In the software world, there is always talk about disruption to business processes and the opportunity that gives for rethinking how we work. When we develop software, our goal is not to reproduce an existing business process but to take the opportunity for change and improve that process with the software supporting the new process.
When the Governor issued the ‘Stay At Home’ order, how many of us found that our normal business processes were disrupted? How long have you heard someone in your organization say we are ‘going paperless’, but when you didn’t go back to your desk the next day, you found that your paper is key to your job? How many of us had access to tools like Microsoft Teams before the pandemic but really didn’t take advantage of them? How many tasks in your daily job have you found that really don’t work well in your new remote work environment?
COVID-19 isn’t going to disappear just like the annual influenza that we experience. We will learn more about it and adapt our lives and our work. However, are we taking the opportunity to really think about how we work and what we do? We should all be thinking about how our jobs work and what our processes are.
From the software perspective, we need to get started on a lot of those initiatives to improve. How can the software systems that we use every day be improved to support our current needs and a possible future where this could happen again? How can our software support our daily work and our business whether it is a pandemic, a blizzard, or a disaster that causes our company to implement our business continuity plan? Software should support our staff so they can do their jobs and remain productive. It should also support our customers so that they can get the information they need from us even when we are quickly adapting to a new work environment.
So, how do we do that? First, we take advantage of this disruption to evaluate what is working well and what is either hard or just not possible. Talk with your staff about how they are doing their work now as compared to what they did a month ago. Take those ideas and talk with your software vendors. Those ideas may be something your software is already capable of doing or it may be the next great idea that makes your staff productivity increase. We must all work to get our software systems working in this new environment so that the impact of these events can be minimized.
Second, consider some questions about what this new work experience means for your staff and customers.
- How can our staff work remotely with current software and their own hardware?
- How can we ensure that we are less dependent on being in a physical location?
- What manual and paper processes can be moved to automated and electronic processes?
- How can we improve our software so we can support remote work?
- How can we maintain our customer service through self-service portals or better communications?
- How do we ensure that we don’t compromise the security of the data that our company holds?
It has been a significant challenge for a lot of organizations, but we need to learn from it while we can and be sure to push forward with change as we get back to normal.
BRAD FORGEY, MCPD, MBSCP
Director of Software Services