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Ram Subramanian
Global Head, HCM Practice
16 October 2020

To say that the COVID-19 crisis has complicated business processes would be an understatement. Enterprises across the globe were forced to temporarily close, bringing all development, production, and sales to a grinding halt. Now the dust is settling, and governments are relaxing stay at home regulations. However, businesses have come to find that the process of bringing employees back to work is a lot more challenging than they had thought.

A leading global computer parts manufacturer found itself in the same position as other manufacturing companies. The nature of their business meant that a work from home model was not viable, and that their essential work could not be done remotely. They recognized the importance of reducing risk and exposure to ensure the safety of their employees and set out to find a solution internally that would solve these issues.

The task turned out to be far more complex than they had expected. The complications of creating business workflows across multiple departments required a significant amount of time, effort, and coordination. The existing tools that they had were fragmented and disconnected. They needed an end-to-end strategy that would provide them with insights to take the next steps forward with confidence. What they needed was a holistic, integrated approach that would let them have a digitized process to ensure business continuity and employee confidence and satisfaction.

Reopening large enterprises with several business lines, jurisdictions, and languages is never easy, and the COVID-19 regulations are an added obstacle. Businesses everywhere are currently facing problems that have never been anticipated before.

The manufacturing company realized that they needed an experienced digital transformation partner to build a safe and secure landscape that would effectively and efficiently meet their unique needs. Here are the key lessons learned during the manufacturer’s initial launch of a digital platform to monitor and apply the collective data for insights on business resilience:

Focus on people, not process: What’s important is an automated human centered design: one that focuses on the health and safety of the employee. Process driven solutions that are simply plugged into a system are often not effective. To create a viable business environment – and to ensure the sustainability of that or the business resilience – employee experience must be prioritized. After all, people function better when they are confident in the safety and security of their surroundings.

Bridge departments: Any project management of this scale must also take into consideration diverse departments that will come into play. The goal is to create a seamless flow/integration of business information and departments like IT, security, privacy, facility management, HR, procurement, administration and more to drive business continuity.

The manufacturing company realized this in their attempts to create a return to work solution. Without a holistic view of all the areas, and a careful study of the existing interdepartmental relationships, the process will be fragmented and disjointed.

Plan for change: No matter how carefully tailored a new automated system might be, some sort of friction is expected to arise. As an enterprise, oversight during initiatives like this is critical. Change management is essential to ensure that employees can easily accustom themselves to new solutions. With a carefully developed, structured approach to the change, you can accelerate the success of the transition.

Choose Speed: While the American manufacturing company had all kinds of software, they realized that they needed an integrated end-to-end solution to increase adoption, gain efficiency, and provide key business insights at all levels. Operating without a solution of this kind was costing them a lot of time. In these situations, an already existing readiness plan can help in the long run.

Maximize RoI: It is also important to understand how enterprises have invested in the recent past and consider this capital expenditure while arriving at the solution. The inter-departmental workflow integration solution must leverage existing platforms and technologies as against being a novel greenfield implementation to achieve faster and maximized return on investment. Brownfield return to work solutions can also be delivered more quickly and maximize return on investment.

The world is collectively recovering from an unexpected and unprecedented global crisis, but the outcome does not have to be catastrophic for enterprises. Utilizing the emerging power of a built-for-purpose digital solution that can be customized to elevate employee experiences has long been what the future holds for business processes. There are many solutions that help organizations do this. By beginning the shift towards making your business safe, secure, and smart, that future might be closer than you think.

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About the author(s)
Ram Subramanian
Global Head, HCM Practice

Ram has with over 25 years of experience, including general management of mid to large size organizations, corporate development, product development, business operations, and Strategy. An energetic and passionate leader, he has been helping global corporations in all aspects of corporate HR, Finance, training, talent management, recruiting, leadership, and digital workplace technology.

He serves as a personal coach to HR and business leaders across the world to help them setup and extract the best out of their corporate talent, maximizing their potential, and developing cognitive solutions to improve their ‘belongingness’ to the company. His professional goal is to help make work life better: better for individuals, better for organizations, and better for communities and stakeholders.