In recent months the most digitally innovative companies have been much more able to navigate the disruption of COVID-19. This has allowed them to both limit the impact of COVID-19 and also to take advantage of opportunities. Process management and automation have played a large part in this. For many, the immediate priority has been to rapidly build new processes that respond to new challenges and opportunities in the market such as supply chain problems or the unprecedented demand for small business loans.
“We expect this time to have a lasting effect on the way businesses work. Leaders can now see that in order to protect their future, they need to replace manual processes and rigid systems with agile technologies that enable them to adapt,” says Gustavo Gomez, Bizagi CEO.
It will be a while before organizations can operate under more normal circumstances, so businesses need to reassess their plans for 2020 and beyond. Here are three ways that the automation of processes can help aid and accelerate business recovery:
1 – Alleviating the burden of manual tasks
90% of employees are burdened with repetitive tasks which could be easily automated, according to Information Age. Tasks such as form-filling, data extraction, data validation, and order processing can be completed by bots, freeing up your employees to carry out more valuable tasks, or even stepping in when your human workforce is unavailable.
There are multiple points in the supply chain that can benefit from automation. ITProPortal observes that automation has become essential during lockdown. “Without semi-automated warehouses and distribution centers, it would be impossible for businesses like Amazon and Ocado to get essential goods to consumers at the scale those goods are being purchased.”
Using a digital process platform like Bizagi means you can unify all your data, so you only have to enter data once, rather manually upload it to several disparate systems. You can also replace paper forms with Bizagi forms, which removes a huge need for subsequent data entry. This will feed data directly into your process and can often be integrated with other systems like your ERP.
2 – Orchestrating your enterprise operations
The proven way to quickly digitize your new processes and make them standard operating procedure is through low-code process applications that orchestrate your people, systems, and data. Process automation has been at the core of digital transformation since the last financial crisis when organizations across the globe turned to business process management software to unlock efficiency and cost savings.
Now, more than ever, processes that used to be carried out in person need to be reconsidered. You should map out your organization’s workflows and automate tasks to improve efficiency, speed up processes, and ultimately, ensure business continuity.
But Ed Gower, VP, Solutions at Bizagi, highlights that it’s not all about automation. “It’s about defining an orchestration across tasks, which some of which may still maintain to be manual. We may put elements of automation within the steps here, but we also want to be able to orchestrate the overall task when we do that,” he said in the webinar How to Accelerate Business Automation in the time of COVID-19.
Having this orchestration across the entire organization will also help you to be flexible during these times of change. An orchestration layer gives you the added advantage of being able to make agile enough to always ensure compliance.
“One of the things that’s going to be very important is that there’s an agile business foundation, because since we don’t know the possible outcome, we need to be able to plan for more than one,” says Rachel Brennan, Senior Director of Product Marketing.
“That’s where business process modeling really comes into play as you’re able to look at the current scenario and then look at four or five different ones… and what might eventually become the new normal,” she explains.
3 – Building the foundation for artificial intelligence
Orchestrating and automating your processes brings order and efficiency to your organization. But introducing Artificial Intelligence (AI) on top of your processes has the potential to introduce further benefits. AI allows organizations to deliver new services that drive better customer experience and competitive advantage by making better use of the data you have available through machine learning and answering questions for customers.
The predictive abilities of AI are proving useful following COVID-19. The technology can help match demand and supply by examining data to ensure that manufacturers are not over or under-producing based on changes to external demand. Similarly, it can help with predicting staff requirements and cash-flow forecasting by analyzing data, so organizations can plan their next business year accordingly.
If you’d like more advice on how your organization can continue with effective business operations following COVID-19, download our 3-Step Guide to Business Continuity. You’ll find out how to design new processes for collaboration, reassess your risk management, and automate processes for greater efficiency.