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Organizational resilience: Why you need it & how to achieve it

Joe ThomasThis article is written by Joe Thomas, Solutions Evangelist Certinia. His goal is to help organizations understand the “how and why” cloud-based technology can help them run a most intelligent, agile, and connected business.  Get his insights here on achieving organizational resilience.

Gartner’s recently refreshed “Building Organizational Resilience Is a Strategic Imperative” research note is well worth your time to read, especially as we see no end to the geopolitical and economic volatility in the near term. Three points resonated with me very strongly as I thought about the implications of this research for Certinia, our customers, and our prospects.

  1. Outsource resilience where you can
  2. Think broadly/cross-functionally
  3. Relentlessly monitor internal and external conditions

Gartner defines organizational resilience as “the ability of an organization to resist, absorb, recover, and adapt to business disruption in an ever-changing and increasingly complex environment to enable it to deliver its objectives, and rebound and prosper.”

Sounds great right, who doesn’t want that? The problem is that it’s not easy, or quick.

Gartner makes this clear stating: “Organizational resilience requires a deliberate effort to design resilience characteristics into five organizational layers – leadership, culture, people, processes and infrastructure – to maintain its adaptive capacity to execute upon under stress.”

Those five layers are a lot, what can an organization do to make it easier?

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1. Outsource resilience where you can

Very few of our customers have the backend infrastructures of Google, AWS, or Salesforce, but in committing to an application ecosystem built on an enterprise-class infrastructure, 100% of our customers obtain much of the benefit.

Every integration you have to build between your core applications is a potential point of failure, and at best, consumes time, effort, and resources you could be using to build up resilience in other places.

The same is true for every manual process. That capacity or estimation spreadsheet that Kathy or Kevin spends 30 hours a week to maintain and distribute isn’t resilient, especially in the time of the Great Resignation. Think of it like a garden hose set in concrete, a short-term fix that has now become a critical point of failure.

Choosing a single ecosystem for your sales, marketing, service delivery, and financials, in which data is passed automatically, process flows are automated, and backup and recovery are handled for you at a multi-enterprise scale removes much of the resilience burden for at least two of the five areas Gartner lists above, process and infrastructure, giving you the opportunity to focus on the other three.

2. Think broadly and cross-functionally

Fixing, upgrading, or modernizing in just one area doesn’t really help in overall resilience.  If your financial systems and processes are made more resilient, without addressing the upstream and downstream processes such as sales or service delivery, congrats you’ve just put a shiny new bumper on a rusty car with a leaky transmission.

Think beyond individual or functional silos, and focus on modernizing core business processes such as “order to cash” or “sales to delivery” that span across your organization. Make sure you have a unified plan to address the issues across the entire process, and no, adding yet another spreadsheet or asking everyone “just work harder and communicate better” isn’t a plan.

3. Relentlessly monitor internal and external conditions

As the Analytics Evangelist at Certinia, my bias is to examine almost every issue from an analytics and reporting standpoint, and organizational resilience is no different.

“There are two sources of force putting pressure on the organization to be resilient: internal and external. Internal forces are those that are moving the organization to transform and deliver successful digital business initiatives.

The ‘Four Vs’ of digital business – volume, variety, velocity, and value – mean that the organizational footprint is expanding to new ways of doing business: new products and services delivered through new geographies, new processes, new partners/suppliers and more.

This exposes the organization to more opportunities, but also to new and additional risks.”

– Gartner

As Gartner states, for many of our customers, those “4 V’s” present both opportunities and risks.  Without strong, automated, trusted cross-functional analytics, it becomes increasingly difficult to determine the difference between the two.

No spreadsheet (or more likely collection of spreadsheets) can address the volume, variety, velocity, and value of those opportunities and risks, especially without a single, unified definition of foundational elements such as revenue, service costs, customer lifetime value, and utilization.

“The characteristics of a resilient organization are impossible to implement in a business environment focused on short-term benefits only. Investments must be made in time, people, and infrastructure redundancy at all phases of the organizational resilience life cycle in order to rebound and prosper after a business disruption.”

– Gartner

We agree with Gartner’s conclusion to the research note. I also recognize the task is significant. At Certinia, we look to partner with you to leverage the Salesforce ecosystem in an effort to make your efforts to add organizational resilience faster and easier.  Let us know your thoughts and how we can help.

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