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Riding the Waves of Economic Uncertainty

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Riding the Waves Of Economic Uncertainty
Rob Gaunt
on May 28, 2023

As a transformation and delivery services provider, I’ve had the privilege of coaching leaders, executives, PMO, and Delivery leads across a broad client base, with a combined capital value of over $1.4 trillion! It’s because of this reach that I’m being asked quite frequently “what am I seeing in market?”. Given the level of interest, I thought it warranted taking a moment to write down my thoughts, in a way that I can explain it easily and demonstrate how these shifts are impacting even our own (EPiC) response. Our clients are shifting their focus and asking for help in ways they’ve not asked us before.

As our clients have adjusted their investments with EPiC, I’m able to extrapolate where their focus has shifted and I’m going to do my best to share the insights that I’ve gained from these conversations. 

In fact, the shift has been so evident that we’ve decided to adapt our own services in response (hey… we preach adaptability right?) – maybe you could trust this as a barometer from which to draw your own conclusions?

Noticing the Market Trends, Renewed Discipline, and Adapted Services

It is without a doubt that we’ve seen a marked uptick in interest in our Lean Business capabilities. While these have always been at the centre of our transformation services, we’ve developed a number of niche services such as Flow to Value Reporting, which identifies where their delivery bottlenecks are and why it’s taking so long and costing so much to deliver value.

Where previously we were providing health checks and growth plans for teams, we are now providing our clients with insights into their portfolio and program health. This is so they can see where they are falling down and where there is room for improvement at the departmental and enterprise levels. We’ve been asked over and over again to help them to reduce the amount of “waste” in their business operations.

It’s clear to us that businesses are struggling to identify and reduce non-value adding activities, remove impediments, increase their efficacy and cut delivery costs. To that end we have been asked to provide EPiC delivery practitioners (including Agile Project and Program Managers) that come ready made with the skills necessary to achieve these outcomes, as there is pressure to deliver on these objectives sooner rather than later. 

A renewed focus on good old fashioned know-how.

Over the last few months, I’ve learned that many of our historical clients feel they’ve been moving at such a rapid pace over the last few years, that they’ve come to realise their Agile delivery teams may lack some of the discipline they once had.

Now more than ever, there’s a focus on work-based activity reporting – ensuring that work is ‘strategically’ valuable, and improving the predictability of when they will deliver. This has highlighted a gap they’re starting to feel between their traditional PMO capability and their Agile Delivery practices.

In recognition of this, we have just released an Agile PMO service and for those that have already blended their capabilities, a “step up” program to help them shift toward a Value Management Office. This involves shifting from managing the day-to-day project operations to stewarding outcomes. This renewed focus on discipline and data is vital for our clients navigating the challenges of the current economic landscape. We have also been asked to provide support around JIRA and ADO configuration, to ensure that activity based reporting and outcomes are able to be trusted and simplified.

Leveraging Business Agility, Cultural Strength, Market Trends, Renewed Discipline, and Adapted Services

On a positive note, thanks to the investments our clients have made in business agility, I’m hearing that many of our clients feel that they are in a pretty good position to be able to respond rapidly to any changes that they see in the economic landscape –  especially those that have successfully shifted their operating models to be more dynamic through the application of Quarterly Delivery Cycles. However, there have been some significant shifts in their strategic objectives, and this is requiring a greater than usual amount of re-planning and prioritisation. As such, we’ve been providing extended support and capacity to their QDC events such as Big Room Planning and Quarterly Business Reviews. 

As I’ve watched clients navigate these rough seas, I’ve also been inspired by how they continue to prioritise their company culture even in the face of adversity. Sure, employee satisfaction scores might be taking a hit right now (just accept that this is bound to happen during uncertain times), but they seem to be keeping their culture front and centre so that they’re able to maintain morale, engagement, and productivity. 

My only advice here is even if you are considering (or have already) needed to let some staff go, by continuing to foster open communication, supporting each other’s well-being, and celebrating achievements (even the small ones) – you will reap the rewards on the other side of the economic challenges. The sense of camaraderie and solidarity can help everyone (including you personally) weather the storm better.

Drawing Your Own Conclusions from My Insights

Now more than ever it’s essential to leverage the investments you’ve made in building business agility capabilities. The skills and knowledge you’ve gained working with EPiC over the last few years are there to be tapped into and mobilised. Embrace the adaptability you’ve developed, adapt rapidly to market trends, and use all of it to navigate the challenges that lie ahead.

In these trying times remember that you have the tools and expertise to make the most of the situation. Keep your company culture strong, focus on the resilience and adaptability you’ve cultivated, and renew your commitment to disciplined delivery practices. As we at EPiC adapt our services to meet the changing demands, you can do the same for your own business. 

I’ve shared my insights and observations with you and now it’s up to you to draw your own conclusions and chart your course through these uncertain waters. Remember, you’re not alone on this journey, and we’re here to help you navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. 

If you are interested in hearing more about our new Delivery or Lean Business Operations services, don’t hesitate to reach out at any time and I’d be happy to discuss how we are helping our other clients with their own rough weather plans.



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