COVID-19 has disrupted workflows and processes that are helping run organizations worldwide, and enterprises are turning to SaaS apps like Unito to create clarity out of the chaos.

“A lot of people working remotely have come to realize just how much their workflows relied on spontaneous or in-person conversations. As companies shifted remote because of COVID-19, they lost the desk-side chats, the lunchtime conversations, and the impromptu check-in meetings and then their workflows fell to pieces,” said Marc Boscher, chief executive officer of the Montreal-based workflow management solutions provider company Unito, in an interview with IT World Canada. “Once these gaps became obvious, people began working to address them. In a lot of cases, this meant filling the holes with Zoom calls, but many forward-thinking companies sought out solutions that would allow them to optimize their workflows for asynchronous work and remote work. And that’s where a lot of businesses, especially larger companies, turn to us.”

In the months after the pandemic began, Unito saw a 74 per cent increase in signups among users from companies with at least 10,000 employees.

“That’s because these big companies use a ton of tools and have extremely complex workflows. We help them adapt their workflows by connecting the tools required to complete them, accelerating their transition to remote work,” explained Boscher. 

There are many ways in which workflow management factors into the new psychology of the workplace. It helps align processes, work styles, goals, terminology, and people. It creates psychological safety by removing many of the stressors associated with “the new workplace,” he said. 

“Workflow management smooths out the hardest kind of collaboration in the workplace: cross-functional collaboration. Imagine I told you I’m assembling a project team who barely know each other, have different educations and skills, use different terminology to describe the same thing, are used to different processes, work styles and goals, and use completely different tools. What would you say are the chances they’ll collaborate smoothly, much less deliver the project successfully? Those are the conditions of collaboration when you cross the usual organizational structure. It’s really hard, but it’s also really important,” Boscher explained during an interview. 

A recent IBM study of global C-suite executives titled “COVID-19 and the Future of Businessindicates global executives are prioritizing more intelligent, secure and responsive workflows that are developed using a combination of technologies such as automation, AI and cybersecurity. 

Over the next two years, the study finds prioritization of AI technology will increase by 20 percentage points. Sixty per cent of executives surveyed have accelerated process automation, and many will apply more automation across all business functions, and 76 per cent of executives surveyed plan to prioritize cybersecurity. The study includes input from more than 3,800 C-suite executives in 20 countries and 22 industries. 

The majority of businesses are trying to make their remote work environment similar to their in-office environment. That’s a natural reaction — they are trying to recreate what they knew, what was comfortable, but Boscher says he thinks remote work requires a different approach. Psychologist Kristen Shockley said, “Companies should never just implement telecommuting without changing anything else. They also need to shift their culture and norms to support the new arrangement.” 

Founded in 2015, Unito was created to integrate disparate SaaS applications. “We could transmit data from one tool to another, replicate changes from one tool to another back and forth. It was also very focused on collaboration between teams, for example – the marketing teams working out of Trello or Asana or engineering teams working with tools like JIRA or GitHub,” explained Boscher. “But we discovered along the way that the problem was much more widespread and people, business users in particular, were trying to find a way to organize and visualize the way work was happening in the organization, and then optimize it.”

Using two-way integrations between tools including Trello, Asana, monday.com, Jira, Wrike, ClickUp, GitHub, GitLab, Bitbucket, Teamwork, Basecamp, Zendesk, and HubSpot, developers use the tools they want while offering managers greater visibility into and control over their work.

The company recently launched its new workflow management offering, which Boscher says is a visual way to discover where the work is happening in a team or an organization and in which tool it is happening, understand who’s working with who, and give the team of the organization the ability to automate some of that process workflow and accelerate it through integration.

Unito’s personal plans start at $10 per month for five active users and top out at $20 for 10 users. Companies with 40 to 150 active users will have to pay $250 per month up to $770, respectively. Unito has a 4.5 star rating on Gartner’s GetApp.com, an app discovery platform that compares SaaS products. Some of its bigger competitors in the workflow management arena include Boomi and HubSpot’s PieSync.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada