Expert Advice for Medium and Midsize Businesses

What is Agility? Why is it Important? How Modern ERP Can Help

Christiane Soto
Senior Marketing Manager - CX

Cloud is a proven technology that is used by thousands of growing companies (and their finance teams) around the globe.

Rather than reacting to digital disruption and transformation, these finance teams can drive business agility with innovative ERP cloud solutions.

But hang on just a second. What exactly is agility? The term is bandied around quite frequently when it comes to having a discussion about cloud vs. on-premises solutions. What is it? Why is it important? Why do you want to embrace it? And (most importantly) what benefits does it provide?

Definition of Agility

Agility refers to an organization’s ability to recognize, adapt quickly, and succeed in a rapidly changing, ambiguous, turbulent environment.

Business agility is the measure of the lag time between recognizing an emerging opportunity and being able to act on that opportunity. The shorter the lag time, the more agile your business is.

IT agility is the measure of the drag that technology places on your company’s ability to react. If technology is holding you back (because of upgrades, resource shuffling, project planning, or setting up change teams), then your IT footprint is not agile.

Siloes hinder agility. This includes technology siloes, departmental siloes, and process siloes.

In addition, agility and stability are not incompatible terms. Agility requires stability, and a good example of the type of stability that supports agility is culture. Building a healthy culture takes a lot of time and reflection. Without a healthy culture, it takes longer to discover or recognize competencies and capabilities that is advantageous to the company. When culture and employees communicate perfectly, the agility has found its foundation.

Finance and Agility

As we mentioned before, an agile small-to-medium business (SMB) is flexible, efficient, nimble, resilient, and profitable. It understands how it creates value, knows its own strengths and weaknesses, as well as outside threats and opportunities.

Agile SMBs can develop strategies and then scale up to test them and/or put them to work quickly. They can analyze results, and better manage their employees. If something fails, they can pivot and try something else, constantly re-allocating resources to where returns or prospects are best.

Finance’s role is to support this agility, which means that the finance department has to be run smoothly and have the following characteristics: 

  • Have efficient, scalable operations and business process
  • Is able to contribute to strategy because it understands how the business model works and what the drivers of value are
  • Can make sure that decision-makers are alerted to external developments, including new technologies or new business models, and have the information they need to develop a strategic response.
  • Can establish performance metrics to measure and manage progress
  • Is able to analyze a variety of relevant dimensions to determine and share what is working and what is not working.

Finance Transformation

A recent study found that agile finance leaders are more likely to implement a cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) system than their more traditional peers (51 percent vs. 17 percent). Additionally, 45 percent (vs. 17 percent) have fully implemented cloud ERP to standardize accounting processes, allowing them to create the foundation for profitable growth. Agile finance leaders are those leaders who are the most advanced transforming Finance. These leaders have established a new operating model that is cross-functional, collaborative and gets results. The key features of this new model are:

  • Pioneering the use of modern cloud ERP technologies such as big data analytics, robotic process automation, and artificial intelligence/machine learning to ensure the efficiency and scalability of accounting operations
  • Providing decision-makers (via self-service dashboards) with the wide array of data needed to improve business performance
  • Leveraging a wide variety of experts on multidisciplinary teams to enhance collaboration and build subject-matter expertise.

Get more information on finance agility and ERP in the cloud. Download our ebook today.

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