How the digital HQ can boost business agility

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How the digital HQ can boost business agility
Almost 20 years on from its creation the Agile Manifesto—a collection of values and principles for agile working—continues to influence workplaces. Today, agility is more important than ever, as teams everywhere are facing the need to meet unforeseen challenges with speed and efficiency.
But while it kick started the agile revolution, business leaders now need more than a manifesto to create truly agile workplaces. In an era of hybrid and remote work, they require a digital-first space that keeps employees nimble; able to pivot quickly to address business challenges but without sacrificing culture. For future-fit businesses, that space is the digital headquarters (HQ). 
Through its ability to empower employees and make work more efficient, the digital HQ can transform the impact of teams and boost agility across an organisation. Here are three ways it does this, to the benefit of businesses. 
1. Keeping collaboration flexible
Even best laid plans can be disrupted by unforeseen circumstances. This is why, instead of being blinkered by roadmaps and deadlines, agile businesses need to consider how they can help teams adapt on the fly. 
The digital HQ enables this by breaking down silos in how teams communicate and collaborate so that getting work done is simpler, more pleasant and more productive. Let’s take audio huddles as an example. 
In order to implement pivot-oriented project management in everyday work, audio-only huddles offer a way for employees to quickly hop into conversations, eliminating the need for the sledgehammer approach of 30-minute video call meetings. Whether sharing progress, adjusting plans, or supporting one another—it all happens quickly with huddles. No more cumbersome meetings and diary management bringing creativity to a halt.
2. Aligning the business with customer needs to accelerate decision making
Agile working methods call for a free-flowing line of communication between businesses and their customers. This way, a project can progress in line with customer needs and feedback. The key for companies is to keep this process as collaborative and unbureaucratic as possible. For this reason, collaboration should be streamlined, and should happen in dedicated channels, not silo-prone tools such as email.
Channels are where great agile work gets moved forward. They bring clarity and order to work, with the ability to be built around any project or topic. The relevant people are brought in—even, in this case, customers or other external partners—and conversations remain focused and results–driven.
Through the ability of channels to extend beyond an organisation, critical stakeholder communication is transformed. The digital HQ means this happens through real-time conversations that take place alongside relevant discussions and documents, and doesn’t require a team to sift through email chains and risk working from outdated information. The result? Communication grows more effective, collaborative, and fast-paced—in fact, digital HQs were found to increase decision making speed by 26%, on average. 
3. Empowering teams to build better processes 
Agile working practices can be transformative, but teams—as well as the tools they use—have to be united for those agile practices to flourish. 
Digital automotive marketplace Auto Trader is one company utilising the digital HQ to bring its working practices, and apps, together in one place. Before moving to the digital HQ, Auto Trader’s ways of working lacked the rapid-fire communication needed to resolve issues quickly and roll out service improvements. 
Being dependent on email, the team would have to sift through countless silos of information to find which developer was responsible for what, before responding to a customer. Likewise, the solutions they were using to collaborate didn’t integrate with the apps they relied on day-to-day, meaning time was lost context switching. 
Now, with a digital HQ, the team has integrated the apps it uses every day into one place, and created a customised, agile, way of working to meet their needs.
One example of how they’re doing this is workflows. With the ability to be set up by just about anyone, and no need for coding experience, workflows define the route a team’s cross-collaboration takes. In Auto Trader’s case, this means that when an issue is flagged—even in a separate app—an alert automatically comes straight to a shared channel while the relevant developer is also pinged individually. This ensures eyes are immediately on any issue. Such efficient alert management is a key element of their agile working process, and enables them to stay adaptable to external pressures and resolve issues rapidly. 
By using automated workflows as part of its digital HQ, Auto Trader is able to offer a speedy turnaround on important requests and has done away with a complex IT ticketing system in the process. Now, the business has not just optimised its service for customers, but its team as well.
Preparing for the age of agility
As can be seen from the example of Auto Trader, the digital HQ opens up new avenues for agile working. Through its ability to improve processes and keep teams flexible and aligned to customer needs, it creates a workspace where unforeseen challenges are taken in a team’s stride. 
With external pressures set to grow due to challenging macroeconomic factors, organisations should look to empower their people in this way, helping them to do more with less, without sacrificing output or culture. The age of agility is set to be a challenging one, but how businesses can continually succeed throughout it starts with the digital HQ. 
By V Brennan, Senior Director Of Engineering at Slack

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V Brennan

V Brennan is Senior Director, Software Engineering at Slack. She's an experienced tech leader, presently leading and growing Slack Engineering teams in EMEA. She works in complex environments and thrives on bringing people from multiple disciplines together to create robust and resilient applications. Having previously led engineering teams in Spotify, she is passionate about leading and growing high performing teams and achieving the best possible results through collaboration and empowerment. She thrives on the ability to convert learning into tangible actions that lift team capability and is a champion for change. She consistently supports, educates and encourages her team through the change process.

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