One of the key ways you can adapt your operations is to develop systems and processes that can react quickly and accurately to changes as they happen. The response of governments at the city, state and federal level is going to evolve as the situation changes. The behavior of customers, partners, suppliers, agents and distributors is going to change too. You need to keep operating through all this change, without creating unnecessary manual clean up, without “hacking” temporary fixes every few weeks and without putting yourself at risk for legal or compliance (or publicity) problems.
One of the persistent myths in systems development is that systems and processes can’t be both flexible and compliant. COVID-19 puts this old saying under real pressure. If you work in a regulated industry (insurance, financial services) or deal with regulated consumer data, your regulators are not suddenly going to give you a pass because there’s a pandemic on. They might be a little more flexible, give you a little more time to report things or adopt new policies, but they’re going to expect you to remain compliant – even as what it means to BE compliant changes all the time. Now you really need to be flexible AND compliant.
One marketing department we worked with has the kind of flexibility you need. They can change the marketing offers they make to new customers whenever they need to. They can try multiple approaches to picking an offer to see which works best in rapidly changing circumstances. They have the transparency and auditability they need to show regulators that they never tried to sell products to people not eligible for them. This kind of system allows you to turn on a dime as states relax and tighten restrictions, guidance changes and new polices and regulations come out.
The key to compliant flexibility lies in business enablement. Like the marketing department in this example, you need business owners to understand and be engaged in managing the system, to be empowered to make the changes they need. They are the ones closest to the regulations, closest to the customer, setting the policies. When they can see how the system is behaving, change the way the process works, and drive the outcomes they need then you’ll get the quick, accurate, compliant response to change that the new era is going to require.
Building these kind of flexible yet compliant systems requires a focus on the decision-making embedded in these systems and on exposing that decision-making so business owners can change it themselves. The decision making is what changes the most often and the business owners are the ones who see those changes first and who understand them best. Decision modeling, business rules management and a focus on continuous improvement all contribute to developing these systems that can react quickly and accurately.
The good news is that there are proven, established ways to build these systems and we’ll be posting regularly on ideas and approaches and producing some great content. To stay up on these ideas, why not sign up for our newsletter.