Most salespeople are extremely agile. Extremely agile. Salespeople want to say "yes" to anything.
Agility is critical to success in sales. A great process is critical, too, but being flexible to meet each customer’s needs is equally critical.
Agility often breaks down once you get past sales. Operation teams often are far less agile by design. The less ambiguity in a process, the more reliable the process is. Salespeople count on the operations team to be reliable and deliver results consistently. Each time a process is not followed (even if it is for the right reasons), it introduces additional chances for problems.
It usually is a challenge when an operations team begins to transition to an agile approach. The people and processes are designed for success in a more rigid environment. Key performance indicators, software and people are fine-tuned for delivering great, reliable service.
The pace of business today requires your operations teams to be agile. If you already haven't started to make the transition, you need to do so soon. Install a strong leader who can properly balance decisions, as agility requires constant tradeoffs. A great team and great technology also must support that leader to allow for the agility while keeping the benefits of standardized processes wherever possible.
Agility is a hot topic in information technology areas, and nearly all IT departments claim to be agile in one form or another. There are many different agile methodologies, especially as it relates to software development, but most are centered around the Agile Manifesto. Agile development in software generally means that you have a vision (or story) for what you want the software to do, and you collaborate with the development team to design the software from beginning to end. Changes are made through the process, but stick within the user story.
The agile methods in IT can apply to any operations department. Build your processes to support the changes that may need to be made. Build those processes around a story and keep the story up-to-date. Also, remember to be bad at something. There are times that saying no to one request means allowing yourself to be more agile for all other processes.
Lastly, a word to everyone in sales: Your agility deserves praise, as your success drives company success. Without your success, there is no need for operations teams. Keep in mind that your agility often creates significant complexity, and for your operations team to be successfully agile, your agility has to apply to the operations as well as the sales side of the equation for ultimate success.