Points of View

Enterprises should get used to constant process evaluation and WFH practices to survive not just the COVID-19 crisis, but the next crisis as well

May 1, 2020 Emily Coates

COVID-19 is introducing a whole host of new challenges for enterprises; the lessons we take from this crisis should be lessons we hold onto long after it ends.


Although COVID-19 is likely the most significant crisis to hit our modern global market, it’s sure to be far from the last. Looming threats of global conflict, natural disasters, climate change, and further health concerns increasingly permeate the global business conversation. How long different parts of the world will be dealing with COVID-19 and to what degree vary greatly. Therefore, enterprise leaders should think of COVID-19 as a crash course in dealing with the future of enterprise operations and treat the solutions as permanent rather than temporary.


Some practices that enterprises should get very familiar with if they want to survive this crisis include process mining and monitoring to stay on top of their company ecosystems, automating any processes that they can automate, and moving workforces to work from home (WFH).


Make process discovery and evaluation regular and consistent practices


Before enterprises can draw and implement plans for how to proceed during this crisis, enterprise leaders need to have a thorough and accurate understanding of their resources, operation requirements, and workforces. There are two main components of gaining this understanding: assessing your processes and assessing your workforce. Assessing processes is already a best-practice that you should implement (even if we weren’t having a world crisis); you can conduct it easily with process mining software. Implementing software for process mining can help you discover your organization’s processes, and it can even be a prescriptive tool for understanding which processes you can and should automate. As HFS has observed, COVID-19 has proved beyond a doubt that automating processes is necessary to ensure long-term sustainability for operations.


Once you have completed a swift and thorough inventory check on all fronts, the next step is to identify areas that require extra training or equipping.


Move your workforce to WFH, and be prepared to keep them there


For the parts of your workforce that cannot and should not be automated, the answer is simple: survey, survey, survey. According to experts on a recent webinar from TTEC, conducting surveys for every aspect of your human workforce as they shift to work-from-home (WFH) is vital. Through this practice, you can gain a clear and complete understanding of every aspect of your human workforce and their needs. What hardware and software technology needs do they have, and how will you meet those needs? Which members already have certain levels of hardware and training, and which members will need extra assistance with meeting these needs? Surveying allows for the most direct communication from your workforce, andf if you utilize it correctly, it can be the best way to ensure the information you’re receiving is as in-depth and accurate as possible.


Many enterprises may also be functioning with a globally dispersed workforce; however, geo-diversification doesn’t have to be the insurmountable obstacle it seems to be. Learning and remaining up to date about what technologies your global workforce has access to and what kind of local restrictions employees might be facing will help you better understand what they need to function their best. Be vigilant and keep in constant communication both directly and indirectly with your overseas workforce to make sure you don’t fall behind.


Some employees might have technology shortages that you need to meet, like providing home access to hardware or software. Some might need further training to function in a WFH environment. In fact, a lack of training in working from home can be more of a block to progress than you might realize, so a useful tool to make permanent for any modern workforce is an efficient program to train workers in how to develop and maintain a productive work environment at home.


After you have subverted the immediate dangers, move from triaging to scaling


Think of your first emergency actions as triage for your enterprise functions. Address the most pressing and necessary functions first. However, the longer the uncertainty of the current situation continues, the less time we likely have until the next potential crisis. Quickly progressing from the triage phase to scaling solutions and producing long-term sustainability is paramount.


Process mining software can assist with quick decision-making and smooth transitions in a crisis. These technological solutions are invaluable—not just in the initial triage stage but also in transitioning those immediate decisions into long-term scalable solutions. Having to adjust to yet another “new normal” in the future would be much easier with automated functions, and having constant and up-to-date knowledge of your enterprise processes means agility and precision. Thanks to the prescriptive capabilities of process mining software, the solutions you find will stay with you through the initial triage scale of a crisis all the way to getting those solutions to scale.


Enterprises can also extend WFH practices far past emergencies, and having a WFH workforce is a benefit for any organization in the long run. It saves brick-and-mortar costs and simultaneously provides a more flexible workforce that you can leverage back to brick-and-mortar if necessary.


The Bottom Line: Process discovery and working from home will be the new normal to adjust to and optimize.


History has shown us that it would be foolish to believe there isn’t another crisis waiting for us once COVID-19 has passed by. Get used to keeping constant tabs on your processes, automating them wherever possible, and having the majority of your human workforce operating from home. Enterprises that don’t figure out how to implement and maintain these practices now and permanently are setting themselves up for future failure.