Process management exists to align our business functions with customer needs, to increase efficiency and effectiveness with lower costs and less risk.
During business as usual, these practices contribute to less errors and greater customer satisfaction. However, when the unexpected occurs, the importance of process management can come to the fore as a way of ensuring effective and well-planned responses with the minimum of interruptions to your business.
This blog post will highlight why facing the unexpected is a process opportunity.
Beyond the day-to-day
Most businesses are aware of the importance of process management. In everyday business, a strong process culture and healthy process management approach provides a foundation for teams to develop better ways of working, to benefit both the business and its customers.
These kinds of process efforts focus on daily operations: managing financial transactions, improving customer engagement and enhancing employee workflows. These processes guide teams and encourage innovation and improvement in the day-to-day execution of essential tasks.
The real test, though, comes when people are under pressure, and when situations occur that call for rapid decision making. While building robust and effective processes is challenging during business as usual, when crises occur it becomes essential.
When, not if
The world in recent years has shown us that a curveball can come from any direction. Natural disasters, financial crashes, international conflicts, and political upheavals can all have a direct impact on business operations. While it’s impossible to predict what is around the corner, it’s not unrealistic to expect that teams will have the capacity to deal with it effectively.
Up to 40 percent of businesses don’t have a disaster recovery plan in place. That jumps to nearly three-quarters of small businesses. Anything from facing a DDoS (Dedicated Denial of Service) attack on company computer systems to having half the workforce unable to reach their usual workplace because of a once-in-a-century weather pattern could seriously disrupt business.
The flow-on effects can impact everything from IT, finance, HR, and customer service. It’s essential then that any disaster management plan includes all those factors, with buy-in from all departments, to ensure it’s informed, up to date and covers the vital functions.
Risk management 101
The best time to develop a disaster plan is not when a crisis is unfolding. That can lead to improvisation and even panicked responses, inflicting long-term damage on your business operations, customers, and brand. Ideally, any response to an emergency has been planned and tested before the event.
When the worst happens, it’s essential that every team knows the threshold for triggering a disaster response, and what their responsibilities are under it. This comes back to basic process management. How do teams communicate with employees and the rest of the business if they can’t be on-site? How does essential data flow if one location, data center, or region is offline?
Plans for these eventualities need to be tested. With the rapidly changing business environment, disaster recovery or management plans can’t remain static and hope to be effective.
As with any process, they need regular reviews and updates to ensure they accurately reflect the organization’s operations and context. Process owners and stakeholders should be aware of their current state and be able to put the processes into effect the moment disaster strikes.
Easy to find, easy to follow
Even if a disaster plan hasn’t been built, sound business process management can still make a difference in a time of crisis. In a disaster situation, it’s imperative for teams to act with the minimum of delays, limiting any damage that could result from an unexpected situation.
Good process management practices and clear, easy-to-grasp processes can make all the difference when staff need to make rapid decisions under unusual pressure.
That means it’s vital to make it simple to find and follow clear process information. When emergency services are signaling a crisis, no one will make time to flick through a phone-book-sized procedure manual that hasn’t been updated since it was printed.
An effective, cloud-based portal for process information will allow teams to easily access the information they need from anywhere, and robust, digestible process documentation ensures the procedures can be followed without delay.
Setting up a good process management
Ideally, an organization will prepare for unexpected business interruptions before they become a reality. That should include bringing everyone in the business in on the plan. Often staff on the front line will have the best idea of how various crises could impact their department.
Collaborative, creative problem-solving will ensure that disaster recovery and management plans are robust, with evolving and effective procedures for communicating and continuing essential business operations.
Having those procedures ready at hand and easy to comprehend will ensure that instead of panicked employees ‘flying by the seat of their pants,’ there will be a state of relative calm, with the right people knowing what to do and able to execute the agreed plans with confidence.
Weathering the storm
A glance at just about any newspaper headline confirms that businesses can’t realistically expect to avoid facing extraordinary circumstances.
Putting in the effort to build, test and maintain healthy disaster management practices can make a big difference to your customers, your employees, and your business.
By setting up crisis procedures on a foundation of good process management, you can ensure that while the unexpected is bound to occur, disruption doesn’t have to spiral into destruction.
To learn how visual process management software like Nintex Promapp® can help you effectively manage your organization in good times and in a crisis, sign up for a demo today.