The COVID-19 crisis has presented business leaders and their teams with an extraordinary challenge, both professionally and personally.
The ‘Great Lockdown’ has seen many organizations transition to remote working environments, forcing shifts in working models that might have taken a decade to within mere weeks. As a result, enabling teams to virtually communicate effectively and efficiently, adjusting to peaks or dips in demand, and ensuring business continuity have all ranked high on the priority list.
From a broad view, this moment in time has highlighted the urgent need for decentralization of both staff and process management.
On top of this, financial stress, health concerns and uncertainty for the future have had an inevitable impact on our mental health. This crisis calls for understanding and empathy, and an adjustment of expectations while teams navigate parenting or caring responsibilities among workloads.
The COVID-19 crisis is unprecedented—no business could have prepared for such a significant disruption. There is no emergency master plan to follow when the social and economic levers of society are being pulled in directions previously unobserved; it’s up to business leaders to forge their own course of action based on what is most critical to their company.
One thing is certain, however. To be able to respond, restore and recover from the fallout of COVID-19, organizations must act fast, meet challenges with a new perspective and now, more than ever, focus on collaboration.
Here are five reasons why digital transformation is an effective crisis response.
Respond, don’t react
In a crisis, the first consideration for every business leader is their people. Consider what your employees are going through and what actions must be taken to protect their wellbeing. The next focus is creating a plan to protect your business.
Disruption calls for new ways of thinking; in our day and age, this means digital transformation.
Business leaders must adapt by finding solutions to re-invent business models and enable alternative ways of working and collaborating—but there are both short- and long-term implications to consider.
The strength of your emergency response depends on your ability to be flexible enough to survive immediate disruptions while ensuring any short-term changes support business continuity and strengthen future processes. Using foresight to create an effective emergency plan eliminates any reactive decision-making, which could cripple a business in the long run.
The beauty of a process-driven digital transformation is that it bolsters certainty in this foresight through preserving collaboration, maintaining operational performance and solidifying business process management solutions.
Communication is key
Once you’ve established an emergency plan, the next step is to communicate it company-wide.
As COVID-19 sees teams confined to their homes across varying geographic regions, communicating on an enterprise-level becomes more challenging. The same goes for workers collaborating within the same team, let alone different business areas.
To maintain workflow consistency and efficiency requires a whole new digital dimension, otherwise known as a ‘single source of truth’. To ensure end-to-end execution, businesses must create standardized workflows that can be deployed throughout a company and executed in the same way, no matter where staff is located.
Establishing a single source of truth for how to operate during and immediately following a crisis separates thriving businesses from those that are just surviving.
While the gears might be shifting internally, from an outside perspective, it’s important to carry on as close as possible to ‘business as usual’.
Digital transformation via a single source of truth reinforces a strong process management framework, as all business activities are clearly modelled and understood by staff; this means you will be able to maintain as close to normal positive customer experiences, even under challenging circumstances.
When process automation is thrown into the mix, activities within key business areas continue without a second thought, meaning customers are prioritized on auto-pilot mode. In turn, this reduces customer churn and boosts loyalty among your existing client base.
Staying customer-centric is a crucial ingredient to success in a crisis. After all, there is no point in trying to recover from a crisis only to emerge with damaged customer relationships in the process.
Stress test for long-term resilience
Within most organizations, there are groups of people solely responsible for specific processes. But when something unexpected happens that forces processes to scale-down or ramp-up as a result of changing demand, processes often need to be reviewed.
Simulation is a digital method used to make informed decisions by testing the operationality of various scenarios and maintaining efficiency, even when demand peaks and troughs. Put simply; it enables testing of different outcomes to ensure one scaled-down process will not impact your overall value chain.
Stress testing through simulation enhances agility and builds resilience. It allows you to pinpoint the most efficient allocation of resources and people, or the most impactful process changes to implement with the resources you have available.
Refine your processes
To simulate operational processes effectively, you must intrinsically understand them first. Strong process management, combined with a process analysis tool, provides a comprehensive view of the way your business ‘actually works’, not just how it is intended to work.
Micro-level vulnerabilities in business processes can impact an organization on an enterprise-level via bottlenecks, loss of performance or compliance and processing delays. Process mining is an example of an analysis tool that seeks out these vulnerabilities, allowing for detailed insights and a transparent visualization of how processes work, as well as opportunities for optimization.
At the core of process mining is an understanding of operations across all levels, and a regular feedback loop to refine these processes when new challenges arise. When crisis strikes, process mining rapidly identifies pain-points, so your business can quickly find a solution to ensure it gets back to running smoothly.
There is always a silver lining to a challenge. With digital transformation, disruption can become an opportunity to enhance mission-critical processes to support process excellence, and deliver long-term benefits through short-term flexibility.The lesson here is to stick to the fundamentals, and take them forward with you to the other side of this crisis; not only intact, but improved.