Agile management gives firms competitive edge

posted by Francis Churchill
14 December 2017

More trade and logistics businesses are turning to agile project management as a way to implement changes faster and at a lower cost, a report has found. 

Agile management is a project management methodology where the solution to a problem is not completely mapped out before the project starts. Instead, businesses encourage self-organising teams to innovation by quickly iterating through potential solutions, making changes as a project progresses.

The report, which surveyed business managers, found that 83.8% of respondents believed agile project management would deliver a competitive advantage. More than a third (38%) have started implementing it, and one in five have plans to do so. 

It recommended that companies with the right culture look at how they can start to implement the methodology, starting with small projects and staff training.

The report, commissioned by logistics company AEB International, polled 155 executives and mid-level logistics, global trade and IT managers from across sectors. It found 87% expected more efficient processes as a result of an agile methodology, 86% anticipated faster implementation and 79% better results.

Nearly two thirds (60%) expected agile management to lower costs, but more than half (56%) of those surveyed said they were concerned the methodology could lead to budget overruns.

The study also found a majority (84%) of participants expected to see an increase in employee motivation from agile management.

Dirk Hartel, of DHBW University in Stuttgart and one of the study’s co-authors, said: “This experience aligns with the basic principle of self-organising teams… You can take it for granted that greater freedom heightens the sense of responsibility and motivation of individual team members.”

But, of those surveyed, nearly a third were concerned that the greater freedom the methodology provides would create a lack of discipline in the workforce. Those surveyed also reported concerns about inadequate project documentation.

Having a corporate culture that is open to agile management – which involves quick business changes and the delegation of responsibility – is key to its success, the report said.

“What we need here is a new awareness that permeates the entire company. Agile project management can only work hand in hand with a modern approach to management,” said Ulrich Lison, an AEB board member and study co-author.  

He added it was important to pick the right teams and train employees in the methodology. 

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