With its roots stemming from the world of software, Agile project management methodologies are, not surprisingly, more often embraced by the IT and manufacturing sectors than by Corporate Development teams.
Further helping Agile’s cause in these disciplines is that their own products are developed in an Agile-like manner. This does not mean, however, that Agile’s principles cannot be applied to Corporate Development and the world of M&A and its stakeholders. What it does mean is that Agile will usually meet a bit more resistance when it is first integrated.
As with many areas of business, if we look to the past we can often learn valuable lessons for the future. With this in mind, today we’ll take a look at 3 common reasons Corporate Development teams have historically been weary of Agile.
When it comes to dealmaking, Corp Dev teams are used to customization vs. following a methodology like Agile.
This is seen with dealmakers and consultants who often come in, work on a deal, and then leave. Sure the work is completed, but in terms of PMO and education, little is left behind.
While there is nothing wrong with customizing to develop relationships and meet client needs, businesses doing more frequent deals (approximately 6 or more a year) would benefit greatly from Agile as they would become more efficient and close deals faster.
Those new to Agile might consider the fact that Agile principles seem to work best for “plug and play” acquisitions versus transformational acquisitions; therefore, these more traditional and frequent deals might be a good place for Corp Dev teams to begin implementing Agile.
Another “mental hurdle” when it comes to leaning into Agile for Corp Dev can be related to data. Practitioners have noted that at times Corp Dev teams are less interested in, or appreciative of, data and the information that can be extracted from it.
Again, this might tie back to Agile’s foundation as well as the tendency for Corp Dev teams to fall back on old playbooks. Agile’s methods, and Agile tools such as DealRoom, can provide data that when used correctly can solve problems in M&A that will make a difference. This data, such as the data pulled out of DealRoom’s platform, can provide a clearer analysis of trends and save companies time.
All too often Agile is presented in the form of a tool and the backers of the tool make it seem like the tool is a panacea.
This is obviously a bold claim, and it is hard to justify to Corp Dev teams that a single corporate development software can solve all of their problems (not to mention these teams have most likely been sold numerous tools in the past and are not too eager to learn another new one).
Certainly Agile-based tools can be helpful and support a transition to Agile-based project management, but the more realistic way to present Agile is through a vision and principles.
Developing a PMO using Agile methodologies can improve almost all aspects of M&A transactions - from diligence to integration - for all stakeholders. Specifically, with increased visibility, heightened employee buy-in, the ability to adapt to change, and efficient and realistic prioritization of tasks, hours of work can be saved and deals can come to completion faster.
Certainly, there may be some resistance, and companies may have to mold Agile to their specific needs, but ultimately, Agile is the way of the future. Perhaps more professional development and education that leaves behind tangible and realistic PMOs will help Corp Dev teams warm up to Agile.