You don’t have to look too far into the enterprise to understand why process automation is so important to business today.
1. Modernization of Legacy Systems
Most enterprises have a number of legacy systems in house. Some are custom coded applications, and others are complex mainframe systems. In many cases, these legacy applications support critical business activities.
Most of these systems can’t be easily replaced, either due to their use in the business or to the cost of replacement. However, their continued use challenges the enterprise architect’s ability to help the enterprise respond to changing business priorities quickly.
The amount of time and budget IT expends maintaining and supporting these legacy systems could be better spent elsewhere. IT resources are also frustrated because the time required to support legacy systems keeps them from working with innovative technologies that grow their skillsets.
Modernizing legacy systems through “wrapping” them with an agile process layer and migrating the data to a less expensive records management platform takes a great burden off IT. It enables the Enterprise Architect to shift their attention and efforts to new digital technologies such as mobile, cloud and Big Data, lowers risk to the organization and results in a more cost-effective IT environment. This is where process automation can help.
Process automation is important to helping IT onboard new technologies. It can support the migration of records and information to less costly technologies. It can support the creation of processes that integrate existing systems and new systems, and it can enable employees to adopt new approaches to working, but still retain access to systems that contain key information.
Some customers approach modernization through process automation as a mechanism to provide more activity focused interfaces that leverage information available in different sources.
To achieve agility, customers will find operational performance increases if their workers collaborate in the context of “enabling service X for customer Y” rather than performing different transactions in their ERP, CRM and core systems. Process automation allows the operation to focus on business outcomes rather than putting together the support pieces.
Other customers see modernization in providing completely new interfaces. Through process automation, customer facing transactions can be exposed to be consumed by a highly efficient tailored user interface. For example, an insurance company could provide a mobile website to allow customers to configure and quote their policies. All the rules, calculations and support transactions to enable such mobile experience are orchestrated by a process.
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2. Rigidity of Core Systems
Working with core systems that often exist in black boxes cause particular changes. There is little to no visibility into how these systems work, the ability to change them as business needs change is difficult and time-intensive, and there’s often a lot of replication of data across systems that is not always in sync.
Today’s systems need to support cross-organization collaboration as enterprise’s work to focus on the constantly changing demands of customers. Employees need the flexibility to change the way business processes work, empowering them to adapt to changing market conditions, new partners, and new compliance requirements.
Through the implementation of business process automation, IT can help create processes that automate routine, repetitive tasks, yet allow for the flexibility required to alter processes as needed. At the same time, the enterprise architect can help ensure that these processes are well governed and adhere to compliance rules and regulations.
Most organizations have dozens of processes that look like this: Receive an email. Get data from an application X. Copy information in a network available spreadsheet. Generate word document. Update system Y; etc…
These kind of processes are expensive, people dependant, error prone and huge bottlenecks to achieve strategic business objectives. Through automation, the actual human intervention could be reduced to a check to see if things are working as expected and the capacity to intervene if something is off the rails or extra activities are needed for any special case.