Companies that rely on agile forms of work react much better to changes and challenges, especially during a crisis, such as a pandemic. Agile working methods help us change plans at short notice and offer proactive solutions. Our survey shows that agile organizations react more flexibly to rapid changes and are therefore more robust – not only in times of crisis but at any time.

For organizations that have integrated agility into their daily business, dealing with change and uncertainty is already part of everyday life, making them more crisis-proof. That is one of the findings of our Agile Pulse 2020 study, which sheds light on the various dimensions of organizations’ agile orientation. In 2020, we surveyed over 350 organizations to learn as much as possible once again about agility. Given the current corona crisis, the survey is of particular importance – many organizations have had to simultaneously react to several challenges. According to the study, there are stark differences between organizations with agile working methods and organizations just introducing them.

Agility is constantly increasing

More and more organizations are turning to agile forms of work. Of the organizations surveyed, 62% have introduced agile methods in the past one to three years. Furthermore, 20% state that they have been using agile methods for four to six years. However, large organizations with more than 5,000 employees are still at the beginning of their agile journey. The evaluation shows that agility has found its way into those organizations only in the past one to three years. However, in organizations with less than 500 employees, agile working methods began more than 10 years ago.

The transformation to an agile organization is a process that takes place step by step with varying speed. For this reason, it is possible that different departments of an organization are at various stages of agile methods and that their project management approaches differ as a result. A mixture of classic and agile approaches within an organization is called a 'hybrid' process model.

In the survey, respondents stated that 69% of the projects in their organization are hybrid. In contrast, 17% are agile, and 14% are classically organized. Scrum (76%) and Kanban (66%) are the most popular agile frameworks. The survey also shows that agile practices are currently used at the team level (81%), followed by the department level (62%). Less agile practices are at the strategy (29%) and management levels (26%).

Agile organizations are more robust

A large majority of those surveyed (82%) believe that agile companies are better equipped to react quickly to changes such as crises. In addition, more than two-thirds (71%) state that agile organizations have an advantage because employees are used to self-organized work and can work remotely more efficiently.

Julia von Spreckelsen, Partner at BearingPoint

The pandemic also poses major challenges for all organizations. But those that already have agile working methods and mindsets will come through the crisis better. Our survey shows that they can react more flexibly to the rapid changes and are therefore more robust. Not only in times of crisis, but at any time.

Julia von Spreckelsen, Partner at BearingPoint

The top 5 reasons for introducing agile methods:

  • Increased flexibility (57%)
  • Increased speed, e.g., time-to-market (49%)
  • Stronger customer focus (38%)
  • Simpler and leaner processes ( 31%)
  • Improvement in the personal responsibility of employees (17%)

According to the respondents, 'increased flexibility' was achieved more overall (41%) compared to other objectives. The survey also shows that executives and non-executives rate the flexibility of their company differently. While 39% of managers state that their company is flexible and can adapt quickly, only 20% of non-executives share this assessment. The different assessments of managers and employees can be an area of tension that more transparency would lessen. 

What were or are the biggest challenges in agile transformation?

As in Agile Pulse 2019, half of those surveyed in 2020 also see culture as the biggest challenge in their company’s agile transformation. That was followed by the interplay between agile and traditional approaches at 38% and employees’ willingness to change at 31%.

Which measures helped the respondents most in the agile transformation?

  • above all, support from top management (48%)
  • strengthening the responsibility of individual employees (45%)
  • the use of dedicated agile coaches (37%)

People’s motivations also influence the organizational culture, and there are various ways to influence them. However, there was a big difference between respondents in how they are motivated and how they would like to be inspired. Self-determined working, primarily when supported by agile frameworks, is the most important motivating factor for employees at 72%.

The complex agile transformation

Agility is not sought for its own sake. To rise above the competition, organizations must perform flexibly, effectively, and efficiently. With agile ways of working and thinking and agile forms of organization, they have an advantage. However, the introduction of agile forms affects many aspects where the effect of measures is hardly predictable, and the target image of the new organization only becomes apparent over time. Therefore, a step-by-step, evidence-based approach is necessary to inspect and adapt an organization’s areas in different dimensions.

With agile coaches and many years of practical experience, we help our clients take advantage of agility to achieve their goals.

Further information and concrete recommendations can be found in the 'Agile Pulse 2020' study available below.

We wish you an exciting read and would be happy to share our experiences with you.

  • Agile Pulse 2020 Infographic
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  • Download the Agile Pulse Study 2020
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