This post excerpted from our new book (Oct, 2011) Building Business Solutions: Business Analysis with Business Rules. See: http://www.brsolutions.com/b_building_business_solutions.php
Agile in software development is an IT development method featuring rapid iteration and prototyping. Agile software methods and business agility have nothing to do with each other. Agile in software development leaves off exactly where business agility picks up – at deployment.
In working with clients we frequently come across systems that feature a very ‘open’ environment with few enterprise controls. Typically, this ‘flexibility’ resulted from diligent efforts by IT to satisfy many stakeholders individually. But the ‘flexibility’ is just an illusion. The failure of business-side stakeholders to come together and develop a collective business solution before ‘agile’ software development commences can plague the company for years to come. It reduces overall productivity, lowers customer satisfaction, and diminishes the capacity to make sound operational business decisions. It makes apple-to-apple financial comparisons virtually impossible. And it always costs a lot in ‘maintenance’. There are simply no magic bullets for building business solutions.
Business agility results when the IT aspect of change in business policies and business rules disappears into the plumbing. All artificial (IT-based) production freeze dates for deployment disappear and the software release cycle becomes irrelevant. The only constraint is how long it takes business leads and Business Analysts to think through the change as thoroughly as they feel they need to.
So the answer to my question is that business should be agile. Here then is our definition of business agility: being able to deploy change in business policies and business rules into day-to-day business activity as fast as business people and Business Analysts can determine the full business impact of the change and assess whether the change makes good business sense.