sculpture of the thinker
PHOTO: Avery Evans

Organizations compressed years of digital transformation into just a few weeks earlier this spring. And while it may be tempting to now slow down the pace of change, that would be inadvisable.

Most companies have more work to do if they want to build resilience for the future. The pandemic caused changes which made many of the concerns driving digital transformation even more pressing. For example, the economic recession makes it even more vital for companies to innovate to gain a competitive edge.

For companies looking to build on the momentum of the last few months, adopting a process platform approach to IT is an ideal next step. Pioneered by companies like Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook, this way of thinking reenvisions IT as a set of modular, interoperable platforms that align with various business goals. Applied in conjunction with low- or no-code software development solutions and other key tools, a process platform approach can root digital transformation more deeply across all departments and significantly accelerate innovation.

New Crisis, Old Problems

While the pandemic introduced new challenges, many of the IT issues companies are facing remain the same. However, the instability of the current economy — coupled with a widespread need to support remote work — have amplified these issues for leadership.

  • Lack of IT governance: One-third of mid-market companies lack any IT governance strategy. When governance proceeds on an ad hoc basis, the proliferation of SaaS solutions leads to IT sprawl, a patchwork of disjointed, often incompatible platforms and tools.
  • Lack of process automation oversight: A lack of alignment between IT and the C-suite on strategic priorities for automation keeps companies from leveraging technology to streamline and improve operations.
  • Outdated IT approaches: While many companies have invested in new IT solutions, they remain attached to old methods that hold back change and stifle innovation. This is a key reason why only 16% of digital transformation initiatives succeed.

A process platform approach addresses all of these issues. When IT administers platforms organized around specific business goals, it’s much easier to bring C-level strategy and IT practice into alignment. Governance is centralized in a process Center of Excellence (CoE), which helps select and administer platforms, and ensure access across the company. Under the CoE’s supervision, interoperable IT platforms can be assembled to automate processes end-to-end swiftly and efficiently, accelerating time-to-market for new products by as much as 100 times.

Related Article: The Sudden Move to Remote Work Unearthed Years of Bad Tech Decisions

Getting Started With a Process Platform Approach

Adopting a process platform approach is a major mindset shift for most organizations, so it won’t happen overnight. Planning the transition and tying it to measurable outcomes increases the likelihood of success. Here are five steps to get started.

  1. Systematize IT governance. Reorganize IT as a set of interoperable platforms, following a CoE model to ensure alignment between the business side and IT.
  2. Document your processes. Use collaborative process design tools, making sure to involve frontline employees who have firsthand knowledge of process pain points.
  3. Build an automation road map. IT, operations and business staff should work together to prioritize processes for automation to meet shared business goals.
  4. Choose the right automation platform. Look for a platform with a full range of automation capabilities so you can choose the right automation method for each process.
  5. Continuously improve. Your automation platform should also track performance for all automated processes, giving you visibility into their operations so you can continuously optimize them over time.

Related Article: Designing a Digital Workplace for the Long Haul

The Race Towards Resilience

The pandemic has taught us to prepare for the unexpected. In the future, resiliency in times of crisis will be a key competitive differentiator. Organizations that can respond quickly to change will thrive, while those that lack agility and flexibility will struggle. Adopting a process platform approach puts your organization on the path to the first outcome — and sets you up for lasting success, whatever the future holds.