Agility and speed – key ingredients for successful companies in a transforming world

Nobody would deny that the world is changing, this was and will always be the case. However, we experience that the magnitude and speed of change appear to be impressively high in recent years. As especially digitalization and digital transformation are relentlessly increasing speed. For companies that intend to stay ahead of the competition, speed and agility are crucial to be able to react quickly to changes in a fast-moving business environment. But what does being “agile” mean? In general, one can say a company is agile if it is able to react to changing requirements while delivering valuable results for its stakeholders at the same time. For example, this means that project goals are not pre-defined in detail, but that its specifications evolve throughout the project.

There are different agile practices and methods prevalent that are applied to replace the traditional approach (requirement -> design -> implement -> test) with an agile approach. Scrum or Kanban are amongst the most popular agile methods. However, there are a few components that they all have in common:

  • They are based on short iterations – in Scrum, this is called a Sprint. The goal is to deliver something valuable in a short period of 2 to 4 weeks. The intention is to gain experience with the lean prototype, to adjust the solution based on feedback, and to fail as early as possible before high investments are wasted.
  • They continuously integrate customer feedback which is another vital aspect they have in common. Typical agile practices in that respect are mock-ups or single features of a software that are presented to the customer/user.
  • They establish open work spaces, short daily team meetings (daily stand-ups) and visualize tasks on a physical or visual task board to support transparency and promote awareness of current project progress among all team members.
  • They foster cross-functional teams and close collaboration between all stakeholders.

It depends on the type of project which agile method may be appropriate for you. For highly innovative projects, Design Thinking is a suitable method. If the project is rather software related (e.g. enhancing and implementing a standard software), Scrum could be the right choice. The agile Stage-Gate-Prozess® is regarded as very beneficial for idea to outcome processes in various areas e.g. manufacturing of physical products, like the aerospace or automotive industry. Hence, there is no “one-size fits all” approach, but a general demand for adding more agility to project execution.

Our experience shows that only a few of the companies that we worked with use agile methods exactly as stated in literature, but instead tailor it towards their individual requirements. Thereby, the challenge is that on the one hand, the method needs to be tailored to the individual circumstances of the company (e.g. projects in validated environments), and on the other hand the method loses power by doing so and certain benefits are not realized.

Camelot helps customers reach their maximum degree of agility. We support them in overcoming the challenge by identifying requirements, finding the right method, and tailoring it towards their specific needs.

written by
Benedikt Schuhwerk
Benedikt Schuhwerk is currently working on his Master’s Thesis at CAMELOT Management Consultants with a focus is on agile approaches in regulated environments. He is a student of the master program Management, Communication & IT at the Management Center Innsbruck and provides entrepreneurial experience from his own start-up project (bicycle components) as well as professional experience by working in an international company as a team member of a cloud-based asset management solution project.

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