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FAST Framework: Shared Services’ Much Needed Artillery Against COVID-19
Bhavdeep Singh Sethi AVP & Head Intelligent Automation Practice, HCL Digital Process Operations | June 15, 2020
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Shared services operations face a multitude of challenges during the COVID-19 crisis. These include being able to optimize remote work-from-home models, build resilient business continuity plans (BCP), maintain a high due diligence of new partnerships, foster their talent, manage distributed operations, and streamline their operational processes. But these problems can’t be solved by simply acquiring a digital tool, rather, it’s about enacting a framework that can help organizations scale and drive new businesses for the new paradigm.

Evolving Shared Services for the New Normal

For this purpose, I have designed the FAST framework approach which can help organizations become flexible and robust, thereby improving their fluidity and adaptability during a crisis period. The four-step methodology encompasses the key aspects that the shared services industry need to focus for the future.

  1. Fluid Workspace

    With restricted traditional work environments, fluid workspaces can establish digitally capable work environments that requires minimal human contact but produces high productivity. This involves implementing smart assets and integrated digital platforms. Such robust infrastructure can help enterprises deliver outcomes with a fraction of human labor and operational costs, even post-lockdown. A fluid workspace enables employees to communicate, collaborate, and gain access to critical infrastructure through a secure and transparent system.

  2. Adaptive Collaboration

    The current crisis necessitates that organizations find alternatives for traditional on-site visits, in-person meetings, and in-room training sessions. In this regard, the use of tools such as augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) is a critical enabler. Combined with cloud-based e-learning platforms, AR/VR can help organizations ensure that their workers not only experience zero-latency video conferencing but also acquire effective upskilling and cross-skilling opportunities. A focus on adaptive collaboration can allow firms to support the professional and personal growth of their workers despite the challenges and allow them to widen their skills sets while enhancing productivity.

  3. Seamless Operations by EXACTOTM

    During times of crisis, an organization’s workforce faces multiple challenges simultaneously which can lead to high stress and low productivity. In our experience, empowering workers with automation tools can prove invaluable in ensuring seamless operations that mitigate these challenges. For example, HCL’s EXACTO, provides enterprises with a Natural Language Processing-based automation engine that accelerates documentation processing, accurate indexing, and classification of PO and non-PO. EXACTO’s natural language processing capabilities can also process both structured and unstructured texts. By implementing EXACTO in a stressed operational framework, we’ve seen first-hand results of higher accuracy, greater efficiency, and improved overall productivity.

  4. Technology Transformation

    While digital tools allow organizations to streamline their processes and enable remote working, it only accumulates terabytes of data without actionable insights. Employing analytics and self-service business intelligence (BI) tools on the data can become the most critical strategy for shared services industry to ensure long-term success. Analytics and BI are like arsenal helping organizations identify opportunities and dangers at the right moment through reporting and assessment of critical assets. They not only save costs from resolving the problems in real time, but also opens them to greater revenue generating streams.

Forward-thinking, digitally capable shared services organizations are already leveraging digital innovations to reimagine their futures. But evolution is not the same as change. True technology transformation is about how organizations think of digital as an enabler of innovation. The FAST framework helps shared services organization drive innovation that improves employee participation, fulfills customer expectation, and build greater resilience in the face of uncertainties. It is only by taking this approach, enterprises can truly think beyond surviving and focus on thriving, fast.

True digital transformation is about transforming how organizations think of digital as an enabler of innovation.

If you wish to know more, please download the extended POV on the FAST Framework.