SCM operations
SCM operations

Alternative name(s)

Fast Responsiveness


Flexibility is defined as ‘the capacity to adapt’, which reflected in four aspects (temporal, range, intention and focus).These four aspects define whether a area flexibility can be obtained. In order to evaluate the extent of flexibility, also has four measures tools to be considered. These four measure tools are efficiency, responsiveness, versatility and robustness (Golden & Powell, 2000).

Temporal is the length of time that it takes company to response to environmental changes. The flexibility of time can boost strategy flexibility. Range means to some extent, flexible company should have ability to adapt to foreseeable and unforeseeable activities. And for conquer the change of environment to do some strategy changes also reflect flexibility. Such as use defensive and offensive to control changes, this can achieve advantages of competitive (Golden & Powell, 2000).

To the measures tools: Efficiency is one metric of flexibility, which is the ability to maintain efficiency while fit the changes. Effectively reflection is a critical condition for flexibility. Responsiveness is the ability to cope with changes. Versatility means make plans, risks evaluations, and do a response strategies to foreseeable environment changes in future. Robustness, it means successful cope with unforeseeable environment changes, it can ensure organization in an unforeseeable environment do reflection and changes quickly (Golden & Powell, 2000). Flexibility can enhance organizations’ competitive advantages, improve work efficiency and effectiveness, and the communication in organization can be improved.

Agile values

Responding to Change over Following a Plan (Manifesto)--
Customers in product development is always changing requirements, even if the project is completed on time, within budget, and if the last is not fully imagine the same and they still are not satisfied. Customers never know to what until you see the product. Change in customer requirements and timely feedback to the work of departments, the whole plan changed accordingly; reflect the greatest degree of flexibility, and customer satisfaction with agile methods fullest extent (Sutherland, 2012)

Feedback(XP)--Feedback is a significant part in the communication, fast feedback system can boost flexibility. The good feedback can enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of work, the bad feedback can as guide to team to modify current activities. Also, customers' feedback should be paid more attentions, fast reflect changes and fast response to uncertainties as a key element to ensure the project success.

Courage(XP)--The project team do effective action in the face of fear. When the team met issues of uncertainties, with Agile management, the team members should be encouraged to do reflection as soon as possible. Further, before uncertainties come, the team should have courage to identify unforeseen problems and make a risk response strategy to effective address problems. Even if the risks were not identified before, the team should improve communications to find out measures to flexible response the issue.

Agile principles

Lean and Kanban Software Development:
Delivering as fast as possible: Lean Software Development emphasizes speed and development workflow efficiency, and between programmers and customers rely on fast and reliable feedback. Lean Software Development can impact on flexibility to promote organization structure, communication channels and the speed of feedback. It can help the project can response quickly to any changes and to any uncertainties. Flexibility emphasis on making decisions early and/or fast response, to reduce the complexity of changing later in the later stages of development (complexity includes; gaining commitment from stakeholders, product development costs will increase as it progresses, making it difficult to change; you will have to balance out the initial production costs against the benefit outcomes. Delivering as fast as possible may also gain early feedback from the customer and other stakeholders involved, gain competitive advantage for the firm and will enable early changes to improve the product (continuous improvement). Deming's PDCA cycle can support continuous improvement, through the extensive cycle of 'Plan', 'Do', 'Check' and 'Act'.

Eliminate Waste (ADS) - Being flexible is an approach that builds around change. Toyota is a good example of undertaking a lean methodology to manage their production; highlighting the importance of eliminating waste improve efficiency. Taking a lean approach is the most financial rewarding. It will enable firms' to be more responsive to market trends, deliver products faster and by eliminating waste in the production it will lead to lower costs to produce the products which will lead to less expensive products (Kilpatrick, J. 2003).

The focus is on frequent delivery of products (DSDM): DSDM includes two key aspects, namely controlling activity and working effectively in short time-scales. In order to frequent delivery and ensure the quality, the organization should has ability to foreseen uncertainties and make response strategy to adapt to uncertainties. ‘Using a product-based approach to managing projects is more flexible than a task-based one’ (Stapleton, 1997). The team member should base on fixed time to reflect to changes and risks to ensure delivery quality and time. in order to keep on time delivery, timely response changes is a key factor to ensure success.

Agile practices

Small Releases: This practice in agile enables organisations to create multiple releases of the product. This increases flexibility because changes can be made easier in smaller parts of the product, enabling a more controlled process of decision making. (Thomke & Reinertsen,1998). An example of this practice is used in the Boeing 777 program; they create part drawings and have multiple releases.

Scrum daily meetings (Scrum): In agile, using this practice tends to generate better decisions because it involves all stakeholders; a higher chance of buy-in from all stakeholders are likely if a decision is made during the meeting because it allows all stakeholder to take part in some form of decision making, making them involved in the project and will increase understanding of decisions made. This practice also enables the organisation to show, transparency and openness of the decisions made.

Refactoring (XP): A way of changing the existing code or product to make adding new features simple and to enhance feedback to make implemented code or product meets the customer expectations. Flexibility welcomes changes throughout the product development and refactoring is a practice which highlights change; emphasising on continuous improvement and quality.

On-site customer (XP): The main concern in changes for all projects and organisations are unstable customer needs (change in specifications, product requirements etc), which causes change to arise as the project progresses. On-site customer practice can help to continuously collaborate with the customers by generating customer feedback. This will ensure changes or issued are identified early, where flexibility of changing is appropriate.


In general, organisations' undertaking a traditional approach to managing projects find it difficult to change due to extensive documentations and planning. Making flexibility to change difficult to be implemented as the project progresses. They have a lower flexibility; all requirements must be defined early in the stages of the project before any work can be executed, this leads to wrong decisions being made, as there are no accurate information available during the early stages of the planning. Therefore, the traditional approach will be less vulnerable to change as their commitment are focused on their uncertain plans.
The traditional approach also has one whole release rather than multiple releases. This makes flexibility difficult in regards to making and changing decisions. If changes occur, it means the entire product/part has to be frozen; putting a halt to the work.

Whereas in agile, flexibility is the main aspect to the method; as the principles and practices shows, change is created to be flexible in all decisions such as refactoring, small releases, delivering as fast as possible. Agile builds around change.

Links from Flexibility to Change Management

In a rapidly changing environment, the management of change is critical for the project. For improve the change management, flexibility is a main role in the changing process. The project manager should ensure effective communication to staff, when has any changes all staff can reflection in time. If the organisation can decrease the time of reflection and foreseen environment changes in future and make response strategies, then the change management will be effectiveness and efficiency. Additionally, flexibility can help the organization control changes and foreseen uncertainties to some extents, which benefit to change management. In a project, if the change management is effective the cost will be decreased and it will increase satisfactions of stakeholders, therefore, the project will be completed with high quality.


Golden, W. & Powell, P (2000). Towards a definition of flexibility: in search of the holy grail? ScienceDirect. 28(4) August. pp 373-384 [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 25 March, 2013]

Stapleton, J. (1997) DSDM Dynamic System Development Method. Cmbridge: Cambridge University. Available at: [Accessed: 26 March 2013]

Sutherland, J. (2012) Agile Principles and Values. Available at: [Accessed: 25 March, 2013]

Thomke, S. & Reinertsen, D (1998). Agile Product Development: Managing Development Flexibility in Uncertain Environments. California Management Review, 41(1). pp 8-32

External links ...... A flexible way of managing IT projects ..............Management of Flexibility in Projects