The following article is specially authored by John Burkett, a successful entrepreneur and chairman at Appenate.
Times are tough, but it’s also the best time to give some attention to updating your systems and processes.
Nobody in business will need to be told about the impact that COVID-19 has had on the business community. Like all shocks there are winners there are those less fortunate.
For some, it’s about survival. Others, such as food supply chain and logistics companies, are swamped with extra demand.
Most will sit somewhere in the middle, a few with some gains, a few with some losses, but all being well, still in business.
So for those not sitting at one of those two extremes, what is the best course of action right now?
Hibernate Or Plan Ahead?
The usual mantra in such situations is to batten down the hatches, turn off spending and investment to preserve cash. Effectively try to hibernate until this is all over.
In some cases, that will be the right thing to do, but there is an alternative approach. Some are seeing a potential long term opportunity in the downtime that many businesses are facing. What better opportunity could there be than right now to take the time now to work ‘on’ the business, rather than ‘in’ the business?
Over the last few weeks, a modest – yet identifiable – trend has emerged. It’s a trend driven by those with the foresight to think about where they want their business to be when the first glimmers of some return to normality emerge on the horizon.
They want to have their businesses in the best possible position to capitalize on that opportunity when the day dawns. Because there’s one thing you can be sure of, that day will dawn.
Getting into Pole Position
So, what can you be doing right now to be in ‘pole position?’ On the front row of the grid come the restart?
Do you have some time available? Do you have smart, tech-savvy staff stuck at home that are itching to contribute value in some way?
Then it’s time to take a look at your systems and processes. Think in particular about where the ‘pain points’ or the bottlenecks are in your existing processes and systems. Think about how deploying mobile devices could alleviate those pain points or bottlenecks. The core thinking here is around the concept of ‘Information at the point of activity.’
Here are a few prompts to help guide that analysis and thinking;
- Do you have processes or systems where information is manually captured – maybe on paper forms that need to be keyed in later?
- Could existing processes be made simpler/easier/faster if additional relevant information was available on a mobile device at the point of activity?
- Could processes of permission or authorization be made quicker/smarter/easier and used to improve customer experience?
- Are there compliance requirements that require data collection and proof of activity that need to be met, or maybe even will need to be met in the new post-COVID-19 environment (think proof of cleaning records, that kind of thing)?
- Will the post-COVID-19 world requires you to address your customer interface, record keeping and other business processes differently and in a way that lends itself to the use of mobile devices?
- Do you have the ‘islands of information’ problem? Different information held/recorded in different systems that could usefully be bought together at the point of activity? Could deploying a custom app capable of talking to multiple back end systems fix this?
These are just a few ideas. But you get the gist. Some of these themes may already have been on your radar but parked under the ‘we will get to it one-day’ heading.
Well, what better ‘one day’ could there be than the downtime of today!
A System That Works
The other key thing to keep in mind when you start thinking about the solution is the nature of the system you need to deploy.
Remember, you’re dealing with business process data. So you don’t need to worry about ultra-fancy user interfaces and fancy graphics. It’s about finding a system that you can represent your business process in.
Ideally without the need for any expensive custom programming.
To save going down blind alleys’ make sure you select an easy to use business process app designer platform that lets you easily create and modify your own application. You’ll need one that supports plugins to a wide range of back end host systems.
Appenate is a platform that ticks many of these boxes. Sure, a little thought and effort may need to be deployed to bring it all together and make it work the way you want it to. But getting it right is well worth the effort.
Keep in mind, now is an ideal time to be looking at these things. Also, keep in mind that other smart people with foresight will be looking at this as well. Maybe even your current competitors. Maybe even a new competitor with a new updated process that you haven’t seen yet!
Find The COVID-19 Silver Lining
It can be hard to see an upside in the current environment.
But a little creativity, foresight and forward-thinking on your systems and processes now, may pay significant dividends when things start to return to normal.
More From The Appenate Team
See some of our other COVID-19 blog posts below, or take advantage of a special offer we’re running right now – 90 days for $90. Details here.