To stay afloat in an increasingly disruptive landscape, organisations are facing pressure to implement digital strategies that not only improve internal efficiencies but ultimately improve their route to market and market share. With the addition of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the updated Payment Service Directive (PSDII) due to come into effect next year, businesses are under pressure to meet complex regulatory requirements whilst needing to embrace disruptive technologies to stay current. To transition beyond simply surviving and seize the opportunity to thrive against tides of regulatory change, behaving in an agile manner will be vital. But how easy is it to live, breathe and run an agile organisation?
Business agility refers to adapting internal or external systems, products and services to react to change quickly and effectively. But to be truly agile, a company must be able to make changes to reduce speed to market and capture the market’s attention in a timely manner, without the need for a major upheaval of business processes and IT function across the board, no matter which sector. Essentially, agility addresses non-essential and time intensive processes by reducing or removing phases altogether. Helping companies meet customer demands and employee expectations while remaining compliant and driving innovation. Seems simple enough, right?
It’s all well and good understanding what it means to be agile, but incorporating the ‘agile’ mantra within the core of an organisation can be key for gaining a competitive edge in the market. The following checklist can be used for those stuck in the legacy rut to work in a more agile manner and come out on top:
Be bold, be brave
All aspects of an organisation need to adapt to new, faster and efficient ways to meet customer demand and market drivers. Business agility must be embraced as a philosophy across an entire organisation, not just individual departments, to reap the full benefits. Not only is it a management philosophy and approach that drives continuous learning and improvement to implement wider change, but it is a lean technique that must be used in a coherent and bold way.
To do so, businesses must have a high-level of self-awareness of their market position by having visibility and knowledge of how well they’re doing against competitors and in which areas competitors provide better products, services or solutions. Once positioning has been assessed, businesses leaders can reveal areas for improvement and the company’s growth strategy can be mapped out to be able to behave in a creative, instinctive and responsive manner.
It’s only possible to fulfil radical change if small scale incremental goals are set and achieved, as opposed to bigger long-term goals, which can be hard to measure and often defeating. Small incremental steps provide opportunities to stop, assess and review a project, to address issues and prevent errors before they become costly to fix. Technical requirements of any project must be nailed from the planning stage, with quality assurance prioritised throughout the process. If an error remains unseen until the closing stages, costs can spiral. In SQS’ experience the average cost of fixing an error early in the planning stages can cost up to 246 Euros, but can increase up to three times this cost in the BETA phases and a staggering 30 times the cost to fix an error once a system has gone live.
To do so, the use of best practices throughout an entire organisation is needed to align management and execution strategies, critical to scale, improve efficiencies and ensure compliancy. Once confidently implemented, this is the perfect foundation to leverage innovative automated tools to improve operational efficiency.
Be thorough and measure
To stop errors affecting an organisation’s journey to becoming agile, quality assurance practices must be prioritised to challenge and monitor progress, and ultimately highlight areas where the rapid incremental goals are working, but also where they’re falling short. A quality assured view can only be maintained by implementing best practices and setting bold targets with fast measurement and feedback. By adopting thought through, responsive and quality assured solutions business can act quickly and confidently with the reassurance they have the systems to support them. Once achieved, business leaders can be reassured that strategies are streamlined and a foundation has been set to leverage innovative solutions, such as automated technology, to further improve operational processes and ensure compliancy.
There are very few sectors that aren’t experiencing technical disruption of some sort and to survive, organisations must encourage practices that challenge tradition. An agile, responsive and creative ethos must be driven by the C-suite with the support of senior management to increase speed to market and overall customer satisfaction. An inclusive approach to creative ideas and collaborative working practices have previously been proven to deliver great results in disruptive times.
Ultimately, it’s up to senior management to guide business in the right direction and give employees the freedom to be creative. Employees are at the heart of the business and at the forefront of daily activity, they spend time talking to customers and developing the company’s offering. To encourage creativity, a culture of learning must be emphasised and employees must be equipped with the right tools to promote internal efficiencies. Only by encouraging a culture of continued learning and development can an organisation evolve.
Martin Hodgson is Executive Director of Management Consultancy at SQS