According to Gallup research conducted in March 2020, only 39 percent of employees in the US “strongly agree that their employer has communicated a clear plan of action in response to COVID-19.” When facing a crisis, it can be hard to know how best to move forward. But now that businesses are becoming more comfortable meeting these unique challenges, it’s a good time to take stock of how COVID-19 has affected business workflows and how they can be improved.
When evaluating any workflow, the goal is to increase efficiency, reduce errors, and improve outcomes. In the midst of the current epidemic, these goals may have fallen by the wayside. Here’s how to evaluate your employee, customer, and systems workflows and how to leverage your existing resources to optimize them.
Identify the Impact on Your Employees
Approximately 80 percent of workers have said “they are confident they will continue to successfully meet the requirements of their job should the outbreak continue,” according to Gallup. That’s good news for businesses. But because things may have changed, it’s important to continue to evaluate employee workflows. Are employee processes as efficient, effective, and easy as they could to be?
Here are some questions to ask as you evaluate current employee workflows:
Are the same people responsible for the same tasks as before? If not, has everyone received adequate training and tools?
If we are using different technology or resources than we were before, how is it going?
Did employees have easy access to information on how to change their workflows if necessary?
Evaluating your workflows is not just about making sure the company is functioning as best as it can. It’s also about employee retention.
“You need to understand [your employees’] goals, tools, Internet services, security, devices, and how workflows can improve,” says John Ryan, Crossfuze CMO. “Life moves fast, and your workflows will need to cycle through faster to attract the best talent. Employees focused on performances that define their careers will choose employers that design great work-from-anywhere experiences from the employee’s point of view.”
Identify the Impact on Your Customers
“As the virus spreads around the world, many support teams are experiencing significant shifts in customer requests,” reports Intercom. “In our survey, nearly half (47%) of support teams report that inbound volume has increased since the outbreak and by an average of 51% above their normal volume.”
As customer needs have changed and increased over the course of the outbreak, how has the customer experience changed? Here are some questions to help you evaluate customer workflows:
Have customers been engaging in certain steps in the workflow more or less?
What bottlenecks (if any) have they been experiencing?
Have our processes been able to scale to keep up with increasing customer demand?
Effortless customer workflows are key for customer loyalty. Companies should strive to reduce transfers, lack of personalization, and repeating information. It should be a priority to make sure customers can get the answers they’re looking for quickly. Look at your workflows from the customer’s point of view to make sure they are functioning optimally, even in less-than-ideal circumstances.
Identify the Impact on Your Systems
Have your systems proven themselves to be resilient? When you examine your applications, infrastructure, networks, and data, how has everything held up?
Did your intake process and platform capture areas that needed increasing attention?
Were certain parts of the system used more or less than before?
Was there service continuity? Did cybersecurity stay strong?
If your answers aren’t what you want them to be, take comfort in the fact that only the top 10 percent of surveyed companies “have cracked the code on systems resilience.” To join that 10 percent, define long-term goals to create a more resilient IT landscape. Start small and optimize your partnerships in the ecosystem so your company can mitigate vulnerabilities.
Find Ways to Leverage the Tools and Processes You Already Have
It’s not always possible to implement our ideal solutions on the ideal timeline. So how can companies leverage the resources they have now to make the biggest difference?
To begin, take advantage of these five underused ServiceNow features if you’re a ServiceNow customer:
Hardware asset management
Visual task board
Use these features to streamline your workflows. And be sure to take advantage of Workflow.
Next, cut down on unnecessary processes. A Pegasystems study found that, on average, employees toggle between 35 job-critical applications more than 1,100 times each day. If that sounds like your company, it might be time to pare down and consolidate your tools and processes to make life easier for your employees.
Finally, ensure that the company is on track for a continuing digital transformation—specifically, through automation. Automation can help open up bottlenecks and keep human talent where it is most needed. With a digital transformation underway, companies can ensure their workflows are helping them stay competitive.
There’s no time like the present to take stock of how COVID-19 has affected your business workflows and use what you find to improve your business. As you evaluate employee, customer, and systems workflows, be sure to leverage your existing resources so you can take manageable steps forward.