Friday, September 25, 2015

Agile Business Transformation—Internal Factors

Business Structure
Structural flexibility of a business is its ability to change internally so as to respond to external pressures. The structural model of the business needs to be flexible enough to allow it to respond to external demands. The global economic downturn came down upon businesses without much warning. A flexible business model and associated Agile corporate culture can become capable of handling such sudden external changes. Accompanying the need for structural flexibility of business is the need for the underpinning systems (e.g., HR; customer relationship management, CRM) to facilitate such nimbleness. Communications technologies remove duplication of activities, eliminate redundant activities, merge manual processes with electronic and mobile processes, and improve the overall process flow within and across the organization (Unhelkar et al., 2009). ABT integrates these technologies and tools with processes and people, thus paving the path for a flexible business structure.

Business Innovation
Business innovation can be considered as the ability of a business to creatively generate new products and services, come up with innovative ways of handling the competition, and prioritize its risks. An Agile business creates many opportunities within itself to be creative and innovative. Enabling innovative approach to business often calls for changes in business practices, business operations, and business culture (Murugesan and Unhelkar, 2004) These changes are facilitated in Agile adoption. Agility understands the type of business, the domain in which it exists, its available resources, and its strengths and weaknesses, as well as a supportive culture. Conversely, the need to foster an innovative culture is also high in ABT, which enables people to experiment with processes and technologies to improve and optimize them.

Business Compliance
Business compliance is the need for the business to develop capabilities to meet regulatory compliances. The external demands for government and regulatory requirements alluded to earlier need to be satisfied by businesses by internally reorganizing itself. An Agile internal business structure is able to respond easily to ever-changing legislation. Consider, for example, the Sarbanes–Oxley (SOX) legislation. This legislation provides protection from fraudulent practices to shareholders and the general public and, at the same time, also pins the responsibility for internal controls and financial reporting on the chief executive officer (CEO) and the chief financial officer (CFO) of the company (Raisinghani and Unhelkar, 2007). Agile transformation aims to enable the business to carry out this accountability and responsibility through changes in the internal processes, updating of ICT-based systems to enable accurate collection and timely reporting of business data, and changes in the attitude and practices of senior management. Another example of the need for the business to comply is the rapid implementation of regulations related to carbon emissions. This legislation requires businesses to update and implement their carbon collection procedures, analysis, control, audit, and internal and external reporting.

Technology Management
Technology management in Agile adoption involves handling the changes to underlying technologies that support the business and its processes. Challenges in managing technologies include changes to the wired and wireless networks, service-oriented applications, distributed data warehouses, and complexities of security as the organization transforms to Agile. Businesses rightfully aim to capitalize on the connectivity accorded by the ubiquitous Internet (Arunatileka and Ginige, 2003a; Ginige, 2002). This ICT-based communication results in an enhanced customer experience and improved internal business efficiency (Deitel et al., 2001). For example, an Agile organization will want to provide services to a customer at his/her location. This change will require the organization to move its customer service processes on mobile networks. Corresponding data relating to the customer has to also change to accommodate mobile contents.
Agile transformation requires the business to be prepared for this technological surge that will put pressure on its architecture, its structure, and its operations. Information and communication technologies increase the interdependence of businesses on each other. The need for the management of technologies in a holistic manner is justified because of the extensive intertwining of business with ICT.

People Management
Adopting Agility impacts the people within an organization. Managing the employees and other contract staff within an organization, keeping up their motivation, and keeping them abreast of the changes are crucial ingredients of successful Agile adoption. In adopting Agile across the organization, careful attention needs to be given to the career aspirations of individuals, their personal job satisfaction criteria, and their attitude toward agility. Large global organizations employ people in numerous ways including permanent employment, contract labor, and consulting/advisory roles. The approach to each of these engagements differs when Agile is adopted as an organizational culture. For example, a permanent employee will be interested in finding out what happens to his next promotion if the tasks to be performed are "shared". The contract employee may be happy to share tasks but would like to index his contract rates to quality and time. The HR systems and processes supporting these engagements need to be flexible and capable of handling these differences and the changing scenarios. ABT investigates, updates, and ensures a flexible approach to resourcing people, managing them, motivating them, and enabling them to provide their best to the organization and its customers.

Product Management
Product management refers to the need to produce new products and services and to continue to produce existing products with improved parameters (such as time and cost). Agility changes the way the organization captures data related to products, analyzes them, and incorporates the output into product development and deployment. For example, an Agile organization will eschew long-winded analysis of product feedback, but, instead directly collaborate with the customer to derive an instantaneous update on product feedback. This information is immediately made available to the decision makers through Internet-enabled collaborative systems. The processes leading up to product development change and so also the supporting ICT systems, when Agility is adopted across the organization. While the organization develops consistency across its various product lines and its development and deployment activities, collaborative Agile also offers opportunity for "mass customization" (i.e., the ability to produce customized products for each customer but on a mass-production scale). This occurs in an Agile organization because of reduced touch points during a production process. Disposal of used products and withdrawal of a product line in a timely and coordinated manner are also a part of product management. The new Agile organization has a Lean inventory, reduced paperwork, and continuous change incorporated in its product life cycle management (PLM).

Taken from : The Art of Agile Practice: A Composite Approach for Projects and Organizations

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