In their own words...
Read on below for the full transcript of the podcast.
[00:00] Kevin Craine (Everyday MBA): Hello, everyone, and welcome to Everyday MBA interviews with best selling authors, innovative thought leaders, and top shelf executives, all sharing their best techniques and tips that you don't learn in Business School. I'm your host, Kevin Craine, and I'm so pleased that you're listening.
Will 2021 be the year that we win the war on paper? What do I mean by that? Well, despite the notion of digital transformation and the paperless office, the truth is that in many organizations today, and in many key processes, paper still reigns. Everything from Finance and Accounts Payable or customer onboarding or order processing. Things that nearly all organizations have to industry specific activities like claims processing in the Insurance industry, or Manufacturing or Construction or Healthcare, a great deal of work still gets done with paper - and that makes it difficult to adapt to the destruction from the COVID-19 pandemic and adapt systems and adopt systems that enable remote work and virtual teams if your key activities rely on paper based processes. So what can you do about it? That's what we'll be exploring today with our guest, Olivia Bushe. Olivia is the CEO of FlowForma, an innovative provider of process automation and no code solutions for organizations in all industries. And she's here to talk about process automation, getting rid of the paper, and using a no code approach to getting it done. What is no code? And how is it an important and enabling approach to process automation and innovation? Well, we'll find out in this interview with Olivia Bushe in just a moment.
[02:11] Kevin Craine (Everyday MBA): Olivia Bushe, welcome to Everyday MBA. Now it's no secret that 2020 was a year of great disruption. It seems like 2021 is going to continue with that trend, at least for the foreseeable future and organizations everywhere, working to find new ways of working to embrace remote work and the disruption - but that's hard to do with paper based processes. And you say that 2021 should be the year of killing paper, how so? How do process automation tools help us get rid of paper and build efficiencies that we need today?
[02:48] Olivia Bushe (FlowForma): I think the big problem that has been that since COVID came on last year, you know, for the last 12 months, a lot of organizations are finding that their paper processes are broken. They simply don't work anymore, you used to be able to pass that file folder to your colleague beside you. And you can't do that anymore. So really, you know, the widespread problems caused by the manual and visible paper and spreadsheet processes as a result of COVID we think has really made an urgency for people to get rid of their paper processes to digitize and I mean, we've all been talking about a paperless office for years and years and years. I know in my 20 years of working, we've been talking about it the whole time. It's quite amazing. We haven't actually got there. But I think the pressure that's been caused from the pandemic has made people realize that this is something the need to do. Forrester have done a survey in this
last year in 2020. And it was illustrated that over two thirds of businesses had encountered broken processes when COVID-19 hit. So I think that speaks to itself. So you know, I think it's time to end the paper processes and you know, you get lots of benefits from that. So it improves your customer and employee experiences that reduces your costs. And you know, it helps you accelerate organizations accelerate their digital transformation across the enterprise by scaling up their automation. So I think it's a win-win for everyone. But I think there's just an added emphasis on the and that night.
[04:36] Kevin Craine (Everyday MBA): Well, it's important to make that transition if it was a nice to have before. It's a need to have now and in fact a need to have to not only survive today, but to actually thrive in the future. I believe that organizations that are good at embracing change and good at embracing the tools to as you say eliminate paper and bring automation to key processes will be the ones that thrive in the new normal. And one way to do that is with no code applications. And we hear a lot about no code applications and solutions FlowForma Process Automation is a no code solution. How does that contrast to a low code tool?
[05:18] Olivia Bushe (FlowForma): Yeah, so I think this is an important differentiation. I mean, for a long time, the market has talked about low code tools. And really, the no code and low code are just bunched together. Whereas now there's been a huge uptake in both of these tools. People are starting to distinguish between them. So for the no code tools, which is what we are, you know, we're designed for the non-technical developers. So they would often be called business, or citizen developers. We enable those people to build processes with minimal support from IT. So there's really no dependency in it, we are empowering the business user. And you don't have to depend on it. Whereas low code tools take a much more shared development approach where citizen developers still need a lot of help from IT. So they're not a true business user tool, you know, they still need a lot of help. And there may be some coding in there. And so really, with low code tools, a lot of the controls still sets with IT, you know, IT would monitor the environment, etc. Whereas the no code tools are really more about empowering the business user and remove them and not depend on IT, whereas with low code. There is functionality available with like code, but while you're working on the tools, you tend to end up working with IT seamlessly together. So to make it easier, but this still would be an IT dependency there.
[07:14] Kevin Craine (Everyday MBA): With no code, if I'm in IT, should I be worried? Will this eliminate my role as a support person? In many ways? What part does IT play in the deployment of no code? If anything?
[07:30] Olivia Bushe (FlowForma): Yeah, so I don't think IT needs to worry, I think the IT still would be supporting the infrastructure. But I think we all know that, due to pressure from the pandemic and the pressure to move fast, that there's such a demand on IT resources that they can't keep up with pace, that people need to roll out the processes. So organizations actually need to empower their business users, Kevin, because they don't have enough IT resources to do it. So I don't think IT need to worry, there's still a place for them. And they'll still be supporting the infrastructure. But I mean, we have had, for example, during the pandemic, we had Blackpool Teaching Hospital approach us, specifically for more users so that they could free up the IT resources, they wanted to free them up to concentrate on other things. So they wanted to spread the workload, and the way to do that was to enable the business user to do more things and to take the pressure off IT. So I think there's very much a need for both the business user to be empowered, but you still have your IT run the infrastructure. And you know, of course, there is lots of things where you need your IT developers, but the process automation part of it, the people who know the processes best are probably the business users. So it's always going to be a collaborative exercise, even if IT are rolling the dice. And with the pressures and demands of today's environment, it's better to empower more people to roll those out.
[09:09] Kevin Craine (Everyday MBA): The point being that you can move forward with application development in a much more expeditious way, and really start making a difference in those core processes. Whereas before you may have needed to wait for those resources. Or maybe you weren't, you know, and it didn't rise to the top of the list of IT support projects. Where are the opportunities today? You mentioned healthcare. Can you give us some examples of organizations that are employing no code, how they're using it and where the opportunities are today?
[09:39] Olivia Bushe (FlowForma): Yeah, so we've seen it and a lot in healthcare. We also see it in construction. So I'll give you a example. So there's a large hospital in Dublin and they came to us because they wanted to enable, I thought it was quite a unique term - they wanted to enable their white coats, which is the nurses and the doctors, and they wanted to enable them to do their jobs more efficiently. So they wanted to empower them rather than having to rely on IT. So they really, they will tell you that they use FlowForma in their hospital. And they have again during the pandemic, they extended their use of FlowForma. They wanted to stop people coming in, who had COVID with paper prescriptions, because obviously that spreads the disease and they wanted to automate that. So we were able to help them do that. Construction also then is an area where they usually have limited IT resources, they don't want spend a lot of money on IT resources, you know, their margins, profit margins are quite small. So you know, they need to be very efficient. And they would use a tool like ours because we have different features in the tools specifically to empower business users such as our Governance app, which really allows the business user to roll out the solution and allows them to roll out and monitor the use of the of the no code solution, the no code automation tool. In other areas, you would have to use IT to do that. Our governance app enables control and development and deployment of solutions by the business user. With low code tools or developer tools, that would all have to be monitored by IT. So again there would come a dependency on IT and the companies we work with don't want that or don't have the resources in IT to do that. So they have to look for other ways and empowering the business user is one way to do that.
[12:34] Kevin Craine (Everyday MBA): Now Olivia, efficiency and visibility are significant benefits from digitizing paper processes. But collaboration is also important, especially during times such as now, how does process automation facilitate a collaborative approach to digital processes?
[13:09] Olivia Bushe (FlowForma): Yeah, absolutely. Kevin, collaboration is really important, now with a lot of people remote working, probably most of the world is still remote working at this stage. You know, when you're a remote worker, you need something to add structure to your day to maintain productivity and process automation tool that give us the user's direction, and what task is next, how they need to collaborate with their colleagues on that task. So it just gives up structure that's helpful when you remote working. And again, the paper processes are broken when you're remote working, you can't collaborate person to person with the person sitting beside you in the office, that's no longer available. So it's just give some structure there and facilitates a collaborative approach. Now we also have a Teams app at FlowForma, we integrate with Microsoft Teams, which enables the users to work on tasks and collaborate with colleagues at the same time. So creates much more like a virtual office environment. Because if you were in the office, that's what you'd be doing, you'd be talking to people and working on your task at the same time. So use them, FlowForma and Teams, together and create that virtual office environment for you. You know, at the end of the day, it's helping everyone achieve their business goals. And that's what it's all about. That's what we all want.
[14:36] Kevin Craine (Everyday MBA): 2021 should be the year of killing paper. With the removal of paper in departments and processes, presumably this has had a positive impact on the environment around us. Tell us more.
[14:48] Olivia Bushe (FlowForma): Absolutely it has, so you know reducing paper lowers your carbon footprint. And you know, we've had examples off the hospital I mentioned earlier. They saved 900,000 sheets of paper, and which is 90 trees in a short period of time than like six months. So, you know, it really made a huge difference. So sustainability is one thing. And then there's the cost savings. So, you know, obviously, with those sheets of paper, some of those had to be mailed out, which would normally cost postage, so they saved on the postage of those paper. So there's lots of savings as well as on the sustainability side. We had another customer that saved $80,000 by digitizing one process alone. So you've got the mix of sustainability, environmental, you know, reduced emissions from travel. And because we have the FlowForma mobile app, and a lot of construction companies use that. And they can use it remotely on site, they're not having to travel and bring paper back to headquarters. So those journeys are cut down, because they're able to actually log in the system on site and do what they need to do. Whereas before, they would have been picking up a piece of paper on site, bringing that back to the headquarters, and there would have been paper being shuffled back and forth between the sites. So if you're able to remove that you reduce emissions from travel. So a lot of companies would use us to help them meet sustainability regulation demands.
[16:27] Kevin Craine (Everyday MBA): One of the things that I love about what you folks do at FlowForma Process Automation, and no code is the enablement of these improvements. And the fact that business owners process owners can do it for themselves. And it's quick, it's quicker than traditional ways. Is there an average timeframe for how quick organizations are seeing a return on their investment? And how quick can businesses expect to implement and go live?
[16:55] Olivia Bushe (FlowForma): So Kevin, it does differ from case to case. You know, I would say with FlowForma you customize, you're able to customize each process to your own individual needs. So it does depend how complex a process is. But you know, taking an average, generally we would, customers would start seeing a return on their investment within the first month of the process going live. You know, some people see it immediately - a lot of customers actually don't even track the KPI and the difference made because they would say, well, there wasn't anything in place before. So it's, we know what's made such a huge difference. We have customers that, we have a small college in England that's a customer and they've saved lots and lots of time equivalent to one and a half people. And when they implemented FlowForma, within the year, they had seen the savings. So we also have developed an onboarding programme called SureStart, which is specifically designed to help you get up and running as quickly as possible. So we give you some training on FlowForma. And you should be able to learn like yourself. So you know, the point to FlowForma is that so that users can take the tool and learn it themselves so they can make changes themselves and they don't need to involve expensive IT services every time they want to make a change. The share start programme gets you live in your first process. So generally we would say that within a month of the process going live people are seeing a great return on their investment.
[19:27] Kevin Craine (Everyday MBA): Olivia, we're almost out of time. But before I let you go one last question. What should CIOs and executives and business owners be thinking about today and strategizing for in order to be prepared for the business world in five years time?
[19:54] Olivia Bushe (FlowForma): Yeah, that's a really difficult question Kevin. Given what we've seen in the last year has brought about. But there was something you had mentioned at the start that I think is applicable here is that the only certainty we'll have is that there's going to be more change. So, the past 12 months the change has impacted business greatly with the pandemic, remote work. Life has changed dramatically for everyone. So I think the thing that companies should prepare for is their ability to manage change, because that you can be certain that there's going to be change. And you know, digitizing your processes is one way to help you manage change, because you can move much quicker. You know, if it's a no code tool, it makes yourself reliant. You can change things yourself quickly. So it just makes you much more agile and flexible, which I think is what companies need to be in the current world.
[21:06] Kevin Craine (Everyday MBA): Olivia, thank you so much for being our guest today on Everyday MBA.
[21:18] Olivia Bushe (FlowForma): Thank you.