There’s no question that COVID-19 has exposed companies’ ability to react to crises and proven why process automation is so inherently essential to business continuity in a digital age.
As companies shifted to a work-from-home format, many found their paper-based and manual processes simply stopped working. A recent webcast with Rob Koplowitz, VP & Principal Analyst at Forrester, Inc., and David Kroll, Senior Product Marketing Manager at K2, examined how COVID-19 is not just breaking processes. It’s creating the new “business as usual” too.
How “business as usual” is shifting
As businesses shifted towards remote work, we learned that traditional patterns around how many of us work simply will not work for long. For many companies, the pace of business has had to change—and this is becoming the new normal.
Many businesses were well on their way to a digital transformation, but those that weren’t are struggling. People are separated from paper files, person-to-person processes are disrupted, and companies have to take on new automation priorities. There are new loads on back-office systems that simply cannot be supported with current technologies, and automated processes have hit long wait states.
Leading industry research firm Forrester, Inc. found a number of complications as companies made the transition. For example, large financial services organizations could no longer onboard customers or recognize revenue. Municipalities also struggled to recognize revenue, and there were massive inefficiencies from processes that required co-location.
So how did we get here?
“Two-thirds of business leaders have encountered processes that do not work or are not optimal in situations with many more remote workers,” says Koplowitz, “and this is something we could have seen coming.” In fact, before COVID-19, Forrester conducted a survey that showed huge dependencies on paper and email across industries. While 76% of businesses depended only somewhat on paper, 63% still depended largely on Excel and email (electronic manual routing).
Now, 61.7% of businesses say their goals and strategy for process automation are changing in light of new work patterns. And according to Rob Kolowitz a traditional business process management (BPM) mindset really won’t work for this. “Think about what you would traditionally do with BPM,” he says. There are huge coding cycles. It’s all hands on deck, with massive amounts of upfront planning and relatively high failure rates. Everything’s a major process with huge implications.”
In urgent process automation mode, you have to be focused on the next 1,000 applications that serve an individual need, whether that’s onboarding, claims management, or matter management. Using a BPM framework, says Koplowitz, would be “like moving a bunch of speed boats in unison. It’s a very different motion.”
Where do we go from here?
We know that the ability to move and automate quickly—especially based on unknown factors—is going to become the new normal for businesses worldwide. So how do we get there?
In order to automate at massive scale, you first have to think about technology governance. You’ll need to ensure you have the right people making decisions and executing change, from technology experts to business experts to change managers, and people to inform your decisions, like customer experience and GRC (Governance, Risk and Compliance) professionals.
Then, you’ll need to assess your reaction so far to COVID-based process challenges. “Did your technology portfolio support your needs?” asks Rob Koplowitz. “Did your process strategy support your needs? If so, stay the course and make it the new normal. If not, start thinking about your automation journey and why it will be so important moving forward. Assume rapid and agile automation is the new normal, and don’t put this on the backburner.”
Of course, you’ll need to nail down your technology stack. K2 Cloud allows you to develop applications 78% faster than with traditional development, for business continuity and efficiency gains at a reduced cost.