble business systems enable managers and leadership to make quick decisions and support prioritising work that delivers customer and business value.

Culture - An agile/nimble organisation supports the ability to adapt to changes as they come, and the embedded culture places a high value on being transparent and realistic. Above all, these cultures focus on delivering business value to the customer. An agile business usually will have fully engaged and self-organised teams with motivated team members who collaborate in real time.

Leadership – Visionary leadership that can remove obstacles in the path of creating customer value is the hallmark of an agile organisation. Leadership should also foster the underlying principles of clear and open communication and transparency in action.

Practical steps to developing an agile business

Emerging business environments will continue to test the organisational ability to respond quickly, innovate, and adapt in the face of fast-moving change. An organisation that embraces agility has a clear pathway to define a more flexible, adaptive, and beneficial environment for businesses, partners, and customers. As a result, organisations must have a clear focus on certain key areas for driving agility in digital transformation:

· Develop a solid strategic plan that outlines their goals and transformation needs, timeframe, budget, and proposed solutions;

· Propose a suitable architecture with the right technology set for the transformation, especially in the age of converged infrastructure, cloud computing and AI;

· Create a change management strategy which is reviewed and validated from an end-customer perspective;

· Follow established development and operational practices like Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment, cybersecurity practices and secure programming models and a collaborative development model with ‘no silos’;

· Ensure senior management participation in the ‘agile mindset’ process, which is critical to the success of the engineering and IT transformational efforts;

· Review and assess the progress regularly to make any necessary adjustments the organisation deems fit.

With the evolving nature of the marketplace, organisations will inevitably undergo change. To stay ahead, organisations must remain alert, incorporate state-of-the-art technology, and promote continuous technological education. They must dedicate themselves to persistent digital transformation, even revisiting and redefining their enterprise structures multiple times.

However, effectively executing a digital transformation requires strong leadership, talent, partnerships, and the cultivation of an agile and adaptive mindset. Organisations and IT departments must drive agile practices as a clear pathway to define a more flexible, adaptive, and beneficial environment for businesses, partners, and customers. By doing so, they can stay ahead of the curve and maintain competitiveness amidst a fluctuating business environment.