Can all departments of a company become agile?
Better productivity, collaboration and engagement are just some of the benefits of the agile way of working. Agile working practices include taking an iterative approach to setting goals and running projects. Technology is key to digital transformation, and almost everyone working within an I.T. or product development department will use or have heard of agile working practices, but those practices haven’t consistently rolled out to other departments like HR and Legal. Those organisations that adopt agile ways of working are reported to achieve 60 percent higher revenue and profit growth, as reported in the Harvard Business Review. So is the agile way of working something all areas of an organisation should embrace?
The digital revolution is transforming business, but departments like I.T. and sales can find that other departments slow down progress through manual-based paper processes. DocuSign surveyed 750 sales professionals to identify the most recent B2B sales trends. In the survey, 43% of sales professionals said they found working with the legal department challenging, and 53% said it was because there were too many manual tasks required in the collaboration process. 40% said it was because they were unsure where contracts were in the approval process.
Few companies have achieved agility across their organisation. The KPMG Global Agile Survey in 2019 gathered 128 responses from business leaders in 17 different countries, with 55% of respondents from Europe.
- 23% of respondents in all countries expected only selected functions to be working agile in three years, and 32% expected agile working to happen at an enterprise level.
- In the Netherlands, 43% expected to be working agile at an enterprise level by 2022
- In Germany, 45% of respondents indicated that breaking down silos between business and IT was the main driver for their shift towards agility.
Agile practices have enabled organisations to be more resilient to crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic too. In the UK, McKinsey’s research showed that 93 percent of organisations thought their agile business units had performed “better” or “significantly better” than their non-agile business units in customer satisfaction and operational performance. This was often due to faster decision-making and the ability to adapt to challenges. This kind of result indicates a strong case for embedding agile working throughout an organisation. Leaders can empower employees towards agile by uniting the team to a shared purpose and vision, flat structures and accountable roles. Next-generation technology is also vital, and many digital tools can help roll out agile to other departments like legal and HR.
Digital Tools for Agile Working
Firms will need to continue changing and adapting to become agile across their whole organisation. Those who embrace digital technology in the future will be the most competitive. In a Gartner survey, 56% of CEOs said that digital improvements have led to increased revenue. However, according to the Forrester State of Systems of Agreement research 2019, commissioned by DocuSign, only 18% of 120 technology purchasing decision-makers that responded had entirely digitised contract management in their legal department. In addition, the Forrester study found that only 38% of Legal staff believe that electronic signatures and systems of record, such as Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems, could be integrated and automated, compared with 65% of people working in sales.
Using digital tools can help facilitate the transition to agile and help automate tasks and eliminate paper and manual processes. Both legal and HR departments across EMEA find the following tools helpful when moving towards an agile way of working.
- EAP (Enterprise Agile Planning) Tools like Atlassian’s JIRA Software and Microsoft AZURE boards help organisations use agile practices at scale to achieve enterprise-class agile development. They help by supporting outcome-driven, customer-centric, collaborative and cooperative practices and with continual stakeholder feedback.
- File sharing and communication collaboration tools like Google Drive, Dropbox, Trello, Microsoft Teams, Slack and Miro can help legal and HR teams to facilitate agile working practices.
- Contract Lifecycle Management tools like DocuSign CLM can bring together pre-approved contract terms and conditions, service levels, warranties, prices, and other options in one place. As a result, it can help departments across a whole organisation - sales teams can navigate proposal stages faster, and legal can accelerate their review of the terms and conditions. In addition, businesses using CLM can create an easily accessible library of pre-approved clauses that can be preconfigured to auto-populate contracts.
- Processes that require signatures are a fundamental part of legal and HR work. However, manual and paper processes often cause delays. Electronic Signature software can help legal and HR teams to speed up the contract review and closing process. For example, UK Law Firm Womble Bond Dickinson now signs contracts in under one hour using electronic signature software.
- Customer Relationship Management Systems like Salesforce can help legal teams remain customer-centric.