The voice of experience

Sherwin Towfighian is Team Lead Consulting MEE at Signavio. In his role, Sherwin has contact with decision-makers in businesses of all shapes and sizes, in a range of different industries—now, of course, via video conference and other remote work options. With this experience in mind, Sherwin sat down to talk about the ongoing impacts of the crisis, the importance of maintaining connections with customers, why you should prioritize transformation in a crisis, and how digital solutions like Signavio can help build an even stronger future for your organization.

What are the main challenges businesses have to face at the moment?

The main challenge right now for the business is to shift more of their work into the digital world. It would be very helpful to be more digital-focused, supported by digital solutions, and have the right understanding of your functions. Organizations that already ‘know the flow’, that is, how their processes function and the interfaces to other processes/systems will of course be better able to manage this great change. Organizations that don’t have this knowledge need to prioritize transformation in a crisis situation.

“Digital transformation, IoT, or just general IT implementation are more important than ever.”

There is a need to transform to adjust to the current situation. Not just for our whole society, but also of course for the way we work, the processes we run through, and the cases that we have. I think it’s very clear that a crisis reveals the importance of digital transformation. It’s a question of assessing the risks we’re all facing now and to think about how much effort and money we should, at least in the future, invest in digital and cloud-based measures and tools.

From a general perspective, what would be the three most important things to work on in the next couple of months?

If I had to pick three, I would say:

  1. Define and understand your challenges
  2. Communicate with customers
  3. Find automation opportunities

Not everyone is facing the same problems, even though we’re all facing the same crisis. So, every business needs to understand their challenges. Then, you can define your response in a business rule, write it down, and make clear what you want to do. This also means you can include any rules you receive from the government, from health groups, and from your organization, whatever your area is.

Then, you need to have the right communication. It could be a big change for a lot of people, especially customers. Define what you want to do and need to do, and then communicate it quickly in a way that everyone can understand. Internally, process flows should be easy to read. If you’re able to send this info to all the target groups which need to receive it, customers and staff, you will go a long way to making sure people support you in the changes you need to make.

If you can find tasks that are feasible to automate like notifications, or process steps that need to be escalated to the next candidate, now is definitely the time to do it. As an example, we work with a hospital in Berlin. We know it’s challenging for them to have everything prepared, and to have the capacity and have the right checklist to do triage, for example, and save lives.

The healthcare industry, hospitals… they all need to react very quickly. Time is a very important factor in this situation. They need to understand rapidly how things work, even the triage, how to assess the needs of different patients and balance that against the resources they have. With Signavio, they can automate the minor tasks, and doctors and professionals can focus their attention on medical matters.

How can business process management help companies respond to the crisis? What’s the best way to drive efficiency on the most critical processes?

Business process management or, in general, even process management is a very good start. From our experience, it’s always good to understand what you’re doing and to visualize it with an easy and understandable notation/tool. There are several aspects in BPM where you can start:

  1. Design and define the process
  2. Simulate the process and maybe automate it
  3. Analyze to find where the bottlenecks are or where the efficiency can be improved
  4. Measure and monitor changes, then continue to optimize and review

BPM helps a lot in regular operations, and in a crisis even more. To drive efficiency, you’ll be able to identify bottlenecks and see where things are not going smoothly, or things are wrong. If you lose time or money you can identify it. In the COVID-19 crisis, we’re losing lives. There is no better reason to think about what you’re doing, start to analyze how you can do it better, and prioritize transformation in a crisis.

“Business process management can help you to scale up again, in case you scaled down in response to a crisis; your supply chain, for example.”

How can BPM help organizations to prioritize transformation in a crisis, and scale up/down in an uncertain time?

If you want to react to the things you have to change in the coming weeks, BPM can help you scale up again in case the crisis forced you to scale down—supply chain management is a good example. You need to produce more, to have capacity somewhere pre-defined, as well as pre-rolled some capacities to be able to produce it. Underneath this, you need to have a reliable data basis from which you can derive your decisions to make smarter decisions once your company can grow again.

This means you need to define the right processes and the right KPIs, measure them, monitor them, and act in a coordinated way to scale up quickly. Basically, companies need to be fast again to deal with their competitors. If you have good data quality, and you can start continuous improvement quickly with the right KPIs, you will have the information you need to act quickly, scale up and down as needed, and get back to work better than your competitors.

Right now, it’s more important than ever to avoid churn and to keep selling. How can companies still delight their customers and target customer excellence in this complicated time?

If you want to avoid churn, if you’re going to make customers happy, you need to understand what the client wants and what their needs are. If you know that, listen to that, and react to that, then you will keep their attention and keep their business. Remember, your customers’ needs may be totally different to what they were a few weeks ago. Your business needs to accurately listen to customers, understand their needs, and then quickly adapt what you offer them. Plus, you have to deliver all that across many more locations and time zones than usual.

The secret to managing this new workload is customer journey mapping. CJM helps to understand your touchpoints with your clients, employees, or users, with the ones you want to provide service for. In the end, it’s what to do to sell and have a successful company: understand what changed in this crisis regarding customer needs, know, listen, and react.

What can companies learn from this crisis?

A LOT. For example, remote work is here to stay. Is it necessary to meet and talk and stand in front of a whiteboard? Is it possible to reduce traveling? I think we will not travel that much and meet each other… but we can do it remotely. It’s possible, and I can tell you from experience that it is working well.

All crises force you to go through changes. As we all know, change management in a company is important, but only relatively few companies have the role such as change manager who would have to take care of it and communicate around it. If you truly want to prioritize transformation in a crisis, a role like this can be very valuable.

Crisis forces you to change, and this change needs to be managed. To manage the change, you need to know and understand how it works right now, look at the right angles, and make sure you’re changing the right areas. Signavio can help!

If you want to analyze, measure, and understand how your processes really work, and what your data says about the real flow of your organization, you need to be wearing “business glasses”. Process management can help you get the right view, and Signavio can help you prioritize transformation in a crisis, so you can make the right decisions, better and faster.

Get started with our COVID-19 Rapid Response Package

As ever, Signavio’s 90-day COVID-19 Rapid Response Package offers immediate help to companies of all types and sizes, including NGOs and healthcare organizations, to ensure business continuity. You can also find details of all our additional resources related to COVID-19, to help you prioritize transformation in a crisis. In the meantime, you can follow updates on COVID-19 on the World Health Organization website. On behalf of the entire Signavio team, take care of yourself, your colleagues, and your loved ones.