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Triple Agility prepares organizations for true flexibility

The corona pandemic meant dull misery for many companies, but it also brought clarity. I recently participated in a round table with Techzine. The outcome: If you have to anticipate radical changes – like corona – it’s important to be agile, preparing your organization to be ready for change. You don’t just become ‘Agile’. Bizzomate’s Triple-A approach is an effective step-by-step plan to be ready for an increasingly rapidly changing future. But exactly what is Triple-A?

The agile way of working isn’t limited to software development. To be truly effective, agile needs to be applied across the entire organization. Business agility is the management philosophy that a company must continuously and quickly adapt to changing circumstances. If an organization cannot cope with this, it will lag behind, causing a risk the organization will not survive in the short term.

This is our ‘Triple Agility’ – Triple-A – approach, where agile is present in three different layers. Our company is completely geared towards these layers so that companies build flexibility to be ready for changes in the future.

  1. Business agility
    The first layer, called business agility, is about the vision, structure, and culture of the company. To act agile in this layer, the long-term goals must be clear, making it easier to work flexibly. Is the world changing fast, but you still want to remain sustainable as a company? An organization must be ready to deal with radical changes, agile should be part of the culture. If a competitor lowers its prices by ten percent, how can your company adapt? Do you get involved in a price battle, or can you find other solutions? An agile attitude starts at the top of the organization. Is the managing board able to think flexibly and act outside the box? Agile is a leadership mindset. Without an agile mindset of the board, agile on other levels of the company won’t be very effective.
  2. Decision agility
    All operational decisions of the company must subsequently be flexible and feasible quickly. These decisions must be able to be changed or adjusted quickly. By recording your decisions in procedures and manuals – which many companies still do – then it’s very hard to reach flexibility.
    That’s why it’s important to model and automate decisions. It will be easier to simulate; what will happen in the company if decisions are tinkered with and the logic behind them is slightly adjusted? If an adjustment is satisfactory, the decision-making process can be adjusted at the touch of a button. That is decision agility; a flexible and fast execution of the business strategy.
  3. IT agility
    Third step in the agility step-by-step plan concerns IT systems and software. Problems will arise if the systems cannot be quickly adapted to changing circumstances from the first steps. If decisions are adjusted, the systems should be able to handle these changes. That;s why it’s important to be agile on all three layers.

Stagnant water smells bad

Bizzomate is a Mendix partner, and the Mendix’ low-code solutions are designed for the Triple Agility approach. Deployment of the software is always strategic. For example, the low-code rule engine Avola is used to automate decisions in the decision agility layer. The Mendix platform isn’t meant to build stand-alone apps, for it will not provide a significant strategic advantage. Mendix should be approached as a platform.

Research at Gartner shows how software works in agility with its Pace-layered Application Strategy. Applications are classified into three different layers, based on how they are used and the speed at which they can change and update. This division allows a company to define its strategy to respond more quickly to change without losing sight of integration and control. Gartner’s three layers:

  • Systems of Records (the commodity layer)

Established applications which might be legacy or core systems supporting or managing critical master data. Changes are less frequent and slow, can be due to well-established processes or regulatory requirements. These applications have the longest time span, around 10 years, the so-called marathon-applications, like CRM and ERP systems. For these large and very formally designed applications the processes might tend to be more water-fall or incremental development like.

  • Systems of Differentiation (the differentiation layer)

Applications that support the organization’s unique processes or capabilities which differentiate it from the rest of the market. While these applications have a medium life cycle, the change required is frequent to calibrate according to the changing business environment. Other than the first layer, this software should have the ability to change quickly.

  • Systems of Innovation (the innovation layer)

Ad-hoc applications built to respond quickly to new needs or opportunities, containing a lot of room for experiments. Developing new ideas and quickly validating those proof of concepts requires very different processes. These applications, revolving around ‘new innovations’ come under a system of innovations, characterized by very short life spans and flexible processes.

The key distinguishing and vital factor of Mendix is ​​its ability to change quickly. Agility means continuous change. Mendix is ​​therefore particularly suitable for the systems of differentiation and innovation.

So, the Gartner model is important for the IT layer, but I am convinced that agility at decision and business level is also very important. In order to actually become a Triple A company, it’s important to examine all three layers. Build a vision, culture and structure where change is seen as a greater good, and adjust the systems accordingly. Your company will be ready to respond to even the most radical changes, like a corona pandemic.

 

Marc Gelissen is founder of Bizzomate

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