Business Agility – Its Core Aspects, Importance and How to Achieve it
IT technology is rapidly evolving, and so are the organizations, who are dependent on it. Digitization has enabled today’s businesses to go global, and at the same time, it has forced them to stay dynamic and be ready to adapt to any changes at any given point of time. To survive and flourish in these fast-paced times, companies must embrace the philosophy of business agility in their day-to-day processes.
To understand what is business agility, here is a definition given by Business Agility Institute: “Business agility is a set of organizational capabilities, behaviours, and ways of working that affords the business the freedom, flexibility, and resilience to achieve its purpose. No matter what the future brings.”
Business agility concept advocates accelerating the core business processes and improving time-to-value. Agility may translate as purely increasing operational pace, but it is not all about that.
Following are the key aspects that equally contribute to the goal of achieving business agility:
Adaptability: It is the qualities of any process design that can be revised, changed, and include new strategies on the go. It is the opposite of a rigid structure or strategy that can adhere to new and sudden changes and may risk becoming obsolete. Business strategies must correlate with fast-changing requirements and be ready to go through multiple renovations and reinventions.
Customer-Centricity: There is a common factor visible in all agile businesses – they are all about the customers. Agile businesses understand that their customer success rate will define their business success. Business agility also conveys responsiveness to constantly emerging challenges and ever-changing circumstances, especially customer satisfaction management.
Cross-functional collaboration: Agile workplaces will naturally require a cross-functional collaborative workspace, where ideas from cross teams and departments come together, propagating innovation, and bringing fresh perspectives to achieve shared goals. To achieve business agility, closer collaborative ties must be forged within the organisation. At times, it is difficult to conclude within a team, imagine how difficult it can be to establish cross-functional collaboration? But that is one challenge organisations must work out to achieve agility.
How Business Agility Helps
Businesses are meant to help customers, and customer-centricity is a core value in the business agility philosophy. Customer-centricity ensures that no business efforts ever go in vain and should be applied to the right direction: towards greater customer satisfaction and business value.
Agile processes bring greater flexibility and adaptability, so organisations will no longer be stuck with bottlenecks. With the guidance of the most recent data, they can change course wherever required, increasing precision and time. Agile processes also remove internal barriers within organisations and create a cross-functional team that enables companies to achieve unprecedented productivity boosts. Also, to achieve a more agile business process, all communication barriers must be removed, so that collaboration can take place seamlessly.
Below are some actionable business agility tips that organisations can apply:
Communicate why business agility matters: People, in general, are resistant to any change. To bring business agility will require adapting to certain changes. Bringing this change in behaviour and processes in an organisation can be difficult, as there will be a prevalent lack of understanding and the natural tendency to resist change. This can be overcome with a clear communication process, explaining to the team why agility is important for the business and how it will benefit both the workers and the business in spelling success.
Encouraging collaboration in cross-functional teams: Agility requires continuous learning and collaboration in teams. Agile teams work cross-functionally, where members from all levels of an organisation are given equal collaboration equity to provide a 360 degree vision towards the end goal. Team members must be encouraged to get involved with an agile mindset, share ideas and increase engagement.
Ensure fast decision making and resource allocation: Fast-decision making is a core characteristic of an agile approach. However, many times, processes inside organisations are very rigid or require approval at multiple levels, which discourages fast-decision making or its implementation. Organisations must revise and review their workflow and eliminate any process that breeds lengthy approval cycles or complex procedures and protocols. The cost part of propelling any decision towards agility adoption must also be calculated.
Invest in technological advancement: Rome was not built in a day. Changing the existing infrastructure of any organisation cannot happen in a flash. It takes time, money, and strategy to implement and modify any process, even to bring business agility. Firstly, all existing bottlenecks in the organisation must be underscored, and strategies to eliminate those must be devised with the help of new generation technologies. Today, data is driving business agility and is the best tool around. Leveraging business intelligence (BI) and data analytics will give insights that will help in advancing the business agility strategy forward.
Choose a reliable partner: An external partner can come in handy in getting a fresh and alternative perspective in facilitating business agility adoption for an organisation. They can come with a bird-eye view of the organisation without any inherent biases that may occur to someone already inside the organisation. Again, it may require additional expertise in processes and technology to implement business agility, which the organisation may require to outsource. A business agility partner with reliable digital transformation expertise can guide an organisation throughout.
Agility is critical to any business that wants to thrive in today’s high-paced technology-dominated age. The foundation of digitization itself is agility and constant transformation. This impacts all aspects of businesses today, be it market, customer requirements, speed of delivery, supply chain, internal communication, and adaptability to change. Businesses will no longer afford to be complacent and static with their approach to all these aspects. Hence, agility must become the backbone of today’s organisations.
It takes time and effort to make any new change permanent. While incorporating agility, organisations must ensure to their team members that business agility is the best approach. The internal feedback and communication should also be seamless, and it should go both ways. There should be no impossible deadlines or pressure to achieve agility. It should be tried and tested until a suitable outcome is achieved.
(The author Mr.Vikas Bhonsle, CEO, Crayon Software Experts India and the views expressed in this article are his own)