Business agility elusive for many organisations

business agility

Organisational agility is critical for any enterprise, yet financial services organisations around the globe and across industries lack systems in place to adapt, claims Changepoint.

The project portfolio management (PPM) software provider says its global survey suggests that 68% of those in the finance sector still rely on spreadsheets when it comes to IT project management.

Changepoint surveyed 1,257 project managers and executives from medium to enterprise-sized organisations in industries ranging from IT services and manufacturing to government and healthcare. More than half of survey respondents came from North America, a quarter from Europe, the Middle East and Africa and the remainder from South America and Asia Pacific (APAC).

The resulting study, entitled Business Agility: Is it Easy to Pivot?’, explored the agility of global businesses and asked respondents to evaluate the challenges and barriers that project management officers (PMOs) face in building nimbler organisations.

While C-level executives are concerned with disruptive new entrants, only 10% of financial services survey respondents are confident they can pivot their business if needed. This ongoing struggle is made more challenging by a disconnect between project managers and executives. Fifty-six per cent of respondents working in financial services acknowledge being unsure of their corporate objectives and values, while half of them cited poor communication between and within departments as the most difficult aspect of managing teams.

“The hard truth is, at any moment, your business is most likely disrupting or being disrupted,” said Alan Shefveland, director, product management, strategy and innovation at Changepoint. “The best way to thrive in the face of rapid change is rewriting your playbook to refocus on accelerating internal operations.”

The survey finds that nimble organisations actively engage executive sponsors, align projects to strategy, and establish an effective PMO. Communication, collaboration and engagement are key to enabling change and managing risk effectively and continue to be big hurdles for PMOs. Survey respondents working in financial services said the main barriers to agility include a lack of real-time transparency into projects (45%) and resources (56%), and overreliance on manual reporting such as spreadsheets (68%).

Other key findings include:

• Multiple, disconnected systems stand in the way of business agility:
Project managers and executives desire one connected system for project management, portfolio management and resource management. Most organisations still rely on a patchwork of outdated legacy systems, including multi-tenant software-as-a-service (SaaS), hosted software, on premise software, proprietary systems, and manual spreadsheets to manage project tasks and information. The three most important project portfolio management (PPM) capabilities ranked by respondents working within financial services were project management (26%), resource management (23%) and portfolio management (22%). Without managing projects and resources to ensure nimble execution, the PMO and larger organisation are at risk.

• Lack of effective communication tools make projects difficult to manage:
Despite the surge in business communication tools, 32% of respondents working in financial services say they lack tools for managing better communication across teams and projects. Nearly half (49%) of financial services professionals in the survey respondents cite communication, both intra and inter-department, as the most difficult aspect of managing a project.

• Managing workloads and schedules is a continued hurdle to agility:
Project managers within financial services most of their work day managing team workloads and schedules, with 46% citing this task as the most difficult aspect to project execution; 64% of financial services project managers and executives spend more than three hours a day managing people and 59% spend more than three hours a day establishing and managing processes.

“To prepare for organisational change, project and business leaders must be on the same path forward,” said Shefveland. “This demands confident decision making and prioritising company initiatives.

“A connected PPM system provides real-time insight and enables cross-functional communication, both important first steps to weathering organisational change.”

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