Shifting to a more agile approach pays off
Nothing is quite like the satisfaction of your team achieving its business goals. At the same time, uncertainty and risk are constants in our complex and ambiguous world. Our successes are often short-lived as we pivot to focus on the next challenge.
Agility — in company structure, processes, and culture — can enable such quick adjustments. Its butterfly effect throughout the organization: faster and flexible responses to customer needs, increased commitment to innovation and quality, and stronger competitive advantage.
One of the things that makes Cinq successful is our commitment to business agility and agile teams. Our people-centric approach both improves the development of professionals and also generates a high sense of purpose, raising the levels of motivation and engagement of our teams. “Highly engaged people in a collaborative and learning-focused environment are key for any successful Agile approach” (Fernando Ultremare, CTO at Cinq, for Nearshore Americas).
Taking a step toward shifting your approach
It’s reasonable to expect that we will have some control over our projects. As humans, it’s natural to feel a need to plan for and control circumstances. But since we can’t control or even foresee all of any project’s variables, taking an inflexible long view can backfire.
Instead, teams can accept that unforeseen changes can come from any direction at any time. Both leadership and employees can be thoughtful about how to prepare for those changes, rather than focusing on how to fight them.
Embracing the curveballs can become part of the challenge of executing a project, which can create bonds that motivate people to innovate and support each other with enthusiasm. It’s the beginning of a cultural shift.
Similarities in business culture and work styles enable quality interactions between the U.S. and Latin America. At Cinq, we used to say that we take our clients beyond the code, meaning that we employ a proactive, consultative approach to engage our clients.
Agility works outside of software development
It’s no wonder that the concept of business agility first took hold in software development. Building complex systems in a changing environment requires adapting to shifts in market conditions, the competitive landscape, and consumer behavior — and those are just a few external factors. Internally, changes in organizational leadership, strategy, and technologies can change any project’s requirements midstream.
Moreover, a key principle of development is that proper function of individual parts does not necessarily imply that the whole system will work perfectly. It’s important to understand how a change in a single function can influence all others.
Considering this principle in the context of business agility, one innovative area can affect others. Under traditional business models and cultures, a single area can either boost or drag down profitability for a whole business unit and beyond.
An agile organization, though, can shift priorities quickly to make progress on initiatives that have fewer roadblocks, leaving other areas more time to adapt and find their clear path forward. Rather than impact a customer relationship and post-sales follow-up, a company’s ability to juggle projects with agility can enable its teams to provide more consistent and responsive service.
Transform the way you respond to change
How can businesses adapt to change more easily, without losing productivity or focus? The answers aren’t simple. Every company’s path and speed toward agility is different, depending on the organization’s digital maturity.
Generally, the areas of transformation are:
- structure changes that eliminate organizational silos and develop multidisciplinary efforts;
- shifting processes to automate and trim unnecessary layers of bureaucracy;
- converting culture so that departments are aligned, with a high capacity to relate and share information.
Streamline communication and processes
Most steps in the shift toward agility involve people. Collaboration, for example, does not fit well under a traditional hierarchical approach, but it’s the way employees will become invested in the change. Everyone needs to feel like they’re part of the process and involved in building the brand.
We co-create with our clients to find the best strategy for their solutions. In this way, Cinq developed a robust and flexible e-commerce platform for Empiricus. Before writing any code, Cinq’s team carried out a two-week immersion at Empiricus. Developers and UX (user experience) specialists spoke with people from all areas of the company to identify the biggest pain points and difficulties, and to ensure understanding of the project needs.
Communication is key — training, guidance, and a clear structure are necessary for success. Hitting the sweet spot of not too much and not too little will prevent employees from feeling suffocated or frustrated. What’s more, when people understand their company’s goals, they’ll feel more engaged, satisfied, and valued.
Reviewing and updating processes is a critical step in becoming more agile. Outdated, bureaucratic procedures can undermine the implementation of business agility. Instead of layered, complicated processes, execution responsibilities need to be shared and roles defined. With that clarity, teams can commit and work to achieve maximum synergy.
Supporting organizational change is key
Agility sounds like an obvious choice. So why doesn’t every company adopt such an approach?
Adjusting processes, tools, and structure is relatively easy — on paper. The difficult part is combining those elements with the necessary organizational change.
Often, companies are comfortable capitalizing on opportunities using the same long-term, tried-and-true approaches, with as little risk as possible. This methodology doesn’t rock the boat, so it’s comfortable for leadership, employees, and maybe even customers. The downside is that avoiding change may also mean forgoing growth.
However, increasing agility requires taking risks. It’s true for individual employees, project teams, and the organization as a whole. To change, everyone needs to be willing to fail, trusting that they’ll have the necessary ability and support to right the ship before any real damage is done.
Alelo needed a partner that brought an innovative vision with professionals that were responsible and multidisciplinary, and could be adaptable and reliable when working alongside Alelo’s development team. Cinq met these requirements. The partnership between Alelo and Cinq combined technical and business expertise, growth and innovation, and met the challenge of delivering the new platform and site within a tight deadline: six months.
It’s worthwhile to create a culture that proves it’s a safe place for trying new things, even if they don’t work. When a company prioritizes that freedom, then the question is how to balance it with the necessary productivity and profitable delivery. After all, no one wants to keep making mistakes, especially if it compromises the company’s success.
Increasing agility is worth the investment
It’s easy to cherry-pick and implement a few changes on the road to agility and assume you’ve made the shift. However, while a company may see some benefits, applying digital transformation efforts in only a few departments or critical sectors won’t deliver a substantial increase in value to the customer. And of course, adding value is how every business attracts customers. Accepting change — and shifting the organization’s structure, processes, and culture — is a smart and strategic move.