Process automation for crisis survival!


Bram Meyerson | Regional Director | SolveXia | mail me |

The speed at which companies implement their digital strategies is often too slow and does not keep pace with the structural shifts that affect their industries. Successful disruptors move quickly from concept to scale. The global pandemic has forced many companies to rapidly accelerate their digital agenda to support the new ways of work for employees and the evolving demands of customers.

Traditionally investments in new and enhanced software applications are generally made to bolster the business outcomes of core processes. For example, billing systems are essential in telecommunications companies. Similarly claims and policy administration systems underpin the business of insurance companies. Placing customer needs foremost, these systems underpin the B2C relationship, particularly the ongoing interactions and associated transactions that link customers to products and services. Expenditure on new and improved digital channels is often given priority as these systems improve the customer experience and generate revenue. Investment in systems and portals for agents, intermediaries and suppliers are also often made if the business case yields a positive return.

‘Investment in software applications generally favours processes that directly generate revenue and improve the customer journey. The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the misalignment in systems spend which prejudices critical internal processes that remain dependent on key specialists.’  – Quantimetrics

Key person dependency risks

With these specialists working from home, a radical new way of work is required to maintain the flow of the critical information that they produce. Examples of such information are business performance packs that are consumed by board members and investors. They also generate payment schedules for partners in their supply chain such as the percentage of premiums that insurers pay to their reinsurers. In addition, they provide information to regulators.

Finance specialists who are responsible for production of reports, often under tight deadlines, and want to control the mechanism for delivery of these outputs, have resorted to their own or user developed applications out of necessity. These resources, who are often graduates in commerce or related disciplines, are well versed in Excel which has become the de facto standard for these ‘shadow IT systems’. Not only is there key resource dependency, but these home-grown solutions pose substantial risk, particularly when relied upon by company boards and finance departments. They are prone to error, their workings and results are difficult to check, they lack documentation, are not scalable and lack audit trails. Now there is the added security concern of working outside of the corporate network. As such, these processes are often flagged ‘red’ on corporate risk registers, with disastrous consequences if they yield incorrect results. Examples abound, such as duplicate payment of commissions or incorrect tax deductions on investment funds. Nevertheless, spreadsheet solutions persist from year to year as most IT departments don’t have the bandwidth or budget to replace them.

Automation liberates specialists so that they have time to think add value 

Fortunately, with the advent of intelligent hyper-automation technologies, experts who

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Read the full article by Bram Meyerson, Regional Director, SolveXiaas well as a host of other topical management articles written by professionals, consultants and academics in the June/July 2020 edition of BusinessBrief.

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