As a long time process practitioner, I look at technology enablement through a process perspective. Organizations across all sectors are inundated with many core systems critical to running their operations. People perform their daily work duties often compensating for the difficulties these many systems and organizational boundaries produce.
Process technology is not just about a rip-and-replace of these core systems; it’s more about reducing the noise between these systems and organizational boundaries that impedes progress
How do we navigate the plethora of technology solutions available?
Follow me as I break down the process technology solutions into what I see as 5 pillars of technology.
We focus not only on the customer; but the employee experience as well.
Your employees are the conduit to a great customer experience.
- Is your staff equipped with the tools they need to support your customers?
- Do they have the data they need, when they need it to solve the problem?
- Are they empowered to organize their work to make the most of their day?
When defining the user touch points, it is critical to address the People-Part-of-Process. A process has many steps and lots of data elements flowing through those steps. We focus on delivering the right data at the right time to enable the most efficient actions at each participant waypoint.
Do you need a Single Pain of Glass experience, bringing multiple systems and actions together seamlessly? Or do you want limited decisions at each step, coaching a user through their task?
Do you desire a push-work model to pre-assign and “stack” work for your users; or do you prefer a pull-work model; in which users receive the next-best task as needed?
Automating work load management and task distribution is often a cost-effective way to eliminate waste and improve response times; but only when tied to the correct process drivers and desired user experience in order to deliver better business outcomes.
Business Process Management Suites
Fit-for-Purpose solutions to support the Enterprise.
Business Process Management Suites (BPMS) bring your process diagrams to life. Using Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN), modern BPMS software not only allows us to visualize a business process flow, to include people, systems, and workflow steps; but also provides the engine to manage the execution, data flow, and workflow steps along the way.
Utilizing a standard notation model (BPMN), not only for design but in technical implementation and execution as well, business leaders and technology teams can collaborate on the same vision of truth for the process. Too often, the desired outcome is lost in translation from concept to delivery; but working together with a shared model both sides can define, execute, and continuously improve operational efficiency.
- Modeling Notation Standards
- Process Visualization
- Collaborative Asset Management
- Systems Integration
- Basic Rules
- Business Event Automation
Covering a variety of process needs through state management, business event processing, prescriptive workflow design, and adhoc case management patterns, these software platforms are often at the core of process improvement and business transformation initiatives; providing the stability, consistency, and flexibility to keep your process improvements running.
Business Rules Management Systems
Bringing order to decision making.
Modern BPMS platforms include basic business rule management, some more complex than others. Decision gateways, if-then-else, switch-gates to multiple paths, split and merge features are common. However, some business processes require a great deal of variability and governance on a large set of business rules rendering traditional flow mapping difficult to manage.
A Business Rules Management System (BRMS) helps bring order to this chaos and the visibility and change control required to manage mission critical decision points.
- Do your business rules change often and independent of your process?
- Do you require different versions of a given rule and change governance?
- Do your rules have federated ownership outside of the process design?
Though not required, BRMS solutions are often coupled with a BPMS platform to provide the management and flexibility of a complex process across the enterprise.
Robotic Process Automation
Bridging the gap between people and technology
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solutions are on the rise and solving tactical process problems. This technology uses software robots to mimic human behavior, think key-board strokes and mouse-clicks, on application interfaces to perform repetitive, prescriptive, oft mundane job functions we use humans to do today.
- Is your staff performing copy/paste functions from one system to another?
- Are compliance and reporting functions bogging down your staff dealing with disconnected or legacy siloed application interfaces?
- Are you throwing people at a task simply for lack of fully integrated solutions?
The technologist in me would prefer to solve these problems with system-to-system communication, improved Application Program Interfaces (API), leveraging for example the system integration capabilities of a robust BPMS. However, facing the challenges of the ever-increasing pace of business today, we don’t always have the resources or time to solve these system integration problems with traditional architectural patterns.
With RPA, we can take a tactical approach to addressing user pain-points in a business process and free those workers to perform other, more meaningful knowledge-add process work. Often while increasing speed and accuracy along the way with 24/7 execution and eliminating the human error element.
Data and Analytics
You can’t improve what you can’t measure
Perhaps more of a discipline to some versus a technology, I call this out separately to high-light the criticality of data and metrics for process improvement. Putting metrics at the forefront of your process conversations helps define the success by which you will measure the business outcomes.
- Key Process Indicators
- Process Monitoring
- Service Level Agreements
- Actionable Business Insights
By leveraging the data capture in a BPMS, metrics through a service layer architecture, or even more complex Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) solutions designed for process data capture and visualization explicitly, we seek to align process metrics with business outcomes in order to target the correct process improvement areas; not just what we think needs improvement.
I’ve been involved in process improvement projects where we used a BPMS platform to simply listen to business events in phase one in order to “light-up” the business process providing critical visibility to core business functions in a way never before seen. This first step allowed the business leaders to gain ownership of the process and collaborate with the technology team to build a road-map of process improvement initiatives with well-defined success factors aligned to corporate goals.
As briefly described here, there are many technological approaches to process problems, but one must first see the forest for the trees.
A disciplined approach to process improvement, collaborating with process owners and technologists, working together with shared goals aligned to business outcomes, produces the greatest results. We can apply process automation technology, from the complex to the simple, and gain real business value, but automating a bad process just gets bad results faster.
While any one of these pillars of technology can provide immense value, combining these enabling technologies helps build a process capability foundation to support your transformation initiatives; today and well into the future.
As process excellence practitioners, we use a process-first methodology while leveraging technology to connect the dots between People, Process, Technology and Design.
Contact Us to see how we can help you make sense of it all.