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Staying agile as you grow – what your organisation needs to stay alive as you scale

Staying agile as you grow – what your organisation
needs to stay alive as you scale

As a large organisation, you’re no stranger to the challenges that come with increased size. Processes become drawn out, unmanaged risks creep into your decisions, siloes breed inefficiencies and bottlenecks. All of this adds up to an organisation that isn’t serving its customers in the best way. As it scales, it’s likely
to struggle under its own weight.

Delays, process failures, and stalled progress impact not just your customers, but also your employees. A clunky, underperforming organisation fosters unhappy workers whose voices are ignored. They struggle to find a reason to commit 100%, and your best people leave for new roles where their talents are appreciated.

When you’re a small company, these problems are manageable. But when you scale past 20 employees (into just a medium-sized business), they become so deeply entrenched it’s hard to dig through them to find solutions. These problems can bear down on you, transforming your organisation into a towering monolith that’s too bulky to pivot or to leap onto new opportunities. The more people you add, the harder it becomes.

In business, slow-moving organisations miss out to their more agile competitors.

If you want to eliminate these issues, your organisation has to become more agile.

But what does that even mean, and how do you achieve it?

What does it mean to be agile?

Aaron de Smet, principal at organisational design firm McKinsey, defines agility in business as ‘the ability of an organisation to renew itself, adapt, change quickly, and succeed in a rapidly-changing, ambiguous, turbulent environment’.

In a small company, it’s easy to be agile.

As you become more established, processes become lengthier, bureaucracy becomes heavier, and structures and silos make decision-making slower and harder to act upon.

There can also be a real fear that in order to be agile, you have to sacrifice stability.

According to De Smet, that’s absolutely not true. Agility requires a stable foundation within your organisation: An anchor point of things that don’t change. You use this point to springboard other things that constantly need to change.

To remain agile as a large business, you need to consider the following factors: Streamlining process, diminishing risk, rethinking decision-making, and creating feedback loops.

Streamlining admin processes

One of the reasons large organisations move so slowly is that clunky admin processes keep the company chained to outdated systems. These processes were often created when the company was small, and are ‘grandfathered in’ as you grow.

Manual processes that work when for small or medium-sized businesses become cumbersome in a large organisation.

The administration workload usually grows faster than other work as you accept new work requests (and sometimes those requests also become more involved). Manual entry and multiple handover points breed delays, bottlenecks, and errors.

This is why one of your first steps should be looking at ways to streamline your admin, and to eliminate inefficiencies.

CHIPS Property Trust had this exact problem. Their company was drowning in workflow efficiencies and lost paperwork. Their solution? We created a work order management system, streamlined their information handling, and gave them one platform that could serve as the single source of truth for
information within the company.

The result was incredible, enabling them to cut back on three full-time admin personnel to deal with the same workload. You can read more about how myFLO helped CHIPS, in their case study.

Diminishing the risk factors

As a large company, risk is a huge concern. The phrase “the bigger they are, the harder they fall” rings true here. You have more to lose than ever before.

However, there’s a flipside. Being afraid of placing the company at risk hamstrings your progress. No one wants to do anything differently in case it all goes wrong. Meanwhile, other, smaller, companies with less to risk are making inroads into your market. Their ability to be agile enables them to capture opportunities
you’re too afraid to pursue.

When we talk about running an agile business, we often discuss the Agile framework. This is a framework developed for fast-moving software development teams that lets them build, test, and ship product quickly, all while eliminating or minimising risks.

The Agile framework can be adopted across different industries and in various teams and organisations (not just software development). It creates the quick-thinking and fast-moving environment that marks a successful organisation.

One of the reasons the agile framework has become so popular across the tech world – and is rapidly spreading into large organisations like yours – is the fact that it enables a company to create small changes that can be implemented, tested, and adapted or adopted quickly.

Because you’re aiming small with small changes, the misses are usually small as well. According to Jason Albanese, a co-founder and CEO of Centric Digital, diminishing the risk factors with an agile system makes a company lighter on its feet. It gives it the ability to quickly shift and adapt as the market changes.

Retooling your decision-driven work

In many organisations, especially those that have adopted agile principles, teams are expected to stick to tight schedules and processes. However, it’s rare that these expectations flow on to the executive team.

It’s time to change that.

The decision-making process at a management level often looks like this: Executives sit in a room and talk, aided by emails, powerpoint presentations, politics and their own personal bias. Often this process goes on for so long that the initial purpose behind the decision gets lost, and a project or strategic direction morphs
into something else entirely.

In this process, there’s also little ownership or accountability for these decisions, and little chance (or encouragement) to learn from one’s mistakes.

To continue to grow and flourish, your executive team needs to adopt the same accountability for their decisions as they expect from everyone else in the organisation. That speed and adaptability that limits risk factors, which we discussed above, needs to apply across the whole organisation.

Create feedback loops

In order to be effective, people need to be learning and growing. In the same way, your company can learn from current and past experiments and ensure mistakes aren’t repeated and you’re doing the best to serve your market.

That’s why feedback is vital for the growing organisation. Instead of telling people what they need or want, you’ve got to ask them, and let them tell you how your solutions are working.

This feedback needs to emerge internally (from the team, managers, or subordinates), and externally (from the market, or market experts).

Feedback drives learning and can shape decisions going forward. Feedback also ensures your organisation prioritises decisions, processes, and offerings that function in the real world for a real market.

Serving your customers and giving them what they want is how an organisation remains relevant, and the best way to understand your customers is to provide that feedback loop.

The same is true for the performance of individuals and teams inside your organisation. Put the processes in place that will facilitate a free exchange of information on performance, results, and other metrics. Strive to take that information and use it to make things better.

You can learn about how to create an effective feedback loop with this feedback loop tutorial from GoConqr.

The need for a stable environment that can quickly adapt defines an agile business.

It’s these types of organisations that are leading their respective industries. They are finding new and better w ys to serve their customers, and weathering massive technological and social change with finesse and aplomb.

Creating agility means tearing down old, comfortable processes and systems and replacing them with new ones.

Change is scary, but it’s worth it to create an organisation that will grow to serve its market.

Our experts at myFLO work with people just like you to create faster, more efficient businesses that are highly adaptable. To find out how we can help you make your business unbeatable, talk to one of our one of our team members today.

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