Features: November 5th, 2002

Re-thinking Business Processes

 According to 250 senior executives interviewed for “An Agile Age” – a report by Gartner, commissioned by BT – greater business agility will bring substantial savings and heavily influence the strategies and future spending priorities of UK public and private sector organisations. Those surveyed estimated that investments in making themselves more agile would result in a 4.8 per cent increase in workforce productivity-equivalent to an addition of ?billion to last year’s GDP.

Respondents across national, regional and local government estimate that last year, agility initiatives raised the productivity of government staff by up to 3.3 per cent. The greatest priority areas for improvements were cited as customer service and support and IT.

Agility critical for the future

The study found that a third of national government and half of local government executives consider business agility as critical to future success, and 60 per cent of government as a whole expect to increase spending on agility over the next three years. However, only 14 per cent of respondents within national government departments consider themselves ‘very agile’, compared to 18 per cent of local government and 32 per cent of regional government respondents.

By focusing on agile business processes, government organisations are looking to stretch their resources and increase effectiveness. Seven out of 10 government executives recognise that IT will play a significant role in achieving this, and the study highlights that ‘joined up government’ and citizen support are the primary goals for the sector. Gartner predicts that government spending on agile initiatives will reach 25 per cent of IT budgets by 2006, up from less than five per cent in 2001. But, according to 87 per cent of executives, government organisations want to know how their peers are doing before taking the first step towards improving their own agility. Just one in 20 government organisations see themselves as more agile than their closest peer, and almost 30 per cent regard their own organisation as worse than their counterparts, indicating that there is a lot of room for improvement.

Sara Mayer, UK Campaigns Manager, BT Ignite said: “Agility is simply about making better use of people and technology to create real benefits to the organisation, employee, customer, citizen and shareholder. And the great news for the UK is that business leaders within the public sector are recognising that. Not only are they taking note of the ways in which the EU is driving government change, the fact that private sector organisations can increase productivity by up to ?00 per worker simply by rethinking current business processes, should be an incentive to all.

“However, while technology is a fundamental tool in bringing about this change, it is the overall organisation-wide thinking required by business leaders that will really make the difference. Being agile is a strategic, organisational, operational, cultural and technology undertaking.”

Chris Boyd, director, Gartner Consulting, said: “The overall maturity of government organisations, legacy systems and e-government requirements are all placing demands on the sector to find ways to be fast and flexible in meeting citizen, supplier, organisational and macro-economic challenges. In Gartner’s view, perhaps the single most important challenge for Government chief executives over the next two years will be to identify the agenda for agility and to create preparedness within their organisation to face threats and exploit the opportunities that this period of technology-driven turbulence brings.”

Other key findings include:

  • Nine out of ten senior executives within UK government regard increasing their agility as leading driver of organisational change initiatives, with 79 per cent of government organisations seeing their ability to respond swiftly to changing market circumstances as ‘vital’ to their future success.
  • Meeting citizen demands more efficiently and effectively was cited by almost 75 per cent of government executives as a key benefit of becoming more agile.
  • .Forty-six per cent of government executives expect improving agility to contribute to cost efficiency.
  • Nearly 43 per cent believe greater agility will help them to overcome cultural and organisational challenges.
  • 60 per cent expect agility to help them to manage their external relationships and processes.

Of the nine markets surveyed, the financial services sector has so far invested most heavily in technology to enhance agility, followed by government and utilities. In 2001, the government sector invested ? billion on initiatives that will increase agility.