Agility is an abstract concept. If you’re just starting to implement it in your work, or are planning to, the way ahead may not always seem particularly clear.
Luckily, Wolters-Kluwer have just come out with their Compass Report in partnership with Generation CFO, Four ways Manufacturing Finance teams can survive the post-pandemic shift.
From this report, I have pulled out four ‘traps’ that many fall into when trying to initiate agile working. I’ll talk you through them, and then you can read on into the research report for more valuable insights on Factory 4.0, automation and more.
Agility vs flexibility
These terms may be similar outside of the workplace, but when considering work management they are very different indeed. As the report states:
“Perhaps the biggest agility trap manufacturing finance leaders can fall into is to equate agility entirely and interchangeably with other similar concepts: speed and flexibility being the two obvious examples.”
That’s why it is so important to make sure all members of the team are totally clear on what agile working is and what it brings to project management.
We do have an article that could help, so if you want to learn more about the basics of agility, why not read What Is Agility In Accounting And Finance?
Being driven solely by the tech
The next trap to avoid when considering agile working is to go into it with misconceptions.
The report states that “many technologies promise to somehow instantly inject a dose of agility into the finance department. When it comes to implementation however, technologies that are merely searching for a business issue to address are generally failures.”
“True transformation is a business-led activity; not a solution-driven one.”
“Finance professionals need to keep sight of their actual objective: adapting ways of working that support transformational change, recognising the impact on people and processes.”
Technology should be supporting this change, but that doesn’t mean that the tech itself is agile or adaptive – it’s a facilitator.
Failing to update the finance department’s skillset
This point is becoming more and more important in the finance industry every day. Data and technology skills are indispensable, as are creativity and innovation.
“Think carefully about where you focus your continuing professional development efforts.”
These skills are particularly valuable to finance teams pursuing transformation. If you are attempting to implement agile working, you need to have individuals with the skillsets to facilitate it.
“Agile business support often takes the form of short bursts of activity and collaborative working. To play a full role in fostering agility, finance professionals should aim to master all of this.”
If you want to be on top of your game, as this quote says, you’ll want to attempt to learn all the skills relevant to the future of finance and accounting.
Don’t compromise on stability for agility
The Compass Report phrases this pretty succinctly:
“Greater agility should never involve an undermining of stability.”
This may be the most important lesson you can take away from this article. Not every task, initiative or project HAS to be undertaken in an agile way.
“It is easy to assume that all transformation initiatives are agile. Organisations will still have the need to undertake larger scale initiatives that may follow variants of the traditional project lifecycle.”
This means that, as a finance and accounting professional, one must be adaptive to the different requirements a transformation journey and be able to support their organisations through it.
The report quotes Aaron De Smet as he clarifies the importance of stability:
“Agility is the ability of an organisation to renew itself, adapt, change quickly, and succeed in a rapidly changing, ambiguous environment. Agility is not incompatible with stability – quite the contrary. Agility requires stability for most companies.”
Your next steps…
So, now you know what traps to avoid surrounding agile working. If you found this useful, there’s a lot more from where that came from in Wolters-Kluwer’s Four ways Manufacturing Finance teams can survive the post-pandemic shift.
Just click the button below to find out more and download the report for free: