Challenges need solutions. With COVID-19, the world is currently dealing with one of the greatest challenges of our time. We would like to show opportunities how something positive can also emerge from Corona and how you can quickly develop and implement digitization strategies that can lead to better work and project quality in the long term.

Suddenly digital?

The corona pandemic has been keeping the world in suspense since March 2020. The economy in Germany and the whole world was hit equally hard from now on. Economic activities have been shut down as far as possible, contacts have been and will continue to be avoided and people are shifting many activities to the Internet. Both appointments to eat and customer meetings as well as consumer behavior are carried out from the laptop at home. From now on, orders will be delivered contactless (if possible). Schools were closed and face-to-face teaching became homeschooling, distance learning or "teaching in shifts" in a long-lasting process. In numerous companies, employees were sent straight home from the offices in order to work from home from now on. What does this mean for companies, sectors, schools, etc.? Processes that have grown historically in most industries and in the public sector are being turned upside down or frozen outright. New "digital" processes are needed from now on. Presence, traceability and one's own reputation on the Internet are more important than ever, the delivery of goods and the supply chains behind them are taking center stage instead of personal discussions on site. Employees working from home have to organize themselves more and find a new way of working together.

To accept the challenge

In many companies and industries in Germany, digitization has been repeatedly pushed into the future due to complexity and costs. And that is not entirely unfounded, because digitization usually involves major organizational and technical challenges at the beginning. However, there is no alternative to digitization in a networked world and the pandemic is once again pointing the finger at the wound that things have to start immediately.

Solution approaches: First big steps on the digital path

The Corona Pandemic shows how (in)flexible some sectors and companies are at the moment and reveals the weak points. This is the start that may have been needed many times in order to tackle the topic of digitization and to look at it holistically. Nevertheless, it will not be expedient to "overthrow" and restart all processes immediately. There are too many dependencies for that and there are also good reasons why processes exist as they have in the past. From this point of view, we recommend thinking in smaller steps and taking on individual business processes in a targeted manner and digitizing them step by step. The changes have a moderate impact and the employees are gradually introduced to the new processes. Because it is also very important to emphasize that digitization of processes does not mean releasing employees, only the type of activity that the employee spends will change. Model business processes The first priority is the analysis of the respective business processes, i.e. drawing a rough picture of the company processes. In an agile context, individual business processes are then specifically removed and modeled. With this minimally invasive approach, a business process can be designed that functions as independently as possible from other processes. New systems and working methods are tried out on the basis of adapted processes and quickly provide insights into how well this type of adaptation works. However, adapting business processes can also mean breaking down departmental silos. For example, the business process is reorganized at the interface between marketing and sales. If the marketing department was previously only responsible for generating new leads, real added value will be created if they are also involved in the further customer lead process in the future. If the marketing department receives feedback in the future as to when the sales department will talk to the customer on which topics, marketing can use future marketing campaigns in a more targeted manner and invest the budget in such a way that not only measures lead to more leads but also to longer-term and thus higher sales. Conversely, based on your experience, marketing can provide sales with precise information about which phase of the decision-making process the customer is currently in and when is the ideal time for a customer meeting. Only then will further business processes be adapted in a targeted manner - based on the newly gained knowledge. These small steps allow employees to learn in a targeted manner and to train and get used to the partly new working methods, technology and tools so that regular business operations can continue.

Creating values Which processes should be adjusted first, and which processes should be digitized to bring the greatest added value? It is not enough to just consider the costs and complexity - the added value of processes must also be included in digitization considerations. Added values can be viewed very differently, for example the additional digital reach, a higher package penetration or the reduction in the abandonment rate on the website through better visitor guidance. Agile approach Agile means continuous transparency in the procedure and increased flexibility in order to be able to react to project and environmental influences. Finished products are delivered (or processes are adapted) at short intervals so that they can be tried out and learned directly in practice. Any errors are discovered earlier (earlier) and influence further product and process development. A complete adjustment or change of all business processes overwhelms companies and employees alike, because the complexity is too great and hinders (or hinders) the previously functioning operations. Concentrating on sub-business processes makes it possible to make the changes more manageable and feasible for everyone, acceptance by employees increases significantly, they learn new ways of working and new (technical) systems. Findings are used to plan the next steps of digitization based on the needs of the company and employees, instead of designing processes on paper from the outset, which may not be practical enough. Agile does not mean haphazard - but an iterative approach adapted to needs with a constant learning curve that delivers continuous results.

Time Digitization, which has not been addressed sufficiently or not up to now, will not be caught up in 3 months. Changes take time, since new business processes first have to be established and perhaps also have to be justified. But through targeted adaptation and digitization of the respective processes, agile working achieves milestones without losing sight of the holistic view. For example, if the analogue fax reports to the health authorities are digitized by sending and receiving them digitally, process steps such as printing out, viewing documents and scanning them again are no longer necessary. The employees have significantly more time to take care of other activities such as contact tracing.

Customers and Employees Your target group is larger than you think. Digitization will change the way employees work and the (shopping) behavior of customers. Take all target groups with you on the journey by actively informing the customer about new processes. Support the employees by involving them in decisions and the redesign of processes at an early stage and letting them help shape them. In addition to increasing acceptance, this also increases long-term success and increases the quality of work and projects in the long term.

A mature digital strategy certainly cannot be developed overnight. Of course, you need the means, the time, but also the will to go this route and put your company on a competitive footing. Anyone who sets up their business processes digitally and actively involves their employees and customers in the upcoming changes lays an important foundation for successful digitization.