Process Management 3 mins read

Process management trends 2020: Midyear update

During “business as unusual,” process management becomes the bedrock of resilience.

Dr. Helge Hess Dr. Helge Hess

Any predictions from the beginning of 2020 have been upended by the current pandemic.

In many industries demand collapsed, supply chains were interrupted, delivery delays and bottlenecks threatened, and employees furloughed, laid off or sent home.

In the shadow of the lockdown, the main priority of many CEO’s has been to ensure the survival of the company. Today, companies are defining procedures for a new normality.

But what does this actually mean for process management? How have the top 10 priorities from beginning of the year changed, and what topics have been added?

Looking at my January predictions, I can see there are important topics which were not on the list:

  • Business continuity management has become the central topic on management floors, as they analyzed the effects of the crisis and started emergency activities and implementing Business Continuity Management Systems.
  • Process adjustments due to new health and safety standards have been adopted in nearly all countries: Companies must develop an organizational concept that reduces contact among employees to a minimum.

On the other hand, some of my original trends have been solidified by COVID-19:

  • The pressure to optimize is more urgent than ever: Adjusting capacities to the volatile demand situation, defining potential cost savings, and determining which projects are a priority – these are all part of resilience.
  • Business model – from concept to action: Some industries, such as travel or tourism, have had their entire business models called into question (because the core product and demand has been lost for a time). And others (e.g. retail) where policies and guidelines have changed dramatically redefined essential processes and work instructions. Looking at the global supply chains at risks a rethinking of the partner ecosystem is an essential aspect for adapting business models.
  • Customer-oriented processes: More than 50 percent of the most successful online shops now sell their products via their own websites, and also in parallel with online marketplaces such as Amazon or ebay. Retailers must analyze the changed customer journeys and customer behavior at the relevant touchpoints and to adapt backend processes accordingly.
  • A single point of truth: It is important to inform employees about new procedures, work instructions and guidelines that may have to be implemented very quickly in the event of a crisis. This becomes even more important when employees work from home or in rolling groups. Defining BCM systems as part of an enterprise management ensures new information reaches each employee in a role-specific and verifiable manner.
  • Process mining: Companies must be able to quickly identify suppliers and material movements that could be affected by COVID-19. And they need to understand the impact this will have on the delivery reliability. Process Mining replaces blind flight with complete transparency.
  • Robotic process automation (RPA): Stable, rule-based processes can be automated with RPA to ensure the continuity of employee-driven processes, even in the event of staff shortages.
  • The license to operate: Companies have understood that – especially in times of “business as unusual” – risks and processes must be considered together, so that the consequences of disruptions and failures can be quantitatively assessed. On the basis of these findings and a catalogue of possible threats, companies should have defined a strategy for crisis situations.

As you can see, my original predictions took on more importance than I could have anticipated, and more issues have arisen in the meantime. During “business as unusual,” process management becomes the bedrock of resilience.

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