Harmon on BPM: Thinking about Post-Pandemic Processes

Checking the poll we took on the May website, I note that 17% of our readers are still working at their normal place of employment. At the same time about 60% of our readers are still working, but working at home. Others have been laid off. Any way you consider it, this is a time of business disruption and things are probably not going to return to normal for a long time.

Consider one article I read in Science, the professional journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. A Canadian conference that normally hosted a couple of hundred researchers was canceled this year. In its place an online conference was held. Instead of a couple of hundred people, several thousand people attended, many from well outside Canada. One researcher reported contacts from throughout the world and exciting new collaboration opportunities. Now some of that no doubt resulted from the fact that the researchers were home and bored, but some of it simply illustrates the advantages on open, online conferences rather than gathering a few people in one location. Some will see the advantage of combining online and onsite meetings in the future to increase participation. Many of us have acquired new online networking stills during the pandemic and are more willing to try online events than we were in the past. I say all this to suggest one way in which things might change.

Or consider take-out food. I wouldn't have in the past, but local restaurants have gotten so good at facilitating pickups and such that I can now see doing it more often in the future. Customers are going to change their expectations in some cases.

If the pandemic were over tomorrow, this might not be the case – but its likely that we will be living in an off-and-on again crisis for many more months, if not a year or two. Even as countries seek to “reopen” there will be new legal and social requirements placed on businesses. Business processes will need to change as we adopt more considered lifestyles.

How many of you who have gotten used to working at home are eager to go back to work in an office? How many imagine combining elements of home and office work in the future?

As Roger Tregear suggest in his thoughtful column in May, a crisis always presents some opportunities. For some organizations, “reopening” will present an opportunity to redesign older processes and replace them with newer approaches. In some cases, competitors or business partners will be bankrupt and companies will need to struggle to reinvent supply chains.

Shortages in stores during the crisis have forced customers to try new products and early surveys have suggested that some product changes are likely to stick. Thus, some companies will have to deal with more new customers and others will have to struggle to reacquire lost customers.

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Paul Harmon

Paul Harmon

Executive Editor and Founder, Business Process Trends In addition to his role as Executive Editor and Founder of Business Process Trends, Paul Harmon is Chief Consultant and Founder of BPTrends Associates, a professional services company providing educational and consulting services to managers interested in understanding and implementing business process change. Paul is a noted consultant, author and analyst concerned with applying new technologies to real-world business problems. He is the author of Business Process Change: A Manager's Guide to Improving, Redesigning, and Automating Processes (2003). He has previously co-authored Developing E-business Systems and Architectures (2001), Understanding UML (1998), and Intelligent Software Systems Development (1993). Mr. Harmon has served as a senior consultant and head of Cutter Consortium's Distributed Architecture practice. Between 1985 and 2000 Mr. Harmon wrote Cutter newsletters, including Expert Systems Strategies, CASE Strategies, and Component Development Strategies. Paul has worked on major process redesign projects with Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Security Pacific, Prudential, and Citibank, among others. He is a member of ISPI and a Certified Performance Technologist. Paul is a widely respected keynote speaker and has developed and delivered workshops and seminars on a wide variety of topics to conferences and major corporations through out the world. Paul lives in Las Vegas. Paul can be reached at pharmon@bptrends.com
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