Agile in the Service Industry
In the last 20 years, Agile has started to become increasingly popular in the business world and it is now a buzzword used in many situations. Although it originates in software development, and originally it was intended for IT teams, more and more organizations have seen Agile’s benefits and have started to implement this way of working into adjacent teams as well.
We’re now seeing people talking about Agile HR, Agile Marketing, or Agile Procurement. But what are they really all about? On a general note, it’s about embracing the Agile values and principles and adopting various Agile ways of working in their daily work. Indeed, in many cases, a bespoke framework like Scrum will not fit like a glove, but simple practices like daily stand-ups or visual radiators will work in any environment.
Agile HR relates to everything an HR department can do to integrate itself in an Agile organization. Typically, the relationship between Agile and HR is described in using two lenses:
- Agile for HR – How the HR department embraces the Agile ways of working in their projects or day to day work. There are HR teams that are successfully using Scrum in complex projects, such as redesigning the onboarding experience, or maybe Kanban in their usual processes, such as talent acquisition.
- HR for Agile – How the HR department will support the company’s Agile journey. Popular topics here may include redesigning the organizational structure, the compensation & benefits or performance management frameworks, or how to support the leaders of tomorrow, in the new organization.
Agile Marketing is the one who is drawing the most inspiration from software teams. Essentially, the way of working is quite similar, with self-organizing, cross functional teams working in small iterations, aiming to deliver value to the end user. Scrum is very popular, since it allows them to create many short experiments and generate fast feedback regarding their effectiveness, instead of the traditional “waterfall” way of running large campaigns.
Since Agile Marketing was first coined, in 2012, more and more marketing teams are running their projects, from simple campaigns, to very complex initiatives, in an Agile way.
Agile Procurement is a totally new approach to traditional procurement, used in complex situations. A good example would be an international sourcing process, where taking different cultures into account is very important. Since it was invented, it was successfully used in both public and private sectors.
Agile Procurement uses the traditional Lean and Agile principles and focuses on increasing the business value and the collaboration between people. In this approach, the lead time is drastically reduced, sometimes even to a matter of days, the most important customer problems are resolved first and the risk of selecting the wrong partner is minimized.
The main tool used in this process is the Lean Procurement Canvas, heavily inspired by the more known Business Model Canvas. This canvas is usually filled in a collaborative manner with the vendor, in a big room workshop taking 1 or 2 days. This allows for super fast decision making and reduces the whole process from a matter of months, to a matter of days.
Summing up, these are just three areas where the Agile values, principles and ways of working have been adapted and implemented successfully, but the list can continue. Being so versatile, Agile can be embraced in many more areas of the organization.