Is your organization suffering from automation overload? It’s all too easy for sprawling digital processes to create chaos and inefficiencies – two of the exact things that automation is aimed at avoiding in the first place. And the only way to prevent this is by understanding business processes properly before you start. Let’s explore what that means and how to achieve it.
Why understanding should always be the first step
Business process automation (BPA) offers huge benefits to all kinds of organizations across a wide range of use cases. Once you start finding ways to automate processes, the sky’s the limit. However, if employees throughout your business start implementing it but you don’t manage your processes properly, two things will occur:
- Your automated processes won’t be as efficient or effective as they should be
- You won’t be able to achieve good enough governance or oversight
There’s an old adage that applies to process automation: “Measure twice, cut once”. Unless you take the time to properly understand your business processes before attempting to automate them, you won’t know what successful automation looks like. And if you don’t fully understand the aims of automating that process, the more likely it is that you’ll have to revisit them later and make changes or re-engineer it all together.
What’s more, not all processes are suitable for automation in the first place. Taking the time and properly understanding business processes is the only way to see if you will or won’t benefit from automating them.
Finding the “sweet spot” for automation
In his webinar The Real Truth About RPA, Forrester Research VP and Principal Analyst, Craig Le Clair sets out three questions to ask when determining if you should automate a business process, which he terms the “rule of five”:
- Are less than five human decisions made during the process?
- Do less than five applications need to be accessed?
- Does the process require less than 500 clicks to be performed?
If the process meets these criteria, and automating it is also valuable in terms of saving time and effort for users, it hits the “sweet spot” for business process automation. If your process ticks all these boxes, it doesn’t have too much complexity or require too much human intervention to be worth automating.
Making these kinds of decisions means understanding business processes in the right degree of depth. And that means first understanding business process management – the art of business process analysis and development.
What is business process management?
As a discipline, business process management spans all the ways in which you document, analyze, and improve the processes your organization uses in its operations. In the old days, this would be achieved with pencils and paper or with printed documents – mapping out your business processes meticulously (and laboriously) by hand.
Today, digital solutions make process mapping and management much simpler and easier, but the same core principles still apply. At the heart of process management should be the pursuit of process excellence: an ongoing dedication to ensuring your processes are as well-constructed and practiced as possible. Your business processes are a garden to be constantly tended. The problem is, that can be quite a task.
The challenges of process management today
Unlike back in the days of paper process charts, today’s business processes are often sprawling affairs that involve multiple users, sometimes across different departments, offices, or even regions. It’s not always easy to gain full visibility over who is doing what and when.
Let loose in an environment like this, where processes often grow wild like weeds, business process automation can become a part of the problem rather than the solution. This is how automation overload occurs.
A lack of understanding of business process management, as well as not practicing it rigorously enough, results in a mess. Processes automated sub-optimally, the same processes automated multiple times in error with variations, and processes being automated that shouldn’t be in the first place. Process management is the vanguard that stands in the way of this sort of chaos.
Nintex Promapp® and understanding business processes better
To prevent automation overload and process chaos, you need visibility and control over all the process automation in your organization to see what’s going on and ensure it’s working as well as it possibly can. Furthermore, all employees need to know about and understand the processes they’ll use. That ensures that best practices are maintained and processes are working as effectively as possible.
With Nintex Promapp®, you can easily map out and manage your business processes, achieving complete control and visibility. Once you’ve mapped your business processes, you can optimize and standardize them across your entire organization. And, with all automations integrated into your new digital workflows, they’re easily visible and able to be monitored and tweaked whenever necessary.
We want to help organizations everywhere start really understanding business processes and making the most of automation. Try Nintex for yourself and you’ll see what that really means.