The Operational Agility Checklist: 7 Questions to Ask Your Organization

Perspectives
Mar 9, 2021
|
8 Min Read

The need to prepare for disruption has become a cliché in the business world. Last year required agility in a way that was due to come eventually, but sooner than anybody imagined. It is becoming even more of an imperative to prepare your organization for possible turbulence and changes. By focusing on becoming more operationally agile, your team will be able to make faster decisions, better utilize your existing technology investments, and adapt to inevitable change. 

The first question to ask yourself about your organization, then, is simple: Would your organization be able to survive disruption? 

If the answer to this is no, it is time to build out the right digital transformation capabilities, culture, and structures for increased operational agility. Organizations that are more operationally agile don’t simply survive disruption – they come out the other side thriving. And with the right rapid-cycle innovation capabilities, empowering your entire business beyond simply IT, you can shift these efforts into high gear at your organization. 

Operational agility is the ability of a company to flex and adapt its operations, technology and information to constantly evolving business requirements.

As you seek to build and flex your organization’s agile operational readinesshere are the key questions you can ask that will guide your efforts.

Is all of my leadership bought in?

Like most new initiatives, it is critical to have buy-in from leadership to set the tone for the business transformation associated with increasing operational agility.  “To support a true culture of innovation, you do need to set that culture from the top,” Quickbase CIO Deb Gildersleeve said.With leadership showcasing the value of increasing innovation throughout the entire organization, that commitment will be felt down through the entire organization and serve as a charge to succeed.

Does my team feel enabled to innovate?

From there, leaders have to effectively communicate to business users that they are empowered to innovate. To be effective, people across the business need to feel that they have the right tools and skills to innovate and make the changes they need to at their business. By clearly communicating the benefits of citizen development – such as faster response to change and those closest to certain processes being empowered to customize them to specific needs – teams across your organization will be itching to solve their business problems. While specific citizen developers usually have backgrounds in areas like business analysis, operations, and project management, anybody with a logical mindset and a business problem they’re aiming to solve should feel prepared and able to make an impact.

Are my business teams seeking to solve the problems they face every day?

It is just as important for business teams to fully understand the problems they face in order to solve them. Finding the right processes to automate and the departments that need the tools to make a difference is a major step towards strategic agility. Impres, for example, uses Quickbase as a central hub for its entire business, with sales, finance, marketing, and HR all leveraging the flexibility of Quickbase to simplify tasks and leave IT the resources to execute larger strategy. And when disruption comes, Impres will be able to leverage its no-code capabilities throughout the business to adapt and react.

Is IT facing a backlog of challenges?

One of the most common symptoms of an organization not equipped to change is an IT team that is stuck dealing with both large-scale transformation issues and smaller, day-to-day challenges that can take up immense amounts of time. Finding ways to open up time and optimize agile IT readiness can make a big impact on their effectiveness.  Harvard Business Review Analytic Services found that 69% of leading organizations are now leveraging a dual-track approach, instead empowering business users to make the rapid changes they see as critical to their work without needing to dedicate IT resources.

Are the right governance guardrails in place?

Users across the entire business will benefit from a clear outline of the right guardrails, so all users understand the structure and responsibilities behind adding an agility layer to your organization. IT will trust that business users are working within the guidelines (and, frankly, won’t break anything), especially when leaning on a platform that keeps control in their hands through roles, permissions, and more. Business users, on the other hand, will see clear definitions as to what their charge is. One strong option for these guardrails is a Center of Excellence model. By assigning cross-functional roles within a digital transformation project, teams across the organization will have visibility and be able to lay out clear goals and functions for operational agility. 

Is my tech stack up to the task?

Finally, equipping your organization with the right technology to build an agility layer will allow you to effectively put this culture and structure into action. A low-code/no-code development platform can serve as a bedrock of this strategy, enabling users to build and continuously improve business applications that make an impact. But further, it is just as important to ensure your tech stack will effectively integrate across your business to avoid information siloes and unite your data. Partnering with IT to create this effective tech stack will make a major difference on these efforts. 

Learn more about the critical nature of operational agility
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