Reimagine Your Core Business Processes in 2021
When the COVID-19 pandemic began early last year, businesses of all sizes realized the urgency of making rapid changes. Processes that had functioned well when the majority of employees were office-based had to be quickly reengineered to cope with a predominantly remote workforce. Everything from reporting and administrative tasks to customer service and supply chain management needed to be rearchitected in just a matter of weeks.
Now, early in 2021, organizations are taking stock of what they achieved (rapidly in many cases) while considering the road ahead. Many are coming to the sobering realization that there is still much work to be done to digitally transform.
The challenge stems from the fact that many process changes were undertaken with very little planning. Band-Aid solutions were put in place to address immediate challenges with little thought about the long-term implications they might have.
In many cases, management also underestimated the overall impact the virus would have. It was tempting to think it would be a short-term crisis that, while being exceptionally disruptive, would pass relatively quickly and life would return to normal.
This is clearly not the case. With case numbers still climbing around the world, businesses must now recognize that the disruptions faced during 2020 will need to be managed for the long haul.
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Workplace 2021: Reimagine Business Processes
For this reason, the task of reimagining business processes should remain a priority. Businesses must carefully review those changed in haste at the start of the pandemic to ensure they are meeting the needs of the organization and providing staff with the support they require.
There are additional elements that must also be considered in relation to business processes. Factors such as risk and compliance need to be carefully evaluated to ensure they continue to be met in what is still an uncertain and constantly changing work environment. Any failure to do this could have long-term, negative implications for the business.
Organizations should take several key steps to ensure their core business processes will continue to function effectively during the ongoing disruption and changes caused by COVID-19. These steps include:
- Document key processes: With large numbers of staff continuing to work remotely or in staggered shifts, it’s vital that everyone has clarity on the processes that are in place and how they function. The first step is to use an effective tool to document each process and store the details in a central, readily-accessible location. This makes it easy for staff members to check process specifics and ensure they are following correct procedures.
- Bring staff along on the journey: Effective process management cannot be done by senior managers in isolation. Involve all staff in the activity because the people who use processes daily are often the ones best placed to suggest improvements.
- Don’t delay starting: The best time to begin the refinement of business processes is today. It might be tempting to delay work until there is more clarity around the extent of long-term COVID-19 disruption, however starting work immediately will drive substantial business benefits.
- Land and expand: It can be a little overwhelming to consider what changes might be required across all the processes within an organization. For this reason, begin with a proof of concept (PoC) project and scale up gradually, over time. Success doesn’t rely on taking a ‘big bang’ approach but is more likely to be achieved if the task is broken down into bite-sized chunks.
- Seek out recommendations: Constantly seek feedback from staff on what is working and what may need to change. Recommendations regarding potential process improvements should be encouraged and openly discussed.
- Continuously evolve: Effective process management is never a set-and-forget exercise. Considering adopting an agile methodology that will allow incremental changes and improvements to be made over time.
Effective and efficient business processes have never been more important. As business conditions continue to shift as a result of ongoing virus-related pressures, taking the time to review and redesign your organizational processes will pay significant dividends in the months and years ahead.
About the Author
Chris Ellis, technical director at Nintex, gained invaluable experience in SharePoint, Office 365 and the Nintex Platform as a pre-sales solution specialist within the partner network. Hailing from Aberdeen in Scotland, his work with the Nintex Platform exposed him to the full lifecycle from analysis and requirement gathering to delivery, support and training, contributing across a spectrum of projects in various industries and in some interesting places.