7 Ways Your Company Can Improve Agility

Getting Ahead of an Ever-Changing Landscape

Times are tough. Not only is the world caught in the midst of a pandemic, but there are also more and more companies and people struggling for the attention of consumers and other businesses. That means you must ensure your company is doing everything possible to not only be seen but be viable in an ever-changing landscape.

To do that, your company must be agile.

What does that even mean?

In the simplest terms, agility in business is the ability of a company to quickly and effortlessly adapt to market changes. Given the situation the world has been in over the past years, the market has been in a constant state of shifting. Those companies that have remained stoic and steadfast have probably struggled to keep up.

On the contrary, businesses that have discovered new-found agility have most likely been able to navigate these uncertain waters with a significant level of success. 

You can be one of those companies. But it’ll take some effort on your part to pivot to a more agile way of thinking. How can you make this a reality for your business? Let’s take a look at some of the things you can do to infuse your company with agility.

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Value the Right Metrics

Businesses are in love with metrics, so much so they go to great lengths to scrape and collect data from every source possible. From that data they can draw various types of conclusions: where their customers are coming from, who they are, and what they want, what sells and what doesn’t, where trends are heading, how their staff performed, and how their business performed against the competition. There’s no end to the depths of information that can be gleaned from a data dump.

Problem is, many companies use that information as a way to celebrate their victories. And that’s great, but not when there’s more important information to be had. Instead of only looking into what’s going right, you should be looking at what’s going wrong. Although that information might frighten your shareholders, it will help you draw some very important conclusions about how your company needs to pivot. 

You might find that your website is drastically underperforming. The data might conclude it’s time to modernize that website with the help of some new developer blood for an aging team that could use some JavaScript, .NET, Python, or React. Without viewing the right metrics, you’d never have known how poorly your website is performing. With the right data, however, you can retool your site such that it better conforms to modern users. That’s agile.

Shift to Containers

If your company is still focusing on the standard method of rolling out applications and services, you are already behind the curve. Large enterprise businesses have been deploying containerized applications and services for some time.

Why? Because containers make it possible for your developers to very quickly shift how those applications and services function. Not only that, but containers (especially those deployed into a Kubernetes cluster) can scale up and down with an ease standard applications can’t match. In fact, it’s possible to deploy containers to a cluster such that they will automatically handle that scaling without intervention.

If you’re looking for the fastest route to agility, containers might be your best, first step.

Think Big but Make Small Moves

One of the biggest hurdles to agility is trying to make large shifts. Those big moves are great, but only when done annually or bi-annually. It’s the little moves between those tectonic shifts that make you agile.

To that end, you need to make a concentrated effort to develop small pivots to keep your businesses constantly moving. Those small moves, however, should align with the bigger picture you’ve laid out, but not to the extent that they prevent you from adapting to market trends. If you find your big picture no longer applies to where the market has shifted, you’ll probably find yourself retooling that grand design. 

But even that can be a trap. Remember, trends are fickle and always changing. Don’t let a blip in the market cause you to panic and completely shift your business. Stay true to your big vision, but allow daily or weekly insights to influence the refinements you make.

Fewer, More Important Priorities

Along with those small moves, you should consider retooling your priorities. It’s very easy to place a high level of importance on big-ticket issues. Unfortunately, those particular issues don’t usually lend themselves to being agile.

Instead, you should pare down your priorities such that they are fewer and more important. For example, instead of prioritizing the building and rebranding of your website, prioritize making your site more mobile-friendly. That smaller priority will make your company much more agile (as opposed to the larger priority of rebuilding your website as a whole).

Automate, Automate, Automate

Automation is another very effective route to agility. The one caveat to automation is that it does take considerable work to get integrated into your various pipelines. You will also need developers capable of working with Python and machine learning

But once you get automation built in, your company can start employing CI/CD (Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment), which can deliver levels of agility you’ve never seen before.

Plan for the Unexpected

Expect the unexpected. It’s very easy to get grounded in the routine and assume the routine will always be there. Thing is, with today’s ever-changing business landscape, the unexpected has become the norm. If you’re not planning for that which you might assume you can’t plan for, your business can’t be agile.

So instead, hold regular meetings with everyone involved in your business planning such that you can create scenarios for the unexpected, and how your business can adapt.

Recruit Dynamic Developers

Finally, your company should recruit dynamic engineers. Instead of hiring developers who have mastered a single language, find those who can work with multiple languages, multiple frameworks, and who understand the concept of agility. Your developers should have a strong grasp on modern website design, how to boost website engagement, how QA works, and how to integrate artificial intelligence into your software.

With a team of dynamic developers, your company will be able to pivot quickly and successfully.

Conclusion

This list isn’t exhaustive, and everything might not apply to your needs. However, this should serve as a roadmap to get you started on making the shift from the traditional method of doing business to one that is more agile and adaptive. 

If you’re stuck in that old-school rut, you run the risk of watching how the business you built from the ground up fails. With a bit of determination and work, you can make the shift to a more modern path.

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