Business Agility: What Is It & Why Is It Important?


Today’s hyper-competitive world can be a tough place for many businesses. Large companies are always looking to produce better products while reducing costs, customers’ needs evolve and the world economy fluctuates at large. In a sentence, your business will face many threats. But how do you survive? Business agility.

A successful business knows when to bend, pivot and change to accommodate forces more powerful than itself, a process that requires business agility. Business agility can be used to adjust to market changes in addition to internal business changes.

What Is Business Agility?

Business agility refers to the company’s ability to quickly adapt to changes and fluctuations in its business environment. The faster a company can adjust its business strategy, the higher its business agility.

Business agility is an organizational method to help businesses adapt quickly to market changes that are either external or internal. If a business is set up to respond rapidly and with the flexibility to meet customer demands, they’re more likely to thrive and keep those customers.

Project management software can help you keep your ear to the ground and respond quickly to changes in the market. ProjectManager is project management software with real-time data to monitor and track progress and performance. Our live dashboard automatically captures several metrics and displays them in easy-to-read graphs and charts. This data access gives you a high-level view of your work to quickly capture market fluctuations. Unlike lightweight tools, there’s no setup required and we’re ready when you are. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

ProjectManager's dashboard view
ProjectManager’s dashboard monitors real-time data and tracks six project metrics. Learn more

Origins of Business Agility

The history of business agility as a concept begins with software development. It’s part of the agile framework that originated as a means to address the problems of changing requirements and uncertain outcomes due to the complexity of the technological project. The complexity of systems also lent itself to a fast-changing environment. The agile framework was developed to take advantage of the ever-changing project environments.

Some business agility ideas stem from the study of complexity science and the notion of complex adaptive systems, where a perfect understanding of the parts involved in a process doesn’t translate into a perfect understanding of the entire system’s behavior. The outcomes for software teams in such complex adaptive systems are unpredictable but eventually form a recognizable pattern.

Business Agility Framework

Taking the agile framework and applying it to business agility creates a tool that serves businesses of all types and sizes. It makes businesses more responsive to evolving customer and market needs. The business agility framework is exactly what businesses need in the dynamic, demanding and resource-scarce world.

Related: 10 Resource Allocation Tips for Managers

Business agility demystifies business change and provides a simple and effective framework to respond to it. Business agility can help you maneuver market change, adapt products and services or map a successful route to launch something new.

Let’s review the three most fundamental elements of a business agility framework.

1. Business Agility Principles

There aren’t any agreed-upon business agility principles. However, it’s important that you create your own business agility principles as they play an important role in your business agility framework. These principles will guide both your team and the business agility value stream, so they’re critical for success.

To get started, you can review the original agile project management principles and lean manufacturing principles to create some for your company.

2. Business Agility Value Stream

The term business agility value stream refers to the sequence of steps that are required to quickly respond to an emerging opportunity or threat. Here are the main steps of a typical business agility value stream:

  1. Identify a business opportunity
  2. Conduct market research to find out what’s valuable to users
  3. Create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
  4. Deliver a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
  5. Choose whether to pivot or to persevere with the product
  6. Deliver value continuously

As you can see, business agility is about creating a minimum viable product that can be quickly produced and refined based on customer feedback. This allows for faster and better development, as opposed to traditional product development, where rigid phases are defined and the process is much slower.

3. Business Agility Team

Your team members are the ones who execute tasks, so it’s important that you review their skills and capabilities to make sure they’re a good fit for a business agility team. Remember to assemble diverse, cross-functional teams that can communicate with different areas and business units, as they’ll be pushing for company-wide changes.

How to Be Agile in Business

At the center of any business, agility framework is innovation. People make change happen, not processes. This means you must engage the right people at the right time and in the right way. Give them clear, concise, customer-centric goals and promote self-organized communications and collaboration among your team.

Once a change has occurred, the first step is having the vision and goals to drive the response. This includes establishing the business justification for the response and the leadership to drive it.

Next, establish a list of what the business needs to do, how it’ll do it and determine the appropriate organization and governance to structure and oversee that process.

All of this leads to your innovation hub, which is composed of the people who execute the plan and oversee its success. These people should work within an agile framework that’s iterative, incremental and collaborative.

Foundations of Business Agility

As noted earlier, business agility can also give businesses a competitive edge. Using this framework, a business can outlearn and outperform its competition while attracting passionate people who excel in the empowered environment of business agility.

Again, business agility provides companies with the ability to deliver fast and respond quickly. Businesses can offer a great customer experience by organizing and learning rapidly. This is founded on a lean execution that responds immediately to feedback without sacrificing quality.

Business agility creates innovation and is disruptive; in a climate of corporate takeovers and declining returns on investments, businesses can produce higher returns and maintain consistency. This is done by understanding change, adapting quickly and optimizing the variables to drive success.

The business world is only getting more volatile, uncertain and complex, but business agility is a way to successfully endure some of that ambiguity. The idea that a business can remain static and survive has never been true. Business agility provides the tools to pivot and remains necessary to customers and changing market needs.

The more successful businesses apply this to their leadership roles as well. Managers that are best suited for business agility are ones who can set up collaborative spaces where teams are self-organizing and collaborative, so they can adapt more quickly to changes, while under the stewardship of their leaders.

How ProjectManager Helps With Business Agility

ProjectManager is project management software that helps organize, plan and report on business agility. Our collaborative platform connects departments through multiple project views that allow teams to work how they choose. As a result, you and your teams work from one source of truth, which creates greater efficiency.

Plan on Interactive Gantt Charts

Once you see an opportunity or have to respond to a change in the market, you’ll need a detailed plan. Our online Gantt charts help you organize tasks and teams, link dependencies and create milestones. You can even filter for the critical path. Assign tasks to team members and share plans with stakeholders to keep them updated. Once your schedule is finished, set a baseline to monitor your planned effort against your actual effort and stay on track.

A screenshot of a gantt chart in ProjectManager

Manage Resources When Executing Your Plan

To make sure you and your team stay on track, you have to not only monitor progress and performance but manage resources. We have resource management tools that track your costs in real time. Our workload chart shows you how busy your team is, allowing you to balance their workload directly from the chart to keep them busy but not overworked.

ProjectManager's workload chart to help balance team workload

Having online software is key to business agility and acting swiftly when needed. It can be hard to pivot quickly, but when everyone is connected and shares the same real-time data, these changes are more efficient. For optimal success, you need project management software that aligns with your task management, timesheets and more.

When you’re working to adapt quickly to change, you must know when it occurs. That calls for tools that can give you the most current information possible, so your response is correct. ProjectManager is project management software with real-time data feeding its dashboard. When something happens, you see it first and can lead the change, instead of having the change lead you. See how it can help you with business agility by taking this free 30-day trial.