That's exactly what Agarwal did at Apollo Munich Health Insurance. In October 2011, Apollo Munich's operations team conducted a study to figure out how it could cut the amount of time it took to issue an insurance policy. The team, says Agarwal, looked at the six legs of the policy issuance process and asked the IT team to find a way to speed up multiple areas.
Agarwal knew that the business wanted the changes to be ready for the January-March cycle, when the insurance industry sees a surge in business, and Apollo Munich gets 45 percent of its business. He also knew that they were better off focusing their energies on compressing one key leg of the issuance process: Technical underwriting. Throwing all their energies into that one area, in his estimate, would allow the company to better scale up and meet the needs of the market.
The business heard him and Agarwal delivered. In just 75 days, Agarwal says, "we scaled up our capacity to handle much higher volumes. I recommend agile practices because you can quickly and dynamically align to changes in market conditions. With large projects, which run over years, you risk a lot of factors changing like business processes and customer expectations. Agile processes help you align to market forces."
In Ola Cabs' case, it could have waited until it had gotten its Web presence, call center and mobile app going before it launched. But it didn't. The company, which operates in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Pune, started operations without its mobile app. Five months after its website and contact center were up, Ola Cabs put out its mobile app. In the meanwhile it had figured out what customers really wanted and then created a unique app, one that none of its competitors can still match.
Aggarwal, however, ensured that the app didn't try to do everything and hence it could be put out in just under a month. "Users are okay with an innovative product which delivers one thing very well in the beginning and then gradually becomes much more feature-complete," he says.
That's an approach, Agarwal from Apollo Munich agrees to. "Target workable solutions instead of perfect solutions or risk losing your window of opportunity. Think agile and think what can be built in a 90-day timeframe," he says.
Another benefit of breaking up projects into smaller pieces and working on them one at a time, is that CIOs can build more agility. How? By putting out prototypes and asking for feedback, both business and IT get a better sense of what customers or users really want. This could result in deleting some requirements from blueprints--saving business-IT teams time. It could also lead to new realizations of what customers really want--which can then be fast-tracked.
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