Business Process Management (BPM) is now an integral part of organizations across the world. As we all know, it has become increasingly challenging for organizations to sustain growth without utilizing business process management practices / tools to align their processes effectively. BPM workflow solutions allow organizations to improve their process effectiveness and at the same time align their processes. This white paper aims to cover important aspects of Business Process Automation (BPA). It is intended for business executives, analysts and process owners responsible to improve the quality and efficiency of business operations.
Need for Process Automation
Business processes often evolve as manual undocumented procedures, but later turn complex enough to be managed without automation. As the business expands these processes turn out to be laborious and require constant maintenance. In order to mitigate these challenges, businesses must continually improvise their processes to align with changing business dynamics. In the current economic scenario most of the organizations are aware of the evolving concept of BPM and the wideranging benefits it offers. Some of the immediate benefits include automation, better visibility, and improved efficiency.
Although, organizations recognize the importance of BPM they are hesitant to implement these solutions for various reasons such as cost, time and effort. In today's rapidly changing business scenario, it is essential for an enterprise to take advantage of BPA. It is a concept that is helping organizations manage complex tasks efficiently with greater accuracy and faster execution time. Organizations may typically try out one of the three approaches to BPA:
a) Extending IT service management systems.
b) Implementing specialized Business Process Automation tool sets or
c) Creating automated process workflows on the back of a BPM implementation.
Business Process Automation is often considered as a subset of Business Process Management. BPM has been referred to as a “holistic” management approach that strives to promote efficiency at an enterprise-level, for the processes that matter the most to a business. In the example cited below, the process automation mainly focuses at a department level.
Both BPM and BPA are treated as major initiatives, whose complexity and scope limits its application to major or core business process workflows. Business enterprises have hundreds or even thousands of smaller process workflows, sometimes involving only a handful of individuals or single departments. Many of these workflows include several manual processes. The manual nature of these processes may result in costly errors, delays, and increased inefficiencies, which makes a good business case for workflow automation. However, enterprises believe that their processes are too small to justify the development effort and cost incurred for this activity.
The first step in implementing a fully automated workflow solution is to identify the bottlenecks in a process, which are present due to manual processing. If these bottlenecks are not addressed they start affecting the productivity of the process. There are three major factors that any enterprise will focus on while implementing process automation, these are: a) Enhance process efficiency and productivity. b) Ensure business compliance, security factors, and disaster alertness. c) Increase return on investments (ROI). To identify bottlenecks in the existing process, we can frame the following set of questions targeting the business executives, analysts and management teams. This helps us to find ways to improve the current process resulting in process optimization. Following are the questions specific to each business factor:
Enhancing efficiency and productivity
a) How many records or what is the size of data handled, while managing business process or workflow?
b) How many stages each record has to pass in the entire process and how it is being passed currently?
c) Where are the records (data) stored and which user types need access to these records? d) How is the tracking of the records (data) being managed?
Ensure compliance, security and disaster alertness
a) How secure are the records (data) in the current system?
b) What is the criticality / importance of the records (data) stored in files?
c) How can you retrieve the records / files lost in a disaster?
d) How expensive is it to implement control access / procedural controls of records (data)?
Increase ROI on IT investments
a) What is the size of the team that is working on the current business process?
b) What is the success rate (number) of records that are successfully updated based on a response from customer?
c) What is the average time spent by the operations team for closure of each customer record?
d) Is this data available in any existing software application?
e) How long does it take for records (data) to be updated onto the system?
f) Is the data manually re-entered?