From survive to thrive: How leaders can realign business process management post COVID-19
Businesses continue to evolve as the global macroeconomic scenario undergoes massive change. But given the technology disruptions we see today and their role in both enabling business processes as well as influencing newer business modes, the role of Business Process Management (BPM) as a central driver for Digital Transformation continues to grow.
It is time for business leaders to embrace the role of strategic BPM in the new normal and switch gears from their current reactive mode.
Reports suggest that most companies are being conservative about their spending on business process management (BPM) owing to a climate of uncertainty. HR, supply chains, finance & accounting, and customer service have all witnessed a dip in demand – anywhere between 0.5 to 2 points below the average. But this only defers the risk of change, instead of avoiding it altogether.
It is important to grab the bull by its horns and reimagine your company’s existing BPM approaches in anticipation of what is to come, rather than following a wait-and-watch policy. Those who can do so will gain a significant competitive advantage over laggards stuck in short-term, post-crisis strategies.
The problem with a post-crisis mindset
For most companies, the immediate reaction to a crisis like COVID-19 is to retract – solidify borders, reduce dependence, and focus on capacity maintenance vs. business growth. However, this leads to a three-pronged business challenge in terms of people, processes, and technology.
First, workforce planning tries to scale back and address contingency requirements, deferring growth plans. In a post-crisis scenario, this could lead to the organisation falling behind the competition.
Also, regarding processes, organisations primarily focus on maintaining BAU as much as possible during a crisis, using short-term transformation initiatives only, neglecting the long-term needs/implications of process restructuring.
Finally, stakeholders tend to turn their full attention to business enablers vs. business drivers, leaving companies ill-suited to fast-track recovery post-crisis.
The next important horizon
In Q3 and Q4, 2020, business leaders must look beyond crisis management and towards the future. A June survey by PwC found that 58% of CFOs are concerned about the possibility of a new wave of infection, and more than half expect a revenue downswing as a result. However, they are also eager to adapt to this constantly changing environment – 63% are already planning changes to their product/service portfolio.
There is also a reprioritisation of working models. While some companies implement “return to office” procedures, others are exploring permanent WFH in a bid to stave off future risks.
Indeed, 52% said that they are looking to improve their remote work experience – indicating a focus on growth and not just maintaining the status quo.
The next milestone for BPM leaders this year will be to reimagine strategies for a stronger market positioning in this new environment, shedding preconceived notions and expectations of a pre-pandemic world.
Ideas for recalibrating BPM towards sustained recovery
Traditional BPM models must give way to a whole new mindset that factors in the requirements of a post-COVID-19 landscape, including its myriad challenges and opportunities. This calls for a strategic pivot towards intelligent orchestration of processes, aided by Digital Transformation, instead of the traditional “management” imperative that relied on maintaining the status quo.
Some of the key elements requiring attention are:
Business leaders must be able to gain comprehensive visibility across the entire process lifecycle, executing, monitoring, and managing the various process components with a view on real-world outcomes. This could also include the timely remodelling of processes to support new business directions.
A strong understanding of a process’s dependencies and correlations with other business processes on the value chain is essential. A key deliverable of process architecture is a visual blueprint to guide business leaders when making decisions, factoring in all the resources, performance measures, indices, and regulations involved in executing activities across the entire value chain.
Human Interaction Management (HIM)
To build a collaborative and productive organisation, HIM should be at the centre of business process planning. This is more critical in a social distancing-ready world, as companies need to reimagine HIM with a digital-only focus.
BPM leaders can leverage Digital Transformation to improve various aspects of HIM like team structuring, communication, and knowledge management.
Complex Event Processing (CEP)
Cutting-edge technologies allow BPM professionals to closely monitor ongoing events and analyse the information generated in real-time.
By making CEP a top priority, companies can identify meaningful events -- both challenges and opportunities -- as they arise in a post-pandemic landscape, without any loss of time.
A Smart Agent powered by cognitive technology could effectively transform and crisis-proof BPM, by enabling smarter automation. A good example is Papyrus’ user-trained agent, which learns from the knowledge worker and recommends the next steps in real-time. Smart Agents can reduce human efforts and errors in the orchestration of large-scale processes significantly, empowering business growth.
Leveraging digitalisation as a driver for BPM for the future
Technology and Digital Transformation is an area where companies have escalated spending: particularly digital consulting (+ 1.4 points) and cloud migration (+ 0.9 points). BPM leaders must carry on and intensify this momentum – in this context, five trends will measurably impact and improve BPM strategies in the near future:
- Hyperautomation - BPM will be aided by intelligent automation, integrating RPA, iPaaS and AI
- Intelligent BPM - AI/ML will help to address ad-hoc and unplanned events in real-time
- Low Code to No Code - Dynamic process orchestration via no-code systems will enhance agility
- Reimagined collaboration - BOTS and systems will interact with minimal human interaction
- Data integration - BPM will ingest structured and unstructured data for smarter decisions.
Importantly, operational excellence (internally) and customer experience (externally) are the two KPIs for success for tomorrow’s BPM leaders, defining organisational resilience in the face of a crisis.
The new generation of BPM platforms will bring together all these aspects (hyperautomation, intelligence/cognitive technology, machine collaboration, data integration, and customer-centricity) in one solution.
The goal is not only to speed up recovery; digital drivers will help to action and enforce future-proof processes on-time, addressing the three-pronged requirements of people, processes, and technology in the new normal.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)