It is optimized – or better: entirely new – business processes, that make up the digital transformation. Process automation plays a key role in this context. In my last blog post, I used the example of Campana & Schott’s internal Chatbot to demonstrate a possible automation scenario. I would like to pick up on that example and outline a process for the successful automation of processes using bots.
1. Not flying blindly
Where do I start? To ensure the target-oriented automation of processes, you must first choose from many candidates. Simple and rather non-critical processes are particularly well suited for the initial phase. Small, isolated administration processes, such as room bookings or registrations, for example. If there is not enough know-how about the new bot technologies, you can organize a hackathon with internal employees and external partners. Typically, this process results in an initial prototype that is already in operation at the end of this phase. Once you have accumulated additional experience in the company, you can define the next key indicators to differentiate: Which processes are edited by how many users and how frequently? What are the processing times? How many manual steps are required for the relevant process at this time? These KPIs help to classify the processes that must now be gradually automated.
2. Orchestration through intelligent software
An investment in a suitable platform for Robotic Process Automation (RPA) makes sense in environments where a particularly large number – around 50 or more – of processes must be automated with bots. This platform supports the faster implementation, administration, management and monitoring of automated processes in one location. The relevant RPA platforms are evaluated and selected based on a sourcing project. If in doubt, concentrate on standard platforms such as Blue Prism or the new options offered by Microsoft.
3. A large number of processes requires a program structure
Many times, there are a multitude of processes that must be automated or transformed. This creates a need for a separate program structure. Wave Planning is the right solution for implementation purposes, as the various process automations are administered in so-called “waves”. In this way, complex objectives can be divided into manageable sub-sections. In the suggested agile implementation process, a well-maintained backlog that includes the processes that are to be transformed makes it possible to react to or re-prioritize new situations. It is especially required in cases where the implementation of a solution has hit a snag or the resources in a particular department have been stretched to the limit. Comprehensive discover phases, as are offered by the DARE model, deliver the corresponding input for the backlog. The backlog is thematically organized into areas such as “Help systems for new IT applications”, “Support for finance processes” or “Bots for customer service processes”.
4. Optimization and agile balancing with scarce resources
Where resources have become tight, we recommend that processes are initially automated on an “as is” basis and are only optimized afterwards. The advantage: This approach requires fewer resources at the beginning, and employees who are in particularly high demand, such as process analysts, are not needed at this stage. Once the (old) processes have been automated or digitized, it becomes much easier to improve them later on.
5. Success factor Competence Center
Finally, some advice regarding the organizational structure: Our experience has shown that it’s worth to adapt rather small-scale responsibilities between business partner, architect and developer and combine them into e.g. a Competence Center for Business Process Automation. This Competence Center acts as the interface between IT and the business, supplies faster solutions and ensures the required environment for Strategy & Governance. The location of such a Competence Center in the company's overall structure is not of crucial importance in the beginning. At that stage, the Competence Center could even be staffed externally and then integrated into the organization subsequent.