With the rise of remote work, artificial intelligence, and automation, modern businesses need to be prepared to meet new customer needs and seek out emerging opportunities in order to maintain a competitive advantage. Business agility refers to your ability to respond to market changes and thrive in a changing business environment.

Whether you’re planning a digital transformation of your entire organization or just want to streamline workflows, adopting agile practices can help you optimize your business model and improve your relationships with stakeholders and customers.

Here’s how to get started with agile business practices and how organizational agility can improve workplace productivity, problem-solving, and decision-making.

What Is Business Agility?

In a general sense, business agility refers to your flexibility and adaptability in the face of new business challenges and a changing business environment. More specifically, it can refer to the Agile framework, a project management methodology that’s primarily used in software development but can have applications in many organizations.

Agile culture revolves around cross-functional collaboration and flexibility. Rather than playing it safe, agile organizations embrace change and experimentation. For example, in Agile product development, agile teams use short development cycles so as to get customer feedback more quickly and integrate changes into the next iteration.

True business agility isn’t just about software development, though: It’s about bringing agile principles to every level of your organization.

Benefits of an Agile Mindset

The faster the world changes, the more business agility matters. Whether it’s adapting to new customer expectations or navigating the complexities of a pandemic, having an agile mindset allows your business to respond to market changes in real-time.

Here are three ways business agility can have an impact on your organization.

Improved customer experience

Agile businesses are customer-centric, which means that they’re attuned to customer needs and are able to incorporate customer feedback into their decision-making. Agile businesses can gain a competitive advantage by launching new products faster or simply having a better understanding of what customers are looking for.

Customer-centricity applies to your marketing, customer onboarding, customer support, and more. By digitizing the customer experience with a self-service portal, mobile app, and knowledge base, you can involve customers directly in your value stream.

Increased employee engagement

Customers aren’t the only ones who will benefit from your agile transformation. Agile ways of working support cross-functional collaboration and self-organizing teams. Agile teams have more flexibility in how they operate, giving team members a stake in the outcome and allowing them to take the initiative and implement new ideas.

For example, both Scrum and Lean product management involve short development cycles with multiple iterations, giving teams the ability to course-correct more easily. This means less time spent on tasks that don’t add value to your organization, and more employee engagement as teams collaborate between departments.

Better data management

Agile businesses use real-time data to inform their decisions, breaking down data silos and sharing information more readily between teams. For example, agile organizations can use claims analytics to gain more insight into business insurance claims.

Businesses that automate and digitize processes are more agile than those that don’t, since they can more easily respond to new customer needs and market conditions. By improving data collection and analysis across your organization, you can make better decisions and increase your organizational or enterprise agility.

6 Ways to Improve Business and Enterprise Agility

Business agility: entrepreneur talking to customers

Business agility looks different for every organization, and the best way to implement agile principles will depend on your industry and the size of your company. Small and mid-sized businesses, startups, and enterprises all have different ways of achieving business agility. Here are six ways to develop a more agile culture.

Encourage agile leadership

Agile leadership involves doing away with some of the top-down leadership practices of legacy organizations. Agile leaders give their team members more autonomy, allowing them to bring their own perspective to a project while working toward shared goals.

Even traditional leadership practices, such as performance management, can be made more agile. Instead of doing an annual performance review once per year, agile leaders can facilitate peer reviews and 360-degree feedback so employees get actionable and pragmatic feedback on their performance more frequently.

Remove organizational silos

Agile businesses take steps to remove organizational silos — both digital and cultural. The problem with data silos is that they keep information isolated from other datasets. This results in redundant or inaccessible databases spread across your organization, with no one on your team able to see the full picture.

By digitizing processes, businesses can reduce or eliminate these data silos and store information in a central location, such as a cloud-based human resources platform.

Support cross-functional collaboration

Organizational silos can also be cultural, as individual departments develop their own ways of doing things and fail to share resources and collaborate. Cross-team projects and interdepartmental collaboration can make businesses more agile by allowing for greater creativity and the exchange of ideas between departments.

Streamline employee onboarding

Automating the employee onboarding process can improve your enterprise agility by making it easier to hire new employees and introduce them to your company culture. Whether you need to scale up your team quickly or re-skill existing team members, employee onboarding automation saves time and standardizes the process.

Plus, you can use HR automation tools like an applicant tracking system (ATS) and a recruiting process flow chart to help you fill skills gaps more quickly.

Embrace flexibility

True business agility means embracing flexibility at the individual level as well as at the organizational level. Giving individual team members the autonomy to work remotely or set their own hours can increase work efficiency for your whole team.

Some team members may be eligible for a leave of absence or accommodation under employment law, while others may benefit from a generous parental leave or personal leave policy. Use a leave management system like Pulpstream to allow employees to submit leave of absence requests and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Invest in the right software

The tools you use at work can foster an agile mindset by simplifying your workflows and empowering employees. No-code tools in particular can allow all of your team members to participate in workflow automation, even those who don’t have any coding skills or IT experience. Simply drag-and-drop tasks to create your desired workflow.

Other software solutions that support business and enterprise agility include business process automation tools and workforce analytics.

Achieve Business Agility with Pulpstream

Entrepreneur smiling at an employee

Business agility refers to an organization’s ability to adapt to market changes and other industry challenges. A changing environment can catch legacy organizations off-guard, but businesses that can adapt to changes quickly have a competitive advantage over those that don’t. Businesses can foster an agile mindset by streamlining workflows, digitizing processes, and encouraging agile leadership at the project level.

Pulpstream fosters business agility with a customizable, cloud-based human resources platform. From automating the employee onboarding experience to streamlining project workflows, you can use Pulpstream to remove barriers to cross-functional collaboration and develop a more agile organizational structure.

Pulpstream’s drag-and-drop interface makes it easy for non-technical team members to use, while the customizable rule engine helps you ensure compliance with employment laws and other industry regulations.

Request a free demo today and learn how Pulpstream works in just 30 minutes!