How process improvement can significantly boost business resilience

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How process improvement can significantly boost business resilience
Many of the long-term IT-related challenges faced by organisations prior to the pandemic still remain.
Photo by Charles Forerunner on Unsplash

As the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reverberate through corporate Australia, there is now a new appreciation for the concept of business resilience.

Having strategies in place that allow an organisation to continue to operate even as market conditions change quickly and dramatically, has become vital.  

To succeed in the year ahead, these strategies will need to build on what took place during the COVID-19 crisis. At the beginning of the pandemic, organisations of all sizes were forced to make rapid changes to their IT infrastructures and workflows to cope with a sudden need for staff to work from home.

Now, as conditions gradually improve, those changes have to be examined to determine whether they will continue to deliver benefits in 2021. Organisations need to be sure they have sufficient resilience to cope with anything that might lie ahead.

It’s very tempting to think that, now Australia has the virus seemingly under control, all our problems are over – that it’s simply a matter of using the technology and tools in place to get on with business life.

Unfortunately, however, the reality is somewhat different. Many of the long-term IT-related challenges faced by organisations prior to the pandemic still remain. These include:

  • A lack of IT governance: Many businesses still lack any sort of overarching IT governance strategy. When things are tackled on an ad hoc basis, it can lead to IT sprawl and a patchwork of disjointed, often incompatible platforms and tools.
  • Lack of process automation oversight: A lack of alignment between IT and senior management on strategic priorities for automation keeps many Australian companies from leveraging technology to streamline and improve operations.
  • Outdated IT approaches: While many companies have invested in new IT solutions, they remain attached to old methods that hold back change and stifle innovation. This is a key reason why many digital transformation projects fail to succeed.

Taking a process platform approach

Overcoming these perennial technology problems will require organisations to continue the hard work they have undertaken during the COVID-19 crisis. To push through and be prepared for the years ahead, a new approach to the way IT is designed, deployed, and managed is now needed.

Many businesses are coming to realise this new approach should incorporate the adoption of a ‘process platform’ strategy. This strategy positions IT as a set of modular, interoperable platforms that align with various business goals.

When applied in conjunction with low- or no-code software development tools, a process platform strategy can ensure digital transformation is more deeply rooted across all departments, thereby significantly accelerating business innovation.

Challengingly, the adoption of a process platform strategy will require a major mindset shift for most organisations. For this reason, planning the transition and tying it to measurable outcomes will increase the likelihood of success.

Five key steps that will help get the process started are:

  1. Systematise IT governance: Begin by reorganising your organisation’s existing IT infrastructure as a set of interoperable platforms. Then, follow a recognised Centre of Excellence model to ensure effective alignment between the business and IT.
  2. Document all processes: Deploy collaborative process design tools while at the same time making sure to involve frontline employees who have first-hand knowledge of existing process pain points.
  3. Build an automation road map: IT, operations and business staff will need to work together at this point to prioritise processes for automation. Those processes selected should be the ones that meet shared business goals.
  4. Select the most appropriate automation platform: Look for a platform with a full range of automation capabilities. This way, you will be able to choose the right automation method for each of the selected processes.
  5. Continuously improve: A process platform strategy is not something that is done once and then forgotten. The platform should also track performance for all automated processes, giving you visibility into their operations so you can continuously optimise them over time.

The power of the process

Among all the lessons that COVID-19 has taught organisations of all sizes, the power of the process is one of the most vital. Being able to adjust processes and workflows to suit remote working conditions has been paramount when it comes to minimising disruptions for staff and clients.

The organisations that succeed in the years ahead will be the ones that have achieved resilience through the examination and automation of their core processes. Taking the work that was completed during the shutdowns and improving upon it will deliver a process platform that will pay significant future dividends.

Christian Lucarelli is VP Sales Asia Pacific, Nintex

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