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The Strategic Flexibility Approach in Solution Design

Compared with strategic management, strategic business analysis focuses on designing a sustainable solution in order the long term strategic goals and future demands to be fulfilled with the best way. Constant changes in internal and external environment require business analysts working on a specific solution to constantly assess solution approach and capabilities for success.

Strategic flexibility it terms of a solution may be defined as the ability of the solution to adapt to substantial, uncertain, and fast-occurring environmental changes that have a meaningful impact on the solution performance.


Strategic business analysis involves a future outlook. Detection of emerging threats and opportunities, prediction of their future impact, and the development of solution responses is something that should be considered before a solution definition. Ideally, the “future paths” should be incorporated in the solution itself in order “strategic adaptations” to be achieved with less cost and effort.

Because the environment is so uncertain and fast moving with many potential threats and opportunities, business analysts often finds it difficult to react using conventional business analysis approaches. Evaluating the likelihood and nature of the impact of each environmental change that can consequently affect the solution requires is challenging.


It is common that during the analysis phases of a solution definition, considerations of alternative ways to increase solution’s flexibility tend to be limited and ad hoc and not comprehensive, systematic, or formal.

Moreover, internal and external constraints on the style and experience of the business analysis team tend to dictate an inflexible approach that is not taking into account the future challenges and adaptations that will be necessary for the solution’s sustainability.




Another challenge in embracing strategic flexibility is the lack of objectivity in flexibility and scalability options. This is inevitable given the lack of information for the future conditions and the difficulties in predictions.  Options concerning sustainable solutions tend to be subjective and informal. Flexibility levels are rarely monitored or even measured. An example of a subjective KPI is the time and the cost required to modify core flows in a system or the time and effort required incorporating a new group of users in an existing solution.

Identifying assumptions that had been made during design phases is crucial in order to clear out the future state and to develop contingency plans that can contribute to lower time, cost and effort in future changes. Well-defined contingency scenarios with specific responses associated with each future specific event may be decrease the response time required, once those events occur.


Paying attention at the confirmation of the elicitation results and trying to find areas for sustainability and preparation to change improvement should be cultivated in business analysis approach.

Last but least working towards defining specific evaluation criteria concerning the long term horizon solution flexibility as a response to future events is essential in an era of fast – moving and numerous environment changes.

  1. David A. Aaker, Briance Mascarenhas, (1984) “THE NEED FOR STRATEGIC FLEXIBILITY”, Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 5 Issue: 2, pp.74-82,

Giorgos Sioutzos

Giorgos Sioutzos is an experienced business analyst currently working at Netcompany in the social security sector. He holds a BSc in Management Science and Technology from Athens University of Economics and Business and Msc in International Business & Management from ALBA Graduate Business School. Numerus articles about business analysis have been published in most reputable Greek and foreign media. He has created educational videos for IIBA Knowelge Hub. Also he has contributed as an SME for Global Business Analysis Survey creation from IIBA. Certifications: CBAP, PMI-PBA, ITIL, PRINCE2, CPRE Advanced