As I speak with clients, I find that many are focused on preserving cash in the current COVID business climate and are less concerned about capital expenses.I believe this is a good sign for the longer term as it shows optimism that, while business has fundamentally changed, the expectation is that the impact will be short-lived versus a prolonged recession. The challenge for these executives is; how do we conserve cash now, while making strategic bets that will put our organization in a stronger position for the next cycle of business?
One area that can be beneficial to explore is business process transformation (BPT). This can enable your firm to increase the efficiency and speed of business processes, thereby driving a higher value per dollar spent. When embarking on a BPT with the goal of preserving cash, here are a few things I recommend:
Look to Your Internal Business Processes
When exploring BPT initiatives, I generally put them in two categories
- External - customer facing processes and systems that provide opportunities to drive and create new revenue streams
- Internal - tackling internal and support processes that are inefficient, manual, and that employees would list as pain points
Since external BPT initiates generally have a less certain outcome, we recommend starting with an internal project if your focus is on conserving cash.
Start Small and Justify Value
We recommend focusing on short (6 to 12 week), value justified, cashflow positive, single business function projects that actively engages your user community.Be sure to also allocate time and resources after the project is complete to measure results and ensure you are achieving the desired metrics regarding increased efficiency and reduced costs.These quick project wins will enable your organization to rapidly see value from BPT versus a monolithic, all absorbing, lifetime duration program.
Optimize AND Automate
While diving straight to automation might seem like a quick win, if you only automate your process, you are only enabling bad or redundant processes to run faster.We always recommend simultaneously optimizing and automating your business processes; it is the combination of these two that drive out manual effort and inefficiencies at the same time.
- Optimize: Often employs six sigma style techniques and focuses on improving the efficiency of the process, removing redundancy, and optimizing the use of the enabling technologies
- Automate: This is where we use advanced technologies such as RPA, AI, and chatbots to reduce manual effort, improve accuracy, and improve user experience
Explore Outcome-Based Partnerships
Finding an experienced partner to help with your BPT journey can be a huge accelerator.While executives are hesitant to invest in new initiatives right now, partnering with firms such as Intellinet/FPT in an outcome-based BPT model can help to strengthen the position of your organization through increased efficiency and reduction in errors while additionally conserving cash by paying for the effort out of a portion of the savings.
While there is a lot of uncertainty in the world and the economy right now, there is no better time to think differently and explore ways to improve your business. As Rahm Emanuel famously said, "Never let a serious crisis go to waste … it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."