Organizations everywhere are facing disruption. We’ve entered full steam into the age of the customer; growing expectations, new digital capabilities and increasing demands from employees to have more flexibility in how they work require major changes in how enterprises run their businesses. The disruption for IT is great, but there are ways you can move forward without throwing away everything you’ve built so far.
In today’s world, business transformation is digital transformation, and while technology may not be the principal driver of transformation, it plays a crucial role. This is why the role of Enterprise Architect is so critical to understanding and enabling business transformation.
Under the Hood of Process Automation
Gartner defines business process automation as
“…the automation of complex business processes and functions beyond conventional data manipulation and record-keeping activities, usually through the use of advanced technologies.”
Simply stated, it is the automating of activities within business processes that are routine and repeatable, and don’t require human intervention. This is sometimes called robotic process automation, or RPA. Through the automation of these routine activities, enterprises gain efficiencies and cost savings.
But this is only one component of the value process automation brings to business transformation.
Traditional approaches to BPM and process automation focused on creating standard automated workflows, but process automation also brings additional benefits to the organization. It can:
- Increase data centricity by connecting the internal and external applications and information necessary for employees to efficiently and effectively support customers.
- Serve as a starting point for incorporating new business practices, compliance rules, and other business regulations, as well as new technology.
- Increase and speed up collaboration among employees, partners, and other associates both within the office and on the road.
- Improve process visibility and traceability, supporting continuous improvement.
A few examples of process automation include automating the onboarding of employees, customers and vendors; customer and employee self service; sending out automated notifications to employees involved with high risk financial transactions and regular reporting to executives.
Reimagining Process Automation
Traditional process automation is focused on eliminating variation and driving internal improvements often through the automating of as many tasks as possible. It took an inside-out approach that identified how the process needed to work to support the business itself.
Today, Gartner says that process automation focuses on providing “freedom within a box.” It requires enterprises to rethink their idea of “process,” moving it from a back office management tool to the front office where employees have the ability to dynamically adjust how a process, and its activities operate to meet the current situation. The focus now shifts from inside-out to outside-in and supporting the needs of the customer.
“The dynamics of digital business necessitate an enterprise’s most adaptable resource — its people — to easily consume systematized capabilities and the best information available in the moment to dynamically orchestrate their interactions with peers, customers, partners and so on. Process becomes less about automation and more about the dynamic orchestration of human, machine and information resource interactions to deliver an optimal outcome.” (Gartner page 7)
One way we see this evolution happening is in the creation of process-driven applications. Case management is an example of process automation that includes both automated and flexible, agile activities that adapt to the current situation and customer.
Incident management is a perfect example for this kind of automation. Identifying the existence of an issue is usually a very structured entry point, and the closure of the problem is also very well defined. But what happens in the middle is much more complex to envision and thereby harder to model in advance.
Find out why Everteam ranks as one of the top 20 BPMs in 2017.
All this unpredicted activity leaves trails and results that will coexists with the information received from the pre-envisioned activities. Choosing to automate this process with the right platform should not be a decision between visibility and flexibility.
Introducing process automation into your enterprise doesn’t mean you have to abandon existing IT investments. Smart enterprise architect’s know that the best process automation strategy includes the right combination of people, processes, and technology. That right combination considers many factors such as current IT investments, integrations with internal and external systems as well as how and with whom employees need to collaborate to get their work done.
Process automation is not just about cost-savings. It’s about delivering long-term value through the consistent and efficient operation of business. It empowers IT to support the definition, automation, and integration of processes the best way possible.