Being "Agile": What does it mean?
3 min read
11 September 2015
The term "Agile" is creeping into everyday business language, but what does it mean? And why should it matter to you?
In today’s business environment, innovation has never been more critical to the success or failure of a business.
For many forward-thinking companies, innovation goes hand-in-hand with Agile. Agile is most certainly a term creeping into everyday business language: but what does it mean?
The term Agile is one which has predominantly been used within IT departments – but as businesses grow, change, and adapt to the climate, we are beginning to see more and more Agile methodologies adopted across HR and Marketing departments and running through entire organisations throughout.
A business that undergoes an Agile transformation becomes one that can respond, adapt and change reactively without losing its vision towards the end goal.
Adopting Agile methodologies is key to keeping businesses momentum moving to counter growing competitor activity – this may be bringing new products to market quicker than rivals, or implementing new business or marketing strategies.
The latest research from Forrester reveals that in the last two years, the number of companies using Agile to create more value at a quicker pace has doubled – however, still only one in three firms are currently using Agile techniques.
How can a business become Agile?
Agile can fall into two categories: it can refer to the software that you use to develop products in incrementally short iterations, or a change of mind set and company culture to improve team efficiency and collaboration.
The first approach allows for faster feedback to ensure that when building and creating products for market, changes can be identified quicker in order to respond to customer needs – in contrast to more traditional approaches where a large amount of upfront planning occurs. An Agile approach makes use of continuous planning and prioritisation of requirements.
The second tactic in using Agile is a way of placing emphasis on empowering teams to communicate, self-organise and collaborate in order to deliver the best possible solutions, again using continuous planning and learning, to ensure that processes are constantly improved.
Read more about your business using “Agile” development:
- 5 ways to ensure SME project management success
- Can any company act like a startup?
- 3 trends shaping today’s workplace
By embracing these techniques, an organisations traditional way of thinking can change indefinitely with an enhanced culture of collaboration and persistence for constant, critical feedback from teams.
By breaking down functional silos and minimising dependences, channels of communication become more transparent – resulting in time for teams to reflect, learn from and quickly adapt.
Above all though, Agile is about scaling and coordinating your teams and in-house processes to deliver better value at a faster rate. Improving areas of productivity, quality and responsiveness allows better insights and will ultimately increase innovation.
Andrew Sales is agile coach (EMEA) at Rally.