Steve Barnes is "The Process Expert"

COVID-19 IS HERE. It's Time For Business To Beat The Virus With Smart Technologies!

Dear reader, if your businesses is struggling, there is hope: if you can leverage emerging smart technologies promptly, you may be able to help sustain your business despite ‘social distancing’.

About Steve Barnes

Steve Barnes - Business Process Improvement Expert
Steve Barnes has nearly forty years of business and IT consulting experience, has travelled internationally, guest lectured on Enterprise Web Development; sat on an Expert Panel at Queensland University of Technology for Business Process Improvement and has taught Business Analysis and Business Process Improvement courses all round Australia and New Zealand. Steve also consulted in Enterprise Business Architecture for Promendo (Brisbane) and over the past fifteen years has used several cloud based Business Process Engines.

CONTENTS

  • Think: Where Does It Hurt?
    • Common scenario – retail face to face disrupted
    • Common scenario – office environments minimised or forced to homes
    • Your scenario
  • Empower your business with smart technologies
    • Document Workflow
    • Business Process Engine
    • What’s BPMN?
    • Cloud Connected Business Process Engines (Business Process Integration)
  • The Future Is Coming, And The Future Can Be Bright!
    • BPM Technology Disclosure
    • What Should You Do Now?
    • Get Your Flokzu BPM Trial

First the bad news; in case you didn’t know!

The impact of COVID-19 can’t be underestimated. I’ve heard of so many people being affected in the past few weeks:

Restaurants have closed unless they can limit activity to take-away
Many retailers have had to close their doors and are limited to selling online
Hotels and motels are closing their doors
Accountants can’t meet with clients and are (trying) to do everything via the Internet
Chiropractors and Masseurs who have been forced to shut down
Art galleries and movie theatres have closed
Staffing for banking and wealth management has been severely curtailed
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McKinsey & Company, a New York based management consultancy, had this to say...

“The coronavirus outbreak is first and foremost a human tragedy, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. It is also having a growing impact on the global economy. This article is intended to provide business leaders with a perspective on the evolving situation and implications for their companies. 

“Economic impact. Large-scale quarantines, travel restrictions, and social-distancing measures drive a sharp fall in consumer and business spending until the end of Q2, producing a recession. Although the outbreak comes under control in most parts of the world by late in Q2, the self-reinforcing dynamics of a recession kick in and prolong the slump until the end of Q3. Consumers stay home, businesses lose revenue and lay off workers, and unemployment levels rise sharply.”

Think: Where Does It Hurt?

“Where does it hurt?” is an easy question: it hurts where people talk to one another and serve one another. That’s why personal contact businesses are hardest hit.

Scenario A: Retail

retail

Let’s consider what retailers go through in their value chain before serving the customer. 

  • Some have to form a strategy for the season; others have to look to the latest in technology to stock it
  • All businesses need to order supplies to maintain operations; but retailers have to order stock and service providers may need parts and supplies, so that’s another activity
  • Some retailers run on a Just In Time model, so there’s no warehousing, but their operations demand discipline and a ready workforce to stock shelves. Others rely on warehousing (particularly if the import) and need warehouse managers and workers
  • Now we’re where the customer actually buys something! Traditionally, this has happened in store or occasionally via catalogue. Innovative businesses have established a web presence with an online store to help shoppers buy remotely. 

My point is that it doesn’t hurt everywhere; it just hurts where you interface with the customer – or other staff!

Scenario B: Office Based Business​

office staff

There is of course a parallel for more office based businesses and services in that staff can no longer mix in tightly as before. Offices, if open at all, are running on skeleton staff that practice ‘social distancing’. For example: lawyers, where receptionists are involved, paper or folders are passed around to staff and customers may come and go are affected badly because they just can’t function with the required staff for their services; let alone interacting with their customers!

Your Scenario

Whatever your scenario, I’m sure I can help. I’ve worked with hundreds of businesses over nearly forty years, and I’m blessed to have a deep and wide understanding of the kind of challenges you face. I’ve worked at all levels of government; for startups; for retailer, banking and e-commerce ventures. I’ve done work for religious institutions like the Lutheran Church of Queensland and a bible college, and for charities and even an adoption agency. In short, there’s not much I haven’t seen!

Empower Your Business With Smart Technologies

We’ve established that the biggest pain points lay in where customers interact with staff and staff interact with each other, with partners and suppliers. Many of these interactions are information based rather than carrying a physical product.

Smart Technology: Document Workflow

The first smart technology I’d like to introduce is Document Workflow. This technology takes what you have on paper forms and documents and carries it in digital format, passing information from role to role according to a predetermined workflow. Many early uses of workflow technology were used to track where documents were at. Why not use a spreadsheet for that? To some extent that’s a valid question, but workflow engines give a predetermined path, track assignment to users and also give insight to how long various activities are taking. 

  • Modern implementations of workflow technology first found their way into major product suites like ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and CRM packages; but they’ve also found their way to other, perhaps less expected areas. 
  • Workflow modules are available as add-ons to a number of different software languages, like PHP and Ruby on Rails
  • And surprisingly, workflow design is also available as an add-on for some email platforms, for example Google’s Gmail.

Workflow is about tracking the flow of work; knowing what’s where and why.

Smart Technology: Business Process Engine

Flokzu business process

Workflow On Steroids!

Radio Station Music Acquisition Process

What would happen if we could put control logic into what we’ve come to know as ‘workflow’? That would mean we could control the route documents and information takes inside our organisation. It would also mean we’d have more insight as to what decisions have been made based on what data. It also means that data would have to be input into web forms otherwise we’d not be able to access it for decisions.

And so we end up with a series of forms that carry all information for a workflow (no more paper)  implemented with web (or equivalent) technologies. The link to the physical document world is broken, and any paper that is necessary to the workflow can just be scanned and carried along in the workflow.

We call this class of technology a Business Process Engine.

Is it about time you asked for help? The Process Expert is ready to assist Australian business in getting on top of the COVID-19 curse instead of being destroyed by it.

Steve Barnes - The Process Expert Tweet

Here’s an example of a business process I designed and built for a radio station. It’s not rocket science, but the point is that there was a notepad for recording this, but people also left bits of paper and notes because of access problems, and of course lots came in emails too! You can doubtless see that having a single process that is accessible to staff everywhere is a real boon for this simple task of music management.

BPMN - Business Process Model & Notation

BPMN Process Diagram

The diagram above uses the now endemic standard of Business Process Model & Notation. Roles in the organisation are manifest in the ‘swim-lanes’; activities are the rounded rectangles and decisions are the small diamonds. Control and information flows are manifest in the directional lines. I started using BPMN when it first emerged, and actually commented on the first standard when it was in draft, so I know it very, very well. The beauty of BPMN is that it captures the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and HOW of business in one diagram. 

When used in Business Process Management (BPM) systems or Business Process Engines (same thing), the diagram is supplemented by dialogues to capture more specific information (for example about your organisation structure or information model). In this way, the environment is able to capture enough information to actually run your process!

Why Design and Run Processes in a Business Process Management platform?

This is way faster than coding, but that’s not the only attraction: the driver for all this is that processes are becoming increasingly important for:

At a time like this, when we have to change from working in our regular environment to working differently or at home, Organisational Agility is critical to survival. if you want more information about this, you can read more here. If you’re ready to hear about BPM on steroids, read on!

Smarter Technology: Cloud Connected Business Process Engines

What if we could make our business processes interact with other companies and with software? Now that would be really cool! 

  1. It would probably be necessary for our business process engine to migrate to (or at least connect to) the cloud, rather than running solely inside our business
  2. It would require a method for our proprietary business process software to talk to other software. That’s a done deal! You may have heard of Web Services; they are the way a business can expose functions, workflow and even a suite of functions for a whole software package to other ‘clients’. There are even cloud facilities that specialise in connecting different functions together. Zapier is one that I use. Here’s a screenshot of Zapier’s integrations to Xero, a popular accounting package.
Zapier's Xero Integrations

The Future Is Coming, And The Future Can Be Bright!

This class of technologies mean you don’t have to be isolated from your customers, and your staff can continue to work together in a meaningful, structured and productive manner even though person to person communication is severely hampered. If ‘social distancing’ is messing badly with your business, you need to get into Document Workflow and Business Process technologies. Would you like to know what’s available? Here’s part of a table I compiled as I spent weeks re-evaluating the Business Process / Workflow / ETL space last year. Feel free to follow the links (no strings attached, no affiliate codes).

Service

Last Reviewed

home page

Flokzu

25/10/2019

https://app.flokzu.com

Comindor

25/10/2019

https://www.comidor.com/

WorkflowGen

25/10/2019

https://www.workflowgen.com

Pulpstream

25/10/2019

http://www.pulpstream.com

Signavio

25/10/2019

https://www.signavio.com

Gluu

25/10/2019

https://www.gluu.biz

Process Street

12/09/2019

process.st

BPMonline

12/09/2019

bpmonline.com

Joget

12/09/2019

https://www.joget.org/

Bonita

12/09/2019

https://www.bonitasoft.com

Zapier

12/09/2019

www.zapier.com

Elastic.io

12/09/2019

http://elastic.io

Clover

15/08/2019

https://www.cloverdx.com/

BPM Technology Disclosure

Flokzu business process

After much detailed evaluation and trials of different platforms, I have chosen Flokzu as my preferred BPM (Business Process management) platform for The Process Expert. This is the third time I’ve conducted a rigorous survey of the market in order to find the best current product for myself and clients. Flokzu is great. I’m currently finalising my certification as a partner, but the urgency of the COVID-19 crisis has compelled me to act to try and preserve Australian businesses.

What Should You Do Now?

business decisions

Your business is likely suffering from communication constraints due to the COVID-19 virus, making business very difficult. You have a decision to make:

Minimise business to save expenses

you end up closing your business

The pandemic may go on for another month or two; some experts are projecting a year. If you pull back, you'll lose.

FIGHT: use technology to bridge the gaps and automate processes

Tackle The Difficulty with Smart Technology!

Fight the areas COVID-19 has sabotaged head on, using technology to bridge the gaps and automate processes that span between customers and staff; among staff and to partners and suppliers.

The Process Expert’s One Time; Time-Limited Offer

I know what it’s like to run a business. I also know what it’s like for a recession to take it down (think GFC), so I’m making an offer to Australian owned businesses:

 

  1. FREE CONSULTATION
    A free consultation, upto one 45 minutes in length, available over Zoom.
  2. 50 PERCENT OFF YOUR FIRST FLOKZU BPM PROCESS
    A 50 PERCENT reduction in my rate for the first process I analyse and build on the Flokzu Document Workflow & Business Process Engine: “Powerful cloud BPM, made agile & friendly”; with three months free hosting on the Flokzu platform (conditions may apply)
  3. 30 PERCENT OFF YOUR FIRST STREAK WORKFLOW
    A 30 PERCENT reduction in my rate for the first process I analyse and build using STREAK for Gmail. Streak is a powerful little CRM and Workflow solution that integrates into Gmail. I use it myself, and it’s a great platform for small, agile solutions.

Remember: Flokzu has Public Forms and handled External Participants, so you’ll be able to interact with your clients and vendors, without needing them to go to your office! Streak provides a smaller scale solution that lives inside Gmail.

Get Started With Flozu Document Workflow & Business Process Engine

Fill out this form, and I’ll give you a brief call to see how I can advise you and we’ll set up your trial for Flokzu BPM. 

Call Me To Get Help!

Australian companies qualify for this offer. Call me on 0423 311 839 to start your business rescue.  Do it now 🙂

Best regards,
Steve Barnes
The Process Expert

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