Remote working

Why structured data and process should be your best friends

Our working lives have dramatically changed with the onset of remote working. The jury is still out on the pros and cons of shifting away from centralised office life, yet a fundamental truth has not changed: our ability to concoct the right mix of people, process and technology impacts a host of downstream implications for our businesses.

Are work outputs inconsistent? More process might be required. Are your staff unhappy with low-level work? Perhaps some sensible triage or automation, or even an outsourcing arrangement might be an answer. When is a call better than an email, or face to face necessary? Do your staff have a clear idea as how and when to escalate or collaborate on their work? Somewhere between balancing the type of work we do and our business priorities, we settle on a happy medium and manage the edge cases as best we can.

Consider the workflows most important to your business or function. ‘Important’ usually falls into two camps: 1) Compliance: if this thing didn’t happen correctly, we’d be in trouble with customers, regulators, etc; or 2) Commercial: our commercial viability relies on this process happening effectively, e.g. sales, customer contracting, or operational aspects such as customer support. Each of these has its’ operating model: the blend of people, process and technology which perhaps you grew into, or inherited from industry standards, or are using to differentiate from peers. These operating models independently evolve over time through continuing tweaks for efficiency, competitive pressure, or changing norms. And because they are important to you, they should be, at the very least, ‘understood’.

A moment of honesty might reveal that for many of these important workflows, we fail at the first post: from management down many involved don’t understand the process fully, couldn’t describe how it performs, or what the operating model is intended to be – it just ‘is’. This was often wholly acceptable when we worked in the same office. We filled gaps or changes in process with face to face collaboration, often ad-hoc. Remote working changes this fundamentally, and this is where the twins of structured data and process can help. They are the bedrock which allows you to safely continue to understand, deliver and evolve those workflows most important to your business. They inform on demand or throughput, highlight bottlenecks, and feed your decision-making on both how to do the work and in performing the work itself.

We at Autologyx believe that well understood data and process, combined with automation where appropriate, are more critical than ever in the brave new world of remote work. The effort to understand your domain from a data-up perspective, what is tracked, why and how it can be effectively leveraged across the business, ripples across all aspects: your people by enabling them to be effective, and ultimately happier; your process by managing and tracking processes with data insights and KPIs; and your technology with single sources of truth and lack of data repetition.

This article was originally published in Briefing Magazine as a Partner Comment