Disruptive technologies and fast-paced startups, big data, robotics and the Internet of Things – they challenge all industries and businesses. Rather than fearing the change, it is important to embrace it. It is time to speed up the pace of innovation.
Changing working methods to a more agile approach can be the solution.
Learning from the IT industry
The digital revolution is not just applicable for computers and data. It has an impact in every sector, on working practices, consumer engagement, and business processes. Furthermore, it has led to the erosion of industry divisions and tougher competition. In order to survive as a business in the digital future, it is imperative to increase the pace of innovation and the development of more customer-oriented services. The agile approach to development used in the IT industry can be the solution if applied correctly.
The agile methodology assumes an iterative way of working. If a new service or product is to be developed, it should be implemented using small repeatable deliveries. To ensure the right quality and viability of the new service or product, continuous and extensive user testing is necessary. Feedback from the user testing provides the basis for learning and change. If a new service does not live up to users’ expectations and needs, it must be put up for revision or even terminated. This provides the basis for early change and customisation and enables success in the face of new competitive challenges. Making the right decision too late is far too costly.
Approaching service and product development in an agile way ties up less capital and gives the business the opportunity to launch products and services earlier than compared to traditional methods. This again improves revenue and cash flow.
Essentially it is about adopting a new way of working, and being willing to change and adapt that way of working according to feedback, shifts in environment, and changes in business.
What does an agile business look like?
In order to succeed with the agile approach, we suggest the three key steps
- The needs of the customer must come first. This should be the basis for all service and product development.
- Listen to and learn from customer feedback by establishing feedback loops in your organization all the way up to senior management and the board of directors. When managed correctly, this provides vital insight to the management’s vision and strategy processes and gives the opportunity to align it with the service development and the market in a quick and cost effective way.
- Prioritise and coordinate management and business development of all ongoing projects and activities across the company in order to avoid services and solutions that are not advantageous or are in conflict with each other. This ensures optimal use of resources, and ensures that everything is focused on the overall business goals..
Agile working practices are the responsibility of all
In order to embrace innovation while at the same time reduce risk and uncertainty, more dynamic work and development methods such as agile methodology should be adopted in the boardroom, by the management team and by the rest of the business.
This new way of working must permeate the entire company. To make the best products or services for the customer, establish a high level of collaboration throughout the entire organisation. Efficient management, reduced risk and lower capital spending are achieved through communication, coordination, prioritisation and distribution of decision-making authority and mandates.
Embrace a culture where it is acceptable to fail by celebrating the initiatives that fail early. It is through mistakes that you lay the foundation for finding the best solution. Failing due to undefined user needs and a long lead-time to the market is very costly. It makes sense to adjust and adapt in the short term in order to succeed in the long term.
In the age of digitisation, it is “the survival of the most agile” that matters.