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Building resilience through technology

Michael Worth Michael Worth

The best time to start thinking differently was yesterday. 

Have you ever seen the film Moneyball? It’s the true story about the Oakland As - the lowest-salaried Major League Baseball (MLB) team in the 2002 season. Without funds to recruit star hitters or pitchers, the team started the season with an 11-game losing streak. The team’s general manager, Billy Beane, then met Peter Brand, a graduate fresh out of Yale who convinced Billy to focus his efforts on undervalued players based strictly on key performance statistics. Long story short, this change of tact resulted in a 20-game winning streak for the Oakland As; they reached the playoffs only to lose to the powerhouse Yankees.  

Not bad, right? A simple shift in mindset from the heart to the head and proven statistical measures resulted in an incredible achievement. However, the question then becomes, why do we so often trust our heart, belief, or “gut feel” when trying to determine what is best for our business? Maybe we don’t know there is a better way of doing things hiding in plain sight. Maybe we actually believe the way we are currently doing things is driving the best outcomes for our business. Or maybe, we are just too afraid to “jump off a cliff” like Billy and Peter. Heck if your career is on the line after an 11-game losing streak, wouldn’t you want to try something, anything different? 

Realisation: The first step away from the status quo 

Few businesses have escaped the impacts of COVID-19 - from your local coffee shop down the road, to the likes of Apple and Microsoft. From supply-chain management to customer engagement to new working approaches, the pandemic has helped a lot of businesses jump off a cliff like Billy and Peter. If you have completely changed how you operate and you’re embedding resilience across your organisation - kudos. If not, you might need to accept that your business isn’t as shock-ready as you think. 

Here’s a basic example.  

Steve has been processing invoices for payment at ABC Corp for the last twenty-odd years. The business processes about 1,500 invoices a month, and it takes Steve a while to process each one. He’ll often get a few wrong requiring re-work.  

This is a prime example of how acceptance of the status quo, and to some extent, not realising roles like Steve’s could be done more efficiently or effectively results in failures within a business. From a personal perspective, Steve maybe like part of the family and it’s a hard thing to stomach. But this mindset limits the extent of resilience you can build into your business. 

On the other hand, if we think like Billy and Peter from Moneyball, we wouldn’t accept this status quo. We would recognise that our current way of operating does not set us up to succeed into the future. Here’s some key considerations to help unlock your business’s full potential.  

  • Have you completed an effectiveness review of your internal functions such as finance (e.g. payroll, accounts payable), legal or operations? There are several methodologies external advisers can help you implement to identify and systematically remove waste and variability within your operations. These practices can effectively optimise your operations and provide a wider framework for organisational change. 
  • Are you confident your business functions are still setup for success following COVID-19? A recent survey published by Mckinsey  revealed in Asia-Pacific, only 33% of businesses’ products and/or services were partially or fully digitalised prior to COVID-19. This has rapidly increased to 54% post COVID-19. 
  • How many “Steves” are there in your business? As businesses try to tighten the screws to reduce inefficiencies and cut costs, all eyes should be on individuals like Steve - it’s always beneficial to seek advice about the types of technology that can replace these roles and if there are any opportunities to retain and upskill certain team members so they can add value to other areas of the business.  

If the answer to any of these questions is no, you might want to consider embracing your inner Major League Baseball General Manager and accept now is as good a time as any for change. To help guide your thinking, use our business disruption assessment to identify some immediate risks your business could be facing as a result of COVID-19 – or any other future disruptions. This could be the difference between a losing streak and making the playoffs. 

Step two: Identify and quantify your inefficiencies  

Once you have accepted that there are fundamental issues that need to be resolved, you still might not fully understand the issue nor know how to solve it until you collect the necessary data and information required to make informed decisions. 

All we know so far is Steve processes about 1,500 invoices a month, the process is slow, and he gets a few wrong. This isn’t a lot to go on. So, the next step is to explore some different options to gain more insights. 

Process mapping 

Process mapping, although not necessarily glamorous, is a highly effective approach to understand at a fundamental level how a process functions from start to finish. It involves mapping out your entire business processes, including the various sub-processes within processes, the range of stakeholders involved, and the key decision points. The right process mapping technology can also help you establish process accountability, auditability, and compliance management. 

System driven metrics 

System driven metrics have never been more valuable than they are today.  Providing real-time visibility of your business, software solutions such as an Enterprise Resource Planner (ERP) are now widely integrated across businesses. From financials, to operations, to human resources, to reporting, leading edge ERP solutions ensure silo behaviour in your business is a thing of the past. This software can tie your disparate systems together, offering data analytics and insights to unlock potential across your entire organisation. 

Step three: Turn your information into value 

One of my favourite quotes from Moneyball is when Billy and Peter first meet. Peter says, “Your goal shouldn’t be to buy players. Your goal should be to buy wins. In order to buy wins, you need to buy runs.” So, how can your business “buy runs”? 

This is where the information you collated through process mapping, system driven metrics, or other means becomes really useful. There are two fundamental elements to consider when analysing a process or information to determine if an opportunity truly exists: 

  1. Feasibility: What is the actual likelihood of improving this process? 
  1. Benefit: What is the potential benefit in improving this process?  

For example, we may be able to quantify Steve’s role by analysing the process he goes through: 

  • It takes him about three minutes to process one invoice payment, from receiving the invoice in the AP mailbox, right through to posting for payment. He normally processes about 100 of these a day. 
  • We pay Steve $25 per hour to do his job (or $200 per day), which is costing us approximately $2 to process each invoice (based on 100 per day). On any given month we process about 1,500 invoices, which is therefore costing us $3,000 a month, or $36,000 a year. 

Once quantifiable feasibility and benefit metrics can be determined, we can establish the cost/benefit of implementing an alternative solution. You can use these insights to determine if a new process is more suited to perform the function.  

Although the process Steve performs at ABC Corp may seem like a ripe opportunity for an alternative solution given its feasibility and benefit metrics, there may be a range of processes, tasks, or functions within ABC Corp that display similar characteristics. By applying a similar approach, ABC Corp can effectively rank their processes, tasks, and functions in order from most benefit to least benefit, deriving the best use-cases and “easiest to sell” concepts from the outset. From here consideration can be given to implementing solutions, effectively working down the list. 

Step four: Turning insights into resilience-driven solutions 

Once the steps outlined above have been completed, you will probably be sitting there with a list of processes wondering “where to from here?” Unfortunately there is no silver bullet to process optimisation. The complexity of each process, the cost/benefit of an alternative solution, and the actual ease of implementation presents a range of options. Here are a few for you to consider.  

  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is effectively a bot deployed to complete repeatable and consistent tasks previously done by a human. Although RPA solutions aren’t free, they can achieve a high return on investment. RPA is both effective (next to zero error rates) and efficient (the number of tasks the bot can complete compared to a human), and it provides remarkable analytics and security. A report published by Gartner in late 2020 forecasted global RPA software revenue to reach $1.89 billion in 2021, an increase of 19.5% from 2020. The report notes various drivers attributing to this growth, including process quality, speed, and productivity, but also the need to meet cost reduction demands as a result of COVID-19. 
  • Automated Analytics platforms such as Alteryx provide data cleansing, manipulation and analysis at lightning fast speeds. Renowned for their capability to integrate seamlessly within big datasets, automated analytics ensure you spend less time on cumbersome, repeatable activities, and more time creating insight-driven action. Taking it one step further, you can combine an analytics platform with a data visualisation tool such as PowerBi or Tableau to present your analysis in a presentable, easy to digest manner, suitable for all stakeholders across your business. 
  • Workflow applications such as Microsoft’s Power Automate and Google’s Kissflow allow users to seamlessly automate their internal processes across multiple platforms. From sending automated and custom emails, to automatically updating a database, to receiving automatic updates on the weather, workflow applications are renowned for their efficiency and effectiveness in automating time-consuming repeatable tasks. To top it all off, each application integrates seamlessly with their provider’s suite. For instance, Microsoft offers a whole suite of “pre-built” workflows based around their application suite (Excel, Forms, OneDrive, the list goes on), ensuring you can hit the ground running. 


With the world changing around us, there has never been a better time to start thinking about how your business is setup for success now and into the future. Through a few simple steps, combined with some strategic direction, you can build the resilience required to weather any storm.


For further information, contact:

Michael Worth

Partner, Consulting
M: +64 21 623 944

Michael Chainey

Assistant Manager, Consulting
M: +64 27 650 7493