Being agile takes a lot more than just technology

28 November 2019 3 min. read
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Technology is no longer the only means to being agile in the business environment, according to Myles Hopkins, a leading business agility strategist in South Africa. According to Hopkins, agility can originate from flexibility in the human resources (HR) or finance departments of an organisation, which is the way of the future.

Hopkins is the CEO of Johannesburg based business advisory firm Be Agile, which supports clients across South Africa with their transition towards agile operations. Hopkins operates in a South African economy where all business segments, big or small, are investing in innovative approaches to business to boost international competitiveness.

Part of the allure of agile operations is their role in boosting customer experience, which most experts have placed as a central differentiating factor in an increasingly uniform digital market. While most see the benefits, the approach to integrating agile has been varied across various business segments.

Larger firms and market leaders, for instance, have quickly joined the global wave of agile technology, turning to digital means to enhance their operational agility. According to Hopkins, while this is a useful tool to make operations more agile, it is not a foolproof path to success.

Being agile takes a lot more than just technology

Speaking on the reliance on technology, Hopkins said, “I call this ‘doing agile’ instead of ‘being agile,” adding that “an enterprise can only be as agile as its least agile department. This means key departments like HR and finance need to transform and enable agility across the organisation.”

Agility in the HR space is crucial when considering the central role that people play in any organisation. Hopkins reiterates the need for HR to shed its previous conceptions of being an administrative entity and become a driver of organisational strategy and innovation.“ HR underpins transformation by creating an environment conducive to change,” said Hopkins.

Going forth, Hopkins predicts that the finance segment is also likely to become involved in promoting organisational agility. “I believe agile finance is the next hot topic in the business world, because you can’t have agile development held up by an inflexible budget cycle. Instead of annual budgets, we will start to see budgets that support agile product development. If projects have to be scrapped and new ones undertaken in line with changing market conditions, budgets have to be designed to support this in future.”

Another change that Hopkins advocates is a shift in the mindset amongst business leaders from one of hierarchy and control to one of openness and creativity. Solutions can come from any rung of an organisations, and leadership must enable new ideas to remain agile.