HiTech Bytes

The Agile Mindset: A Five-Point Plan for Software & Professional Services Firms

 
June 19, 2020

As the world struggles to deal with COVID-19, a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment – VUCA – posed by the pandemic, has brought up unique challenges to every industry vertical. For software and professional services companies, this means myriad changes in the way they operate. There is a sudden spike in the demand for solutions and services that could support the new normal, SPS companies need to bridge the gap between supply and demand rapidly.

With the new normal soliciting remote working, the reliance on digitization and digitalization has increased multifold. This, in turn, has put tremendous pressure on software companies to enable modernization – digitalization of new processes and enhancement of existing ones – in huge volumes. Meanwhile, professional services companies are forced to be on their toes to support their clientele to deal with this unusual situation. The streamlined operating model of consulting firms that involved business travels and face-to-face interactions with customers, stands equally challenged. In such a climate, the core value drivers that underpin agile practices, can help SPS firms prepare for the future.

 Embrace Agile to Solidify Resiliency

Agile practices for resilience during COVID-19 can help sharpen the response system of companies through focus, ability to adapt, transparency, ramped-up collaboration, and empathizing culture. Agile’s iterative and incremental approach can assist SPS businesses in gaining optimized predictability and controlling risks.

  • Inspect and Adapt

Software firms should embrace this approach while working with their customers to understand new pain points and deliver product increments in shorter cycles. Features most important to deal with the current situation such as remote working, video conferencing, handling the sudden surge in servers’ performance, and so on will maximize value. To respond quickly, firms should focus on launching minimum viable features, seek periodic customer feedback, and build upon it.

  • Focused Market

Developing effective and relevant products remains one of the top priorities. For software organizations, this approach could mean supporting remote workforces through new features or helping their customers deal with travel restrictions, or even building security solutions. Other examples could be rolling out AI and analytics solutions to help research companies, governments, communities, and healthcare groups combat the situation. Additionally, developing software driven by cognitive automation could help customers with collaboration, forecasting, and decision making. On the other hand, professional services companies well known for their customer centricity, must focus on business continuity planning and disaster recovery for their customers. Meanwhile, consulting firms can focus on insights on the new normal or the impact of COVID-19 from reliable sources like market research reports. Based on these insights, they can help their customers by providing innovative ideas or solutions, such as cost optimization initiatives.

  • Transparency

Clouded by uncertainties, today’s market demands transparency and visibility now more than ever. Software firms should ensure that their customers are aware of upcoming features and address the concerns with respect to data privacy or network security in a transparent manner.

For example, Facebook and Zoom found themselves in the middle of data privacy and security concerns recently; in such cases, taking more ownership and releasing security patches and guidelines is critical for these brands. Meanwhile, professional services companies can build trust and maintain transparency by displaying information about the firm’s COVID-19 response framework on dashboards. 

  • Collaboration

A more pronounced collaboration backbone across the ecosystem of vendors, partners, customers, employees, and stakeholders goes a long way in ensuring engagement. Amid the spike in the usage of collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams, social networking sites, Zoom, and e-learning platforms, software firms should focus on similar products and features that enhance collaboration. Constant engagement would ensure a software firm’s relevance in the market. For professional services and consulting firms, continuous collaboration should be established with their customers. They can offer specific services that solve their customers’ burning issues and ensure relevant knowledge and insights are shared. As these firms mainly rely on business travels and face-to-face meetings, making extra efforts for implementing video conferencing platforms to maximize customer collaboration can be a real game-changer.

  • Empathy

Software and professional services firms typically have global workforces. They should renew their respect and empathy for their employees through various measures such as assuring no layoffs or salary-cuts. Special leaves in case of inability to work from home can also be introduced. Firms should also demonstrate respect towards customers and their challenges and continue collaboration irrespective of engagement continuity. This ensures the relationship is preserved for the time and can resume when things get better.

Software and professional services organizations that adopt this customized agile mindset have better chances in fighting off adverse elements and surviving the situation at hand. Alongside thriving in the coming days, these businesses will also have a head start in shaping up the future of work which will be more digital and location-independent.

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Yashasree Barve is an Agile Coach and Transformation Consultant at TCS. She has over 21 years of experience in delivering enterprise solutions across the breadth of the technology landscape. Her work includes transformation consulting and coaching for customers and teams to help embrace agile ways of working. An avid blogger and a conference speaker, she is a proponent of the agile mindset. She also drives various agile community initiatives, conferences, and agile competency development within the HiTech Business Unit of TCS.