In their own words...
Read on below for the full transcript of the podcast.
[00:00] Ursula Cullen: Hello and welcome to the FlowForma podcast; Disrupting BPM. Ursula Cullen, Digital Marketing Executive here, and today I'm going to be interviewing Shay O'Connor, Head of solutions from FlowForma. COVID-19 has broken down office walls and those who had digitized and empowered staff with process automation and unified communication tools have seen remote teams thrive. Today we'll be discussing the new normal and how to best prepare for a paperless world. Shay, we've heard the description 'new normal' a lot, what does this mean to the people that you deal with?
[00:34] Shay O'Connor: Yeah, new normal. That phrase I'd say is probably driving most people nuts at the moment because literally every media outlet, all papers, any submissions you hear all the time now on TV, everything. It's all of the new normal. Now the reason for all of this is because there had to be a phrase or description put on the way we're going to be working, not just now; it's the future. So it's the foreseeable future that we need to adjust to. The old way is not going to be around anymore. We are not going to be able to interact as closely as we've always done. We're not going to be able to have, you know, really cramped office working spaces. There is a new way and we have to find a nice balance where as sanity prevails and we can keep going, keep being efficient.
[01:29] Shay O'Connor: For the most part an alpha of organizations up to now have been kind of stuck in the headlights. You know, they've been, wondering what are we going to do here? They really want to see how economies are going to change, how they're going to adjust. We're lucky enough that, we are automatically in the environment of remote operation. So we're used to this for a long time. So it's coincidental that something like this actually lands on our lap where we would have experience - years of experience of coping with remote connectivity and operating digitally. We would have that experience anyway. And again, it's just a coincidence that we're in that position, to offer not just advice, but the experiences of organizations so far.
[02:19] Ursula Cullen: Yes, definitely. What do you think then we can do to prepare for this new normal?
[02:24] Shay O'Connor: Yeah, well that's the key word isn't it: preparation. The reality is you got to prepare. So you cannot be stuck in the head lights. You've got to embrace the fact that, okay, this is the scenario that we're in. So ourselves, your own organization, your competitors, your customers, the third parties you deal with; they are all waiting to operate as closely to what they would consider normality as possible. A big thing about that is collaboration, visibility. We all sort of get to our inboxes in the morning and you see high numbers, you know, that you have to cover. And the reason for that is people aren't communicating correctly digitally. If they have a query, they are sending an email, if they were requesting something, they are sending an email, you want something signed off, you send an email and there's too many there.
[03:22] Shay O'Connor: Now email is great, don't get me wrong. And your inbox will still be active. But you need to reduce those numbers and how do you do that? From a preparation point of view, you have to embrace the fact that you have platforms available to you, available to every organization where they can collaborate, where you can interact from a business point of view and that interaction is going to be efficient, it's going to be visible. So for example, back to work processes. We would have a lot of requirements for preparation for organizations where the governments are telling you now you need to have back to work processes in place. So have all of these things being done all of these checklists. Who's going to do this? Who's going to do that? Is there going to be an audit then that you have done everything correctly?
[04:22] Shay O'Connor: Because some staff members may not be happy with what you've done to prepare for return to work. So you need to have as a priority, not just safety but also the visibility that you are understanding that remote work and say office space work can work in tandem. So your office space, that used to hold a hundred people can now only hold 30. So what are the other 70 going to do? They're going to operate from home for the most part. So you have to have an environment then that everybody, if you're in the office or external, there has to be a consistency. So you can't rely on the whiteboard that's in your office anymore. You have to rely on technology. So technology is what's going to do it. We can't have paper around anymore, or at least a massive reduction in that. So in preparation, the first thing you gotta do is show all your organization, your staff, everybody that you are doing something because people are worried about their jobs as well. So they also have the feeling that, "Hey, if my organization is doing something about this and we can roll with this," then you're in a far better position.
[05:45] Ursula Cullen: On that Shay then, what have been the most common requests that you've heard from your customers?
[05:50] Shay O'Connor: Oh, that's easy. Integration with Microsoft teams, massive. And the ability to include third parties within your processes. With our customers, what they want to have is not only the ability to have all of their operations and their processes digitized, which they've already done, but not all of them. So they would have certain ones done, but they're increasing that. But they want to be able to now bring in customers.
[06:20] Shay O'Connor: Or third parties, vendors, etcetera. They're going to try and pull those in, but by using the same process. So not break what they already have created. An addition to it, so it's an add in on that. And then there's also the mobile app. So say you were to check the return to work, that somebody's going to be walking around the office, getting things done, but they want to be able to have their mobile in their hands, you know, to just pick it up and they want to just get this done. This is done - tick it, think, "yeah I need to do this, take a photo of that". That's sort of ability is really important or that sort of functionality is really important. So we will get requests from our existing customers and even newer customers who are taking a look at this from an objective point of view and really want to try and be proactive.
[07:14] Shay O'Connor: So we are getting these requests from our clients to say, listen, we get the whole digital thing, we get it. It is part of like I only read a McKinsey report that recently that just as part and parcel of everything, even though you have to take care of the environment - as in the working environment, you also have to digitize what you already do. You need to have that consistency. So everybody's used to it, no matter where they are, they're used to doing things in the new way. So as I say, integration with teams, massive. Microsoft teams, inclusion of third parties, massive. And customers: allowing customers to kickoff queries, etcetera, and be involved in queries and the mobile app. Those three things. Thankfully again, for our customers all those facilities are available. Like now they're available now at this minute for our customers. They just want to utilize it completely, because now it's an all encompassing adaption or adoption, of these sort of features that's required
[08:25] Ursula Cullen: Yes. You're a hundred percent right. And then for the people that you know want to adopt them on to prepare now, what would your advice be for them to get up and running very fast?
[08:36] Shay O'Connor: All the customers we deal with are on Office 365, so they already have a platform that's cloud based that has the infrastructure that can expand and contract, depending on your usage. So that's in place. So there's no worries there. But what they need to do is get senior support within the organization. So somebody at a high level who is going to back what you're trying to do. They're going to be supportive of the fact that you're going to try and normalize the way you operate in a digital format to try and collaborate no matter where anybody is. You have that senior support person in place. Now a nice thing to do at this stage, and it's something that we've suggested to some of our clients who are really trying to motivate the workforce, is to involve everybody in a kind of gamification scenario..
[09:41] Shay O'Connor: So basically ask everybody in your organization or a select group in your organization, what are their suggestions for a digital process, for example, that would make a difference. So if you had a magic wand and you could change a process that it was digital and that you could collaborate on it easily, what would it be? Get your results in and then go through a vetting process. So have a team that looks at that and go right and select and whittle it down to contenders and let those contenders have a prize. So in other words, if you make a submission, that's one thing. But if you get to the next level, you get a voucher for something and you get to the next level again and then the winner gets a nice prize at the end of it all. The cool thing is, use the digital platform that you're trying to use across the organization.
[10:44] Shay O'Connor: Use that as part of this gamification. So send out the request to everybody with a link to your form, to your digital form. They can make their submission, but that gets included in a process and that process then they can have visibility of whether they made it or not. They can be automatically notified. All those nice things that a process does for you or that a digital process does for you. So get that going, get the group involved. It means that you're going to get a lot more feeling of inclusion and you get a far higher level of buy in from users. And it's a bit of fun. So you can, I mean, people come up with all sorts of wacky ideas, which is, which is a bit of fun and sometimes it's nice to include one of them just to give everybody a bit of a giggle. The nice thing is when you have this environment put together, this digital environment put together, you need to be in a position to react quickly then to the user feedback. So you bring in your process that people weren't used to that before. They weren't used to a digital process. They have visibility now they can see that this is my step when I put in my information. But if they feel 'you know something, I think we need to be able to say attach a document to this or I need somebody else to sign off on this document before I agree to it or my actions here, I'm not really sure I might need an extra bit of collaboration on this'. If you need to change the process, you need to have a platform that can adjust quickly. So react fast. Otherwise again, you might lose the users.
[12:26] Shay O'Connor: So if you've given them a facility to interact and collaborate with their group and their colleagues, yes, the suggestions they make after you've made it live can't be reacted to or can't be implemented for a long time. You're going to lose the appetite. So the big thing is, and again, because at FlowForma, we know this because the no-code platform, you can make adjustments very fast and react fast. That means you don't lose quality. But you do get a faster reply to requests and a faster reaction without the need to involve third parties or specialists, skills or professional services because that's what holds up a lot of projects. The lack of agility, the lack of ability to adjust and change. So you've got your platform and Office 365. Brilliant. Okay. So you've got your digital platform, it's all cloud based. You're in a good place.
[12:34] Shay O'Connor: Start using the likes of Microsoft Teams, then obviously you use FlowForma's one, where my expertise is in, so a platform like FlowForma, involve users, involve a user group, etcetera, from a competition point of view, a gamification point of view, get them all interested. So their process could go live and they could get a prize for it. But make sure that the platform or what you're doing; you can react quickly. Then because - while applicable - because all processes that say FlowForma do automatically are rendered for a mobile app. Then allow people to use their mobile apps as well so they can be out and about literally out in about not even at a desk and be involved in processes. It's really simple because all this technology is available, it's fully available. Our customers use it all the time and all it is for them is just adjustment of getting more, do a bit more and then another little bit more, let's start involving third parties let's start using the mobile app a bit more.
[14:42]Shay O'Connor: But we have all of these customers doing this for the last few years. But a lot of organizations haven't been doing this or they might have used like one digital processor, or a couple, or they might have systems that are specific. So a HR system or a finance system and now the other processes that they were doing which were okay because Hey, you know I could talk to somebody across the partition in work or I could do this or I could see is this done; now, they need to get more visibility on all of that. Like if you're at home and you come to your desk, do your work, you go inbox, everybody just goes inbox, what's going on. But the nice thing is like with FlowForma, you got a list of your to do because automatically, if you're including processes, you can see your to do list from a process point of view. Then everybody has visibility. We know that Ursula is going to get this step done and if it's not done by a certain time, there's a reminder. Now I know I'm a culprit for a lot of things that I get requests to do. So I like the fact that I have the reminder popping up going, 'Hey Shay, you were meant to have done this or you're meant to do this by the end of today'. I love that. I go, okay, I get it. Because we all, for the most part, we all say, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. But it's nice to get a prompt. It's nice to get that little prompt that you don't have to think about that taps you on the shoulder and goes, you got to do this by the end of this day - otherwise it's visible in the process that you haven't done it.
[16:15]Shay O'Connor: No, no, I'm doing this. Okay, so that sort of help instead of feeling isolated in your remote area, you have that little bit of a help going on with your digital processes. So what I would say to get this up and running, obviously you get the FlowForma app, you download it, make sure that it's going to do what you needed to do. What you want is to digitize processes and have control over them. It's going to do that. And then you start targeting the obvious process that people will like. One of them could be a gamification process. It's very simple. Get it up and running with that and then from people's suggestions, select something that you know, I'm sure a lot of people will say we really need this digitized; select that one. Then also get people involved in that. So have a user group: some of the best implementations of FlowForma have been with organizations who have user groups and they would involve them say once a month to say, okay, this is what we're doing. How does this fit with what you guys want to be successful in?
[17:20] Shay O'Connor: One of the hospitals that we deal with, for example, they've used group that meets every month and they instead of just picking processes, they select and prioritize processes based upon impacts on the organization. Really important. That's pretty much it, I mean you have to start somewhere. Don't try and get it perfect straight away. Do not try and do that because the only time you find how good a process is, is when it's actually being used live. So get a good-enough-to-go version out there, get feedback, but react quickly so you can change it around. So they would be my tips so far and I'm sure we'll have more. But so far, organizations who are setting a standard for themselves and their vertical - those organizations; this is what they're doing. This is how they're embracing it and they are going to get ahead of everyone. They're going to be flying. So they'll be putting themselves in the best position to adapt to our new normal.
[18:32] Ursula Cullen: Yes Shay, I completely agree with you there. I know for ourselves we've been able to adjust and working from home, you know, it's been different, but we've gotten into the swing of things and thanks to FlowForma, you know, as you said with your tasks: I'm the exact same. I like having my to do list for the day and making sure everything gets ticked off and it's great for monitors to be able to have full view of what everyone is working on as well. I really want to thank you, Shay, for joining me today. As we mentioned as well, if anyone wants to take our offer of a free 14 day trial, they can quickly go onto our website. It's www.flowforma.com/trial - we also have a COVID-19 center as well, where you can have a look at our special pricing bundles up there too. So thank you very much, Shay. You've been listening to the FlowForma: Disrupting BPM podcast today. Bye now.