Scalability, Flexibility, Agility – Part 3

HR Technology

So what do flexibility and agility mean in an HR technology discussion? These two ideas may not always be in perfect synchronization as flexibility sometimes means customization and agility sometimes means the lack thereof.

While flexibility does not necessarily mean customization, a system would need to be highly configurable and adaptable to differing set-up parameters within an organization. Different business units within a company might have different practices that need to be codified to the HR technology in question. While the words “standardization” and “vanilla” have been popular lexicon for years, in practice, this has not proven to be sufficiently supportive in many cases.

That said, agility is the ability to change or create a new “something” (think business unit, acquisition, new product) without difficulty. Here, standardization and agility go well together since its certainly easier to create new environments if they are (almost) duplicates of others. I’m not totally convinced you have to give up a degree of flexibility to increase agility, but on my first pass, this seems to be generally true.

So “highly configurable” and deployable seem to be good models that present a good mix of flexibility and agility. This is probably an area where on-demand software makes a good play. In a perfect on-demand delivery system, multi-tenant applications are used to deliver non-customized solutions to a variety of customers. Because the systems are already installed (in a highly scalable data center) they simply need to be configured to an organization’s requirements. So they create some flexibility while accommodating some agility.

What do you all think about flexibility vs. agility?

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