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Predict the Unpredicted

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What you’ll read below is some real-world feedback from enterprises on their level of Business Resilience and what they are doing to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

As I’ve mentioned before, my position at iGrafx affords me unique access to the business process control rooms of many of the largest, most complex enterprises around the world.  It is one of the best parts of my job, and it’s crucial for achieving the “outside-in” perspective I need to build products that solve urgent, pervasive problems that our customers face every day.

So in these uncharted waters of COVID-19, I’ve reached out to many iGrafx customers to see how they’re progressing.  The results are mixed, but unanimously encouraging.

Some customers report being extremely well prepared.  In every case, these are the ones who were already carefully managing their processes and had already identified their predicted and unpredicted risks – along with the applicable control processes.  Customers in heavily regulated industries such as banking, where the federal government mandates resiliency management, report being in even better shape.  Many had various pandemic scenarios already documented in iGrafx and were able to act immediately and with great specificity.  Overall, the enterprises that manage processes – and variants of processes based on scenarios – were prepared to deal with a wide range of changes at the same time.  As a result, their collective stress levels are reduced, and their customers are experiencing minimal disruption.

Other customers entered into this era of COVID-19 without tailored pandemic plans in place, but with either general emergency response plans, or at least a stack ranking of critical processes.  This, they say, allowed them to quickly assess what was business critical and then make the important decisions; better informed and faster.  Bottom line, even if the “actual” risk scenario ends up being slightly different than the predictions made, businesses can be aware of the critical components of their processes and know how to execute if a worst-case scenario hits.

Finally, I’ve spoken to customers who, despite using iGrafx for day-to-day business process management, such as service relocation, greenfield brownfield planning, risk management, etc., were not using the platform for resiliency management. I’m proud to see that all of the BPM teams I’ve spoken to in these organizations have immediately pivoted and begun to use the platform to analyze and add the information required to assess the situation and provide guidance on how to deal with the circumstances. What is the impact of working from home?  What if people get sick?  What happens if large portions of the work force are incapacitated and their tribal/process knowledge is lost?

These companies learned that simply having a documented PTO or sick leave policy – even one with provisions for delegating responsibilities during absence – don’t work when there is no manual transition period.  Or when a huge percentage of the company is displaced and/or unavailable to answer questions.  They’ve had a very loud wake up call.

When the life and death urgency of the current situation tapers, it is very likely that regulatory bodies all over the world – not just from the U.S. Federal Government, the FCA in the UK or BAFIN in Germany – will mandate resiliency planning and critical process management.  And the oversight will be applied to smaller companies and to industries beyond just banking.  Thankfully in light of current events, most companies I’ve talked to are looking to step up their game without new mandates, simply to ensure their own prosperity in a post-emergency world.

I’ve also seen quite a bit of news suggesting that companies turn to technology to solve some of the current challenges.  There’s an understandable urge to throw dollars at traditional workflow automation or robotic process automation (RPA), because digital workers (bots) can’t get sick!  At least not with the Coronavirus…  And while automation is a great way to deal with resiliency (and iGrafx is a great platform to manage all sorts of RPA and traditional process automation), it’s crucial to remember that processes have changed due to the changed circumstances. Even for previously implemented automation, this means businesses must know exactly where every instance of automation occurs and exactly what the bots are doing in order to make changes.  Then, even with a precise inventory of bots, how do they know the right changes to make, or the potential risks and any other unforeseen side-effects if they don’t have processes modeled, prioritized and governed?

Of course, Process Mining is an attractive option to jump-start a process-centric business modeling practice.  In fact, we incorporate mined data into iGrafx and it is fabulous at helping to our customers establish a baseline of “what’s really happening” and then optimizing processes further.  The challenge, however, is that process mining can only identify things that have previously occurred (or are occurring) and can therefore be extracted from log files and other data systems.  Process mining cannot mine and report on business scenarios that have never happened before – like a COVID-19 pandemic.

Unchartered waters for sure, but some predictions can always be made always.  9/11 told us nothing is off limits and Covid19 does the same.  Predict the unpredicted.

Please download our webinar where our CTO and Founder, Ed Maddock, went into more detail on resiliency and business continuity, sharing additional insights, best practices and examples.

Download Now

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