Business Agility, Start with your organisation's support functions

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Nader Talai

One of the questions when organisations start their business agility journey is when do we address the support functions like HR, Finance, Governance.


The organisational agility journeys normally replicate the organisational structures and typically start within the technology function and when the agile journey goes beyond a few teams we run into challenges of the misalignment of ways of working between organisational support functions and the technical ways of working. 

Finance and budgeting

Spending 3 to 6 months of the management and leadership time to plan the budget for the next year assumes that we can foresee the market demand and what we need to do and the budget 12 to 18 months in advance. This form of budgeting works when the market is stable and we can plan the portfolio of work 18 months in advance which is rarely the case. Of course, we need fiscal control within the organisation and need a way of managing the finances in a different way moving from project-based accounting to funding value stream with a rolling wave funding.

Workout your lean-agile organisation approach to budgeting, below are three great resources to help you re-think your budgeting and financing of work. 

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Beyond Budgeting

Throughput Accounting

Lean Portfolio Management

HR Function

Our HR processes are focused on managing the individual and they mostly miss the system conditions that create the individual behaviours.

Knowledge workers, Peter Drucker defined knowledge workers as people who know more about the work than their managers. Today, most of the organisation's workforce is knowledge workers. How has your HR process adapted to this fact?

Our lean-agile ways of working encourage collaboration and focus on customer delivery and a move to a pull-based system of work where the focus is not on the individual but the customer delivery.

How is your HR process supporting this way of working? 

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W E Deming on performance appraisals - Four minutes video

Why appraisals are pointless for most people

Appraisal of what performance

Agile HR


Our governance processes are designed to inspect for governance at the end or at stage gates, with lean-agile ways of working we build governance in the delivery. In our lean-agile ways of working, we need the risk and governance work items and evidence to capture like other work items and be embedded within the iterative delivery. The iterative increments include features, risk and governance. Governance functions act as subject matter experts and advise the product management to ensure their concerns are known, captured and addressed as part of the product development and delivery. They are responsible and work with the teams to ensure that the governance is built-in by ensuring the work items are defined correctly with the correct acceptance criteria and they accept the work items iteratively as part of the product and solution increments.

I was first introduced to how to incorporate governance within the product development lifecycle by my colleague Bruno Cochard when we worked together on helping our client agile transformation the first links below are articles from Bruno that I recommend.

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Regulatory Agility

Identifying Risk Stories

National Audit Office: Governance in Agile Delivery

Governance principles for agile service delivery

If you are starting your agility journey or you are already on your way, don't neglect your organisational support functions that are your system constraints. Start early with these functions to avoid mixed messages that have the potential to create a conflict of interest for the individuals and lead to disengaged, unhappy staff. 








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