How to Adapt Critical Business Functions in a Crisis

Written by Lucas de Boer | 5 min read
Published on: April 24th 2020 - Last modified: October 14th, 2021
Répondre à la crise : comment adapter vos fonctions essentielles pour assurer la continuité des affaires

The COVID-19 health crisis means organizations of all sizes and shapes have kicked into survival mode. In this latest blog post in our continuing series on emergency responses, we will focus our attention on how to adapt critical business functions in a crisis, and how to preserve your business in these uncertain times.

Any crisis is a challenge at an individual business level; the worldwide impact of COVID-19 is a challenge for organizations in all sectors. In both scenarios, however, the key question is the same: how to adapt critical business functions in a crisis?

This overarching question can be broken down further, as well: How can I adapt my supply chain to the demands and dependencies that are attached to it? How can I effectively manage sales in an uncertain environment? How can I plan for possible outcomes depending on the evolution of the crisis, and what does that mean for my organization’s financial health?

The solution lies in the effective management of a company’s business processes (BPM) and the corresponding ability to adapt. Reacting quickly and intelligently to keep key functions up and running, and limit any damage, is the path to success. As Darwin pointed out:

"The species that survive are not the strongest, nor the smartest, but the ones that best adapt to change.”

Adapting your supply chain

The supply chain, a key element in an organization, includes all the business processes that drive operational efficiency, from procurement, through to purchasing and distribution. Despite its critical importance to any business, external impacts on supply chains can often be underestimated. In fact, a recent ‘risk barometer’ study conducted in France showed that health risk was the least important to supply chain managers (out of 18 risks identified), simply due to its exceptional nature.

Of course, there are myriad ways supply chains, and the everyday business processes that support them, can be impacted in a crisis situation:

  • External dependencies, like suppliers, routing of raw materials, or component manufacture, may break down or become suddenly unavailable.
  • Fewer/confined/teleworking staff can create difficulties in accessing resources.
  • Many roles are no longer performed or carried out in a reduced capacity.
  • Certain business activities may be stopped due to government decisions.
  • Businesses may not be able to access certain physical sites crucial to their supply chain.

Despite these many challenges, businesses can ensure continuity of operations even in an unprecedented context, and demonstrate agility and efficiency to maintain balance in their supply chains.

Implementing a scaled-down supply chain

To achieve this balance, when working out how to adapt critical business functions in a crisis situation, organizations need to embrace process management supported by an efficient software solution. This combination allows companies to:

  • Identify the different roles within each process that underpins the supply chain, document all associated activities to be 100% transparent, and adapt the transfer of responsibilities when necessary (in the event of absences or team changes);
  • Visualize internal and external dependencies, and guarantee inventory management;
  • Adapt business processes and trigger scaled-down processes when needed;
  • Simulate down-graded processes prior to implementation, to make rational decisions about resource allocation that do not weaken the company, and thus ensure the maintenance of the supply chain in a difficult context; and
  • Visualize supply chain processes from end-to-end, and thus easily identify the activities that may be impacted by the negative effects of a crisis, and implement appropriate solutions.

Post-crisis, businesses can rely on process mining technology to track supply chain performance from start to finish during the height of the crisis, to build on the lessons learned, optimize the supply chain, and ensure ongoing process excellence.

Secure sales and meet customer needs

In this time of crisis, it can be significantly more complicated for organizations to conduct their sales operations, depending on the industry in which they work. With many restrictions on the opening of physical points of sale, the time has come for omnichannel sales and the shift to digital channels to maintain a certain amount of cash in the company's coffers. To do this, your business processes must be robust yet agile enough to enable effective conversion of your prospects to customers via digital channels only.

Customer excellence is no longer an option, but has become an imperative in all organizations. In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, your customers are more important than ever. Every process involving your prospect/customer, from information request to application to after-sales service, must deliver a simple, seamless customer experience at each of your strategic touch points. To achieve this, your customer journey must be designed with precision and must take into account all the moments of truth that will move your prospect/customer in the right direction.

Strengthen your teams' skills with process mining

To maintain your place on the market, improve your sales techniques and even gain more market share, process mining is the ideal technology. By analysing the historical data stored in your IT systems, you will reveal the true story behind your processes and answer critical questions like:

  • How many days does it take to close a sale?
  • What are the bottlenecks in your processes?
  • Who is your most successful salesperson, and why?
  • Why are you losing sales?

Once you have this information in your hands and grouped into intuitive and dynamic dashboards, you can take the necessary steps, as a team, to optimize your processes and define together the process excellence that will lead you to a smoother, faster and more efficient customer conversion.

Anticipate different financial scenarios with simulation

The finance department is also in turmoil as a result of COVID-19. This department has the same imperative of how to adapt critical business functions in a crisis: keeping sufficient cash on hand, ensuring enough liquidity to face an uncertain future, pay its suppliers and fixed charges on time and ensure the solvency of its customers. A multitude of questions that include a broad set of parameters to consider!

Accurate and well-documented modeling of financial processes, shared with all stakeholders, ensures their efficiency and enhances their end-to-end transparency. This means finance staff can:

  • build a transparent overview of the various processes that make up the finance department;
  • ensure payment to suppliers (procure-to-pay) according to the requirements of regulations and best practices;
  • allow accurate tracking of customer invoicing and related payments; and
  • ensure the traceability of operations and potential customer reminders, including monitoring the solvency of customers and the potential risks they incur.

Moving beyond these key processes that are operated daily in the finance department, companies can use process simulation to model stress-tests in order to consider and understand possible future scenarios.

There are two types of stress tests. The classic version determines whether the company has the necessary equity capital to avoid defaulting on payments, and the reverse stress test defines the scenarios that could threaten an organization’s survival, and establishes a list of preventive measures.

In either case, examining possible future issues before they occur can help support a company’s existing rigorous financial framework and efficient business processes. Strengthening your organization’s current processes, while planning for the future? That captures the essence of how to adapt critical business functions in a crisis.

How to adapt critical business functions in a crisis, with Signavio

The SAP Signavio Process Transformation Suite and its powerful capabilities help you determine how to adapt critical business functions in a crisis, tailored to your particular business and circumstances. Signavio’s 90-day COVID-19 Rapid Response Package offers free and immediate assistance to companies of all types and sizes, including NGOs and healthcare organizations.

To find out more, read our previous articles related to the COVID-19 crisis:

In the meantime, you can follow the updates of COVID-19 on the World Health Organization website. On behalf of the entire Signavio team, take care of yourself, your teams and your loved ones.

Published on: April 24th 2020 - Last modified: October 14th, 2021