What To Expect From an Agile Enterprise
- March 08, 2022
Whether an individual or organization, agility is something we all want to achieve. It means whatever is thrown your way, you can respond quickly and successfully. In the business world, it can be the difference between being a market leader or laggard. Or, worse, out of business.
While agility has always been a goal of any business, the need for it really hit home in the spring of 2020. If agility wasn’t more than a goal for companies prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, they soon discovered why achieving enterprise agility is so important. Those that had implemented principles and practices to achieve it quickly leaped ahead of their competitors. In a world that had changed overnight, they were able to quickly address customer needs. The new norm sent employees home to work remotely and consumers needing new types of customer engagements. Agile enterprises were able to adapt; those only dreaming of it lost revenue and customers.
While many companies may have embraced agile methodologies within particular business units (primarily IT and Project Management), enterprises that embraced it throughout their entire organization are the ones able to quickly adjust to meet new challenges. In the retail industry, for example, enterprises that had embraced agile methodologies prior to 2020 saw a 7% higher growth rate than their competitors. After COVID-19 struck global economies, that number climbed to 75%. That’s why it is so surprising that only 9% of companies have embraced agile methodologies enterprise-wide, including departments from IT and marketing to finance and human resources.
What is important to the customer?
Agile methodologies were born approximately 20 years ago out of software companies’ inability to produce applications fast enough to keep up with demand. This lack of agility was reducing companies’ revenue and driving up costs. Until the advent of agile software development, the industry had been using what was called the Waterfall Model, so named because projects were divided into phases that were completed one at a time. When a phase was finished, the next began. It was a cascading approach to software development that had been used since the early 1970s. However, once a phase was completed, it was put to bed. Any changes required to a previously completed phase meant the entire project came to a screeching halt. There was not only a dam in the waterfall; it now needed to flow uphill.
Agile methodologies were created because of several glaring weaknesses in the Waterfall Model. Ultimately, though, it didn’t address what is most important — the customer. And because creating software was a slow and laborious process, customers’ needs may have changed by the time the software was released. It’s the polar opposite of agile.
Agile software development proved so successful that it was incorporated to complete projects and address initiatives in other business units. It makes sense, considering at the heart of Agile is that it tears down silos that separate departments and practices. No longer were projects assigned to single departments; they were collaborative efforts that delivered products to market sooner, saved costs and generated more revenue, and faster. At its core, it takes into account the lifeblood of a business — customers’ needs.
Organizations focusing on enterprise-wide agile methodologies enjoy agility in the following three areas.
While it is critically important to start with the customer in mind, remember that what the customer needs now may change tomorrow. Agile means breaking down projects into smaller, manageable tasks, so each can be completed faster. By focusing on people and collaboration rather than slow processes, agile solutions can be produced faster and are better aligned with what customers need now.
The very nature of agile is about the process and streamlining it, breaking down communications barriers and getting the right products and solutions to market faster. Moving from the Waterfall Method means adjustments and alterations can be easily made to address changing needs. The highly collaborative nature of agile means projects aren’t limited to single departments, but rely on cross-functional teams that can develop, test and deliver products and solutions faster and gain a competitive advantage.
By aligning teams that include business units outside IT, resultant solutions and products can deliver immediate value to customers. It’s the very reason companies that embraced enterprise agility successfully met the challenges that a global pandemic threw their way. With close collaboration between business units, organizations that have implemented agile methodologies enterprise-wide are better positioned to use low-code/no-code application platforms to address rapidly changing needs. By following guidelines and governance created by the IT team, citizen developers with little or no coding experience outside of IT can quickly and easily spin up applications in a fraction of the time.
Do what so many have done to achieve enterprise agility
There is no better example of digital transformation than achieving enterprise agility. Being able to quickly address rapid changes in the marketplace means introducing products faster, delivering a superior customer experience sooner and turning it all into revenue before the competition can keep up. That’s why turning to professionals like the enterprise agility experts at NTT DATA should be first on your to-do list. Learn more about how they can deliver agility to your organization.