Agile organizations embrace order and stability but also encourage adaptability and innovation. Organizations that are agile attempt to balance strategic decision making and cooperation between stakeholders. Agile organizations gain visibility through data consolidation and can adapt to changing circumstances but it can be a challenge to properly estimate project requirements as many expectations are ambiguous.
When it comes to spend culture, agile organizations aim to balance the ability to react quickly to solve problems or take advantage of opportunities with making sure data is accessible to make strategic decisions. An agile approach keeps spending organized and structured while leaving room for unpredictable situations, however people can become frustrated with ambiguity surrounding process or lack of detail in the data depending on their personal incentives in the organization.
Agile Leaders in the Workplace
A simple way to describe agile leaders in the workplace is to “trust, but check” when it comes to accountability.
Rather than a top-down approach, agile leaders embrace change and innovation, and view calculated risks as an opportunity. Agile leaders see the opportunities in collaboration, cross-functional learning, and allowing their team members to create their own goals.
Agile leaders encourage finding new ways to complete projects and suggesting new ideas, including sourcing a new software solution for a specific pain in the organization, or going ahead and proposing a budget for a new event.
Fiercely against micromanagement, one of the most significant accomplishments for an agile leader is seeing their team members be empowered to make decisions on behalf of the best interests of the company, and succeed doing it.
Agile Spend Culture and the Finance Team
Finance teams under an agile spend culture are all about accessibility of data and the technological tools needed to make strategic decisions. This means that budgets are often more flexible than rigid, open, and not set in stone from the top down, giving freedom to the individual department leaders to determine how to spend company funds (with caveats).
Agile organizations are often technological pioneers and early adopters of the newest tools in the market. They are open to change and are flexible with a very strategic understanding of how company spending is being documented and tracked.
Agile finance managers also dislike inefficient processes, usually actively reading up on the best practices and industry solutions, and automating mundane and manual processes with software. You will often not see paper invoices and paper expense forms under an agile finance team.
Because of the flexibility and openness to try new tools and solutions, agile finance teams sometimes struggle with getting the right amount of visibility to other departments. It is not also not uncommon for agile finance teams to allow the organization to use company credit cards for company expenses.
Also, because there may not be processes and procedures written down and documented, agile finance teams are often chasing down receipts and invoices, and doing ‘investigative work’ when it comes to month end close.
Agile Spend Culture and the Procurement Team
When it comes to procurement, agile organizations are tactical and technologically savvy. They understand that time = money and are fast to find alternative solutions to streamline inefficient processes.
Because agile teams value efficiency, this means that they have usually moved away from paper purchase orders, and often do purchase approvals through email, slack, or utilize a purchasing software or system.
Agile procurement teams are also great at consolidating and interpreting data and often have a set vendor list to reference. They most often have an approval chain set up - with multiple parties glazing over a purchase request before it goes through to accounts payable.
Because teamwork is essential in agile organizations, the procurement team work closely alongside the finance team - having sharing goals and KPIs to improve the spend culture of the organization together, such as cycle time.
However, alignment is difficult when agile organizations scale to multi-location companies. These agile organizations are now attempting to integrate, standardize, and sustain the processes on a global scale to drive increased value. Establishing procedures that can be consistently measured helps identify areas for improvement.
Figuring out how these new technologies can get incorporated and what the impact is on staffing and business processes is going to be one of the main questions to ask. The role of digital transformation and procurement tech is a key challenge now in many agile procurement organizations.