Research study

New AEB study: The future of global trade and logistics is agile

84% of companies believe that an agile approach lends a clear competitive advantage. Key success factor: an open corporate culture. Get the full results in the new AEB study.

Get the full research study in AEB's media center

On the rise in global trade and logistics: agile project management

84 percent of companies believe that an agile approach lends a clear competitive advantage, and two-thirds expect agile methodologies to eventually replace traditional project management in global trade and logistics. That’s the finding of this year’s research study by AEB and the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW) in Stuttgart, Germany.

The new report is titled “Agile Future – How Agile Project Management Is Transforming Global Trade and Logistics,” and features the insights of 55 experts in the areas of logistics, global trade, and IT across industry sectors in more than 8 countries.

It’s part of our annual global trade management research series and as a special bonus, this year’s study also includes practical tips for implementing agile project management.

Flexibility in a dynamic environment subject to constant change

Many global trade and logistics projects today are so complex and their environment so dynamic that traditional project management methodologies are no longer adequate. This landscape is not set to change – except that developments, especially those driven by e-commerce, new business models, and digitization, will take place even faster in the future.

This dynamic landscape is one of the key reasons for agile project management in global trade and logistics to be gaining ground. Flexibility and adaptability form an important and ever-increasing factor in customer satisfaction today, too, which is also reflected in our survey participants’ responses to the question what drives agile project management in organizations.

Drivers at a glance
Drivers at a glance

Key to success: management support and corporate culture

The most important prerequisite for successful agile project management is a corporate culture that is open to it. Nearly three-fourths of respondents, especially those under 50, see this as critical to success. Other key factors include support from supervisors and a radical willingness by those with management responsibility to adopt agility in their own roles.

This makes it clear that what we need here is a new awareness that permeates the entire company. Agile project management can only work hand in hand with a modern approach to management.

Experts look to agile project management for better results

Most of the experts taking part in the survey view agile methodologies favorably. This experience aligns with the basic principle of self-organizing teams in agile projects. You can take it for granted that greater freedom heightens the sense of responsibility and motivation of individual team members. Agile project management also scores high from a cost perspective, with 60 percent seeing lower project costs as likely.

Benefits at a glance
Benefits at a glance

What’s holding it back: experts fear lack of discipline

In addition to the many positive expectations, there are also some experts with concerns about the application of agile project management. Nearly one-third fears that the greater freedom of self-organizing teams will lead to a lack of discipline. To counter this risk, it’s important to assemble the right team and ensure that everyone is properly qualified.

It’s also important to train employees appropriately in the methodology. The most serious concerns about agile project management relate to the ability to stay within cost parameters: 56 percent consider budget overruns likely, and half of respondents also see risks in a greater need for coordination (54 percent) and inadequate project documentation (51 percent).

Obstacles at a glance
Obstacles at a glance

Explained in 3.5 minutes: watch the short interview

I hope our new research study can deliver some ideas and impulses to your organization. Interestingly, although most respondents see agile project management in global trade and logistics as positive and believe it will deliver a competitive advantage, only 36 percent of the companies have already begun using it. One-fifth currently plan on implementing agile project management, but 44 percent – predominantly from companies with fewer than 2,000 employees – have no such plans.

For most, the reason is not a lack of potential. It’s primarily a lack of proper expertise and the absence of standards. But we expect this gap to close in the coming years through the targeted training of high potentials. And it’s time for professional associations to now also step up and take more responsibility for supporting smaller businesses in introducing agile methods and implementing agile projects.

Get the full research study in AEB's media center

What’s your view? Please contact us in case of questions or for a personal discussion.