Over the past two decades, Agile innovation has transformed the face of project management, helping companies to stay competitive, greatly improving quality of products and hastening turnaround times. But in order to be effective, Agile needs flexible and adaptive infrastructure to support its adoption, with the right combination of software, hardware and equipment that will work together to achieve project goals.
This underlying infrastructure, called MIS (or Management Information Systems) Infrastructure, inter-relates people, technology and organizations, helping Agile organizations to realise the most benefit from the alignment between them. What are the characteristics that support an Agile MIS infrastructure? Read on to find out.
An Agile MIS Infrastructure is the network that shares data and resources between various teams in the organization, and is comprised of hardware systems, software as well as telecommunication equipment that helps in doing that. Agile organizations depend on the reliability of this infrastructure to execute and deliver goals.
Agile MIS infrastructure streamlines processes and optimizes operations, enhancing the efficiency of resource allocation and boosting overall productivity. As with everything to do with Agile, it needs to be flexible and should easily adapt to changing organizational conditions.
To meet the emergent needs of volatile markets, Agile infrastructures must have these capabilities:
Operating systems must have the permission levels set in such a way that users who need to access the system should be able to do so, and others should not. The accessibility is defined according to the performance needs and the authorization given to each user.
Some systems such as Amazon, or other e-com platforms, are required to be operational at all times and all through the year. Others have specific work hours that define their availability, and only during these hours, transactions will need to take place. Based on specific organizational needs, it should be possible to define the availability of the systems.
Agile systems are required to be maintained in accordance with user needs. As market conditions change, the underlying infrastructure might need to change very quickly to keep up, and should still be high-performant and efficient. Systems that take a long time to incorporate change or break down under stress, are not suited to Agile environments, where change is what sets the pace.
As the world turns increasingly digital, our lives are governed by electronics. We are always on our computers, tablets and mobile phones, and Agile systems should have the ability of being ported and accessed across multiple devices such as these.
When working on complex and challenging projects, unless the systems are reliable and accurate your work is liable to be lost or function incorrectly. When your teams are putting in so much effort, it goes without saying that the infrastructure should have the maximum reliability and predictability in order to capture all the updates in real time.
Team level Agile can only get you so far and no further. In order for Agility to make a real impact and create sustained change, it must be scaled across all levels of the organization. Agile infrastructure should be capable of scaling and should be able to support larger teams that may work across geographies on complex processes. It should be able to easily accommodate growing business needs, as and when needed. Unless the infrastructure supports growth, the business will not be able to expand and reach its full potential.
The customer is at the heart of every Agile project. Creating and sustaining customer delight is the most important prerogative of Agile teams, and therefore the goal of an Agile system should be to provide the most satisfying customer experiences. The usability of the system should be such that it creates positive user experiences, and the user is able to easily navigate, learn and gain mastery over the environment.
Infrastructure implementations that span across offices and locations are very complex. For an Agile MIS Infrastructure to be sustainable and work efficiently, it is imperative to have plans in place that can be counted on.
Companies that are able to scale Agile and leverage its full potential prepare and manage a number of plans well ahead of time, to minimize risk and handle any fallouts.
Any network and system can crash, be hacked into, or fail due to operational errors; and a backup and recovery plan will help to minimize the inevitable downtime and smoothen the path to recovery. To run a successful business, a well thought out backup and recovery plan is an imperative. In the event of any loss, it is possible to recover data from backups and go back to a time when systems were running well.
Many systems can be set up to automatically backup to the cloud, which makes local backups unnecessary or redundant.
Backing up the data is only one aspect of a complete Disaster Recovery Plan, which takes into account all and any types of disasters, including man-made and natural issues that could occur over the course of the project. Some examples of disasters are the fallout from hacking or terrorist attacks, or equipment failure that causes loss of data.
A disaster recovery plan will factor in ways to minimize the effect of any disaster, recover from the impact and harm caused, and move on to seamlessly continue operations.
Any business can fall prey to disruptions in service, and it's important to have a plan that helps to maintain continuity of services in such a situation. Every aspect of the business might be affected, some more than others, and there should be contingencies in place for processes, business assets, managing the workforce and so on. Such a business continuity plan, as it’s called, will outline detailed strategies on how the business can be continued even through any such outages, whether they are short term or longer in duration.
Cloud Computing technologies offer services over the Internet (or the ‘cloud’) to offer economies of scale, flexibility and ease of access from remote locations. Virtualization and Grid Computing are two types of Cloud technologies that can come in very useful when planning and implementing an Agile infrastructure and systems.
Virtualization transforms physical resources such as OS and storage into the virtual form and can be applied at various levels including that of the hardware, servers, storage and operating systems.
Grid computing is a computing resource that is distributed over grids, connected by parallel nodes that are networked. An example of a grid is an ATM network.
With industries becoming more demanding and businesses growing more competitive, Agile infrastructure and systems must be well designed and planned to operate efficiently, adapt easily and be resilient enough to recover quickly from unprecedented disasters. An Agile MIS infrastructure is designed to have all these characteristics and can help organizations to address challenges and meet goals, even in the face of uncertain markets.
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