Process Management 3 mins read

Is resilience a quality or a skill?

Resilience is a much-admired quality, but it requires skills to make it happen. The German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) shows us how it’s done!

Dr. Helge Hess Dr. Helge Hess

Resilience is a much-admired quality, but it requires specific skills to make it happen.

In the current situation, companies and public authorities must be very flexible in rapidly changing scenarios. What were once considered normal procedures have changed massively within just a few weeks.

Some organizations are resilient enough for exceptional situations, they can survive and even come out stronger. But they have to gain the skills to do so first.

The German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) is one such resilient enterprise. DPMA manages all intellectual property rights for patents, utility models, trademarks and designs in Germany.

DPMA wanted to provide simpler and faster services for customers, but also to ensure efficient processes in its own business operations. A high level of data security was imperative, as was the ability to comply with many government regulations.

Digital agenda

In its “digital agenda” the Federal Government called for administrative processes to be examined and optimized before they are digitalized. Therefore, strategically oriented process management became the organizational basis of the DPMA’s digital strategy – and the skills foundation for its resiliency.

Taking stock of and analyzing the processes of industrial property rights patents and utility models was the starting point. DPMA wanted to gain experience with the methodology and the necessary IT support.

Using ARIS, the processes were analyzed, continuously improved and centrally published. The processes were then optimized and automated by means of a system for digital file processing. The digital workflow ensures that the electronic file is always forwarded to exactly where the next work step is to be completed.

Cross-sectional and basic services are now fully integrated into the process handling. In addition to optimizing DPMA’s internal processes, the entire processing chain for patent, trademark and utility model procedures, including the interface to customers, had to be considered.

“On the basis of fully digitized processing, we offer a comprehensive, legally compliant and media-consistent eGovernment service,” said DPMA president Cornelia Rudloff-Schäffer.

Enabling the home office

The extensive digitalization program was the prerequisite for setting up home office workstations and giving employees access to all processes and files from home. In 2019, the DPMA set up the 1,000th home office workstation; by the end of 2020, 1,200 staff members will be able to work from home.

Employees at DPMA can continue to work even in times when direct communication and interaction on the spot is limited, and to fully meet expectations with efficient processes.

The transformation to a digital, process-oriented organization meant a change in culture: Moving away from a strictly functional view and working method, towards a view of end-to-end processes and an understanding of the entire value chain or customer journey from the customer’s perspective.

When the end of this crisis is foreseeable, the aim is to gradually return to normality, but above all to learn lessons from it: The keyword here is continuity management. The DPMA is guided by the BSI standard 100-4, which is specified by the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI).

In early 2019, the DPMA launched a project to be prepared for crisis situations and, today, essential findings from this project are already helping it to cope with crises. DPMA will use the new findings from the current situation and the results of the project to be even better prepared – and more resilient – for future crises.