Think Like Big Tech With a Process Platform Approach to IT

The pandemic forced nearly every organization to rethink its digital strategy and push digital transformation projects forward in weeks, rather than the months or years these initiatives would have taken pre-COVID-19. But while transformation is ultimately beneficial for both employers and employees, organizations are more likely to achieve success by taking a measured approach to implementations.

Additionally, many of the pain points enterprises were up against before the pandemic — like IT sprawl, C-suite/IT misalignment and outdated IT methods — have only intensified in today’s environment of remote work and economic strain.

Process platform thinking — an IT approach that relies on the deployment of multiple IT platforms and teams for maximum flexibility and modularity — is critical to sustaining digital transformation projects for long-term success and enterprise resiliency.

Building digital resilience with a process platform model

In many ways, businesses started preparing for the “new normal” long before COVID-19. Leading enterprises had already ramped up their remote work capabilities, embraced more agile IT governance strategies and leveraged new technologies like digital process automation.

But while Big Tech has led the charge on fully remote operations, many other enterprises have yet to achieve digital resilience. That’s because significant IT and operational challenges continue to hinder digital transformation efforts:

  • IT sprawl: The increase in available SaaS solutions has resulted in a miscellany of fragmented systems that often lack interoperability and proper governance. In fact, a third of mid-market companies have no IT governance strategy at all.
  • C-suite/IT misalignment: IT sprawl is made worse by a lack of communication between IT departments and C-level leadership. Without this partnership, enterprises struggle to formulate prioritization roadmaps that could quickly streamline cumbersome and outdated processes.
  • Outdated IT methods: Many organizations have one foot out the door when it comes to digital strategy. They’ve invested in modern IT solutions while holding on to old ones, resulting in a mismatch of systems unable to exchange and act on information.

While imperative, these issues weren’t necessarily top priorities for business leaders before the pandemic. But a decentralized workforce coupled with an unstable economy heightened the need for enterprises to do more with less. Disconnected IT systems simply won’t cut it for organizations struggling to push forward major digital transformation projects with limited resources.

A process platform approach can provide a much-needed framework for aligning IT strategy with the overall goals of your business.

In this model, modular IT platforms organized around specific business goals and run by distinct teams form the foundation of an enterprise’s technological capability. Together, the platforms can be assembled and reassembled to seamlessly automate entire processes, swiftly adapt to changing needs and get products to market 100 times faster. A process Center of Excellence (CoE) typically serves as the central governing group to ensure alignment among platforms.

Tech giants like Apple, Amazon and Microsoft that have fared the pandemic better than most rely on a process platform approach to remain nimble and ahead of the curve. But you don’t have to be a tech giant to implement this model. Advances in technology, like low-code solutions and intuitive drag-and-drop tools, have made process automation platforms accessible to businesses of all sizes and industries.

Adopting a process platform approach

In practice, a process platform approach requires your organization to reimagine its entire digital culture and align on key automation goals. To get started, follow these four steps:

  1. Centralize process governance: A lack of consolidated process automation oversight often results in digital transformation failure. Establish a deeper partnership between your IT and leadership teams to ensure your organization has the best digital process and tools in place to meet your goals. Additionally, institute a CoE to keep these goals on track through a central authority.
  2. Map your processes: Visually map out the processes with the most impact on your business using collaborative process design tools. Look for intuitive, accessible tools that make it easy for anyone in your organization to collaborate on process maps and share feedback. Be sure to include frontline workers in the mapping process to identify significant pain points.
  3. Determine which processes to automate: Once you’ve mapped your business processes, identify those best-suited for automation to streamline workflows and eliminate pain points. Then, select the appropriate technology — like digital forms, digital approvals, robotic process automation and digital document generation — to automate corresponding processes.
  4. Analyze performance and update strategy: Ensure the automation platforms you select provide visibility into each process, so you can track and report performance over time. Use these analytics to continuously fine-tune processes and ensure they’re optimized to meet your strategic business goals.

While the pressure to transform digital processes existed before COVID-19, the pandemic has exacerbated IT pain points that prevent enterprises from remaining agile in today’s uncertain environment.

To succeed like Big Tech, you’ll need to adopt IT governance strategies that build digital resilience and empower your organization to continuously adapt and innovate. A process platform approach won’t just streamline your business’s digital capabilities — it will determine if you merely survive or ultimately thrive in the “new normal.”

Dustin Grosse is Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer at Nintex.