The Covid-19 pandemic not only jolted human life worldwide, but also unleashed a big assault on organisations. Companies suddenly had to brace for the new reality of telecommuting, digitised paperwork and virtual meetings. Many organisations that were grossly under prepared for this sudden shift, folded up.
This sudden shift to online has resulted in a digital deluge. The result? Archaic processes and technologies built for the pre-pandemic era, creating undue strain on organisations, preventing companies from achieving stellar growth. As a result, several organisations suffer from the process and end up in technical debts. In contrast, several others hurriedly adapted to the new order and managed to survive.
So, what exactly are technical and process debts? Why should CIOs and CFOs ignore these debts at their peril? Can low-code and hyper-automation help companies overcome this debt trap? Let us explore these.
Technical debts (sometimes called code or tech debt) result when development teams place a premium on the schedule, compromising quality. Usually, this happens when there is pressure to deliver at short notice, leading technical teams to deliver sub-optimal code, which requires constant tweaking and heavy maintenance. The problem with technical debt is that it robs companies of critical budgets that would otherwise go to innovation and improving the organisation’s top line. According to research done by Outsystems, organisations are likely to spend five trillion dollars in the next ten years to maintain tech debt. The same study states that, on average, companies spend 28 per cent of their budgets on maintaining this patchwork of under performing applications. Imagine out of $100, you spend $28 on IT support systems on under performing technologies. If you thought technical debt was a significant problem for many organisations, meet its cousin, the business process debt.
Business process debt
Business process debt arises when organisations are stuck with inefficient processes. For example, process debt accrues when organisations rely on manual processing (with little or no digital footprint). Process debt also arises when businesses face people constraints or suffer from a lack of IT savviness. Dependency on key subject matter experts and process champions can be a big challenge. In a recent survey conducted by Gartner, 69 per cent of the board of directors say that digital acceleration is their number one priority1. Certainly, archaic processes won’t help executives achieve their mission.
So, what can they do about it?
Hyperautomation and low code to the rescue
Organisations suffering from huge technical and process debts can leverage low code and hyperautomation to overcome these shortcomings. According to Forrester’s John Rymer, low-code makes “software development ten times faster than traditional methods2.”
Apart from productivity gains, the other significant benefit of low-code is agility, which allows organisations to change their code and maintain it, thus reducing software development and maintenance costs several-fold. No doubt enterprises are adopting low-code in droves. Gartner states, “By 2025, 70 per cent of new applications developed by enterprises will use low-code or no-code technologies, up from less than 25 per cent in 20203.”
Earlier, we talked about process debt. It is worth reassessing your processes and procedures if your organisation still relies on analogue or archaic methods. For example, let us suppose that you still receive payments via postal mail or manually reconcile invoices and purchase orders. In that case, it is time you considered technologies such as OCR and Document AI.
OCR technologies extract key information and can help automate processes involving forms and documents such as bank statements, invoices, purchase orders, receipts, application forms, and government IDs. Using these technologies can vastly reduce your reliance on critical human resources and can help increase efficiency significantly. Another vital tool in the repertoire of hyperautomation is process mining which can help organisations unearth key bottlenecks in the real world. Once identified, organisations can take necessary actions to fix these shortcomings.
Similarly, for organisations with a higher degree of standardised processes driven by business rules, using RPA bots can be pretty effective. RPA bots can take the place of human workers, driving down costs and increasing agility. These bots can work 24x7, and a single bot can execute multiple processes in a given day.
In summary, today’s CXOs should take technical debt and process debts very seriously as they impact an organisation’s growth. Harnessing hyperautomation technologies can deliver efficiencies and help executives steer their organisation towards growth.