Business agility is a basic survival skill in a volatile economy. Fiona Cannon’s The Agility Mindset details how firms have been able to improve their financial position and come out ahead of the competition through a commitment to agility. In his foreword to the book, Lloyds of London’s Sir Win Bischoff emphatically stated: “Until recently, workforce agility has for the most part been treated as a benefit for employees and a cost for employers. This needs to change.”
Communications agility is the first step in becoming a more agile business, delivering quick wins to fuel a deeper transformation.
Cannon’s case studies include:
- Retailer Tesco used better communication alongside demand modeling to cross-train the workforce and drop employment costs by 13%.
- The Eversheds law firm gave employees more flexible schedules, resulting in a 14% rise in billable hours.
- Lloyds Banking Group deployed remote workers with mobile connectivity to reduce real estate costs by 23%.
In a survey of businesses that implemented agile practices, more than a quarter said that agility helped better align their workforce with variable demand. 18% of them said that agility delivered productivity increases, enhanced the quality of their output or was instrumental in attracting and retaining the best talent.
Here are a few of the best practices in Agile methodology that relate to communications:
- Coordination of tasks between managers and employees should be brief but frequent
- The most effective form of communication is direct (not text-based)
- Simplicity is the art of identifying and eliminating unnecessary steps and it is crucial to facilitating the free flow of information.
- Continuous attention to good design and technical excellence (usability is key to agile communications.
Putting these best practices together, it easier to see how much work goes into creating simplicity for the workforce and customers. Agile teams and organizations can't rely on good intentions and ad hoc solutions for a effective communications. Technology can power agility but only if you choose the right channels, empower employees to act rapidly and open up the lines of communication.
The ideal agile framework
The ideal agile communication framework starts with clearly defined objectives, but gives employees flexibility in how they approach customer issues. Just as Agile developers build and test software in recurrent stages instead of one giant monolithic program, employees using agile communications talk through their issues often in brief exchanges. They need business smartphones that are always on and ideally give them unlimited minutes for collaboration, even across time zones.
Here’s an example of how agile communications improve on traditional business hierarchies. In the old world, a customer would call in with an problem and an employee would generate a trouble ticket to be handled by someone else in another department.
An agile communications plan might cross-train employees on simple resolutions to solve problems right on the call, or give all employees an up-to-date directory so they can conference in an engineer and resolve the issue that way. Then both employees know how to solve a similar problem when it comes up again in the future. Agile methodology puts the customer first and simultaneously solves more problems with fewer steps.
Here are more essential tools to help you build the best agile communications framework:
- Applications in the cloud –A report by Gartner estimated the Australian cloud market was worth $6.5 billion in 2017, 15% higher than the year before. Two out of three Australian businesses said nothing limiting their use of the cloud. Cloud-based apps facilitate collaboration among remote workers and lower operating costs.
- Open talent markets – The future is freelance in that all companies seek out contractors, freelancers and part-time employees to stay agile despite unpredictable swings in demand. Fortunately, the rise of mobility has made it easier for independent workers to do their tasks from anywhere – home, coworking spaces, cafes or even on the road.
- Call analytics – One of the biggest challenges that early adopters of smartphones for business faced was too much data like customer contact numbers and call notes were being lost to the business, trapped on employee phones. Virtual PBX systems change all that, keeping track of all the data on calls made through the mobile phone application instead of the employee’s personal number. When the employee can’t pick up a phone, a smart call log keeps track of when the call came in and whether anyone called the customer back. Analyzing results from employee calls can also yield valuable business intelligence (BI).
The modern office is a collection of mobile apps
Deloitte’s 2017 mobility report found that smartphones are becoming an essential tool for the modern worker and not just in Australia. Of the 67% of global mobile users who use their smartphones at work, 48% are checking email, 47% are making business calls, and 29% manage their calendars on their smartphones.
Those are the most popular activities, but 9% are using their smartphones to jump on the company intranet, 7% are submitting their timesheets and 5% are completing expense reports. The percentages vary considerably based on their work roles and how much time they spend in the field.
Deloitte reported that all of these numbers are rising sharply as smartphone processors are accelerating and apps are becoming more intelligent. Instead of being a distraction from work, smartphones are replacing laptops as the most agile and versatile tool for getting work done.
Spoke Phone is a 100% mobile virtual phone system with the simplest, most essential features of a professional PBX system. No hardware, no IT, no capital investments. Just turnkey business essentials like an AI autoattendant, auto-routing, easy transfer mobile-to-mobile and DDIs with local numbers in 53 countries.
Spoke takes business out of the office and puts in in your hands so you can stay connected no matter where you need to go. Get your own demo to discover what greater agility in communications can do for your business.