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Why end to end Process Discovery is essential for de-risking Automation Investment

June 19, 2019 - Deepinder Dhuria Product Manager, EdgeVerve

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“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you are doing” – W. Edwards Deming

Process leaders across the sectors are deploying innovative products to digitize, re-design and automate the processes till its last mile. This provides them a platform to rapidly drive cost reduction while also improving quality and timings.

To ensure the efficient last mile re-design and automation of process, an end to end view of the enterprise process is essential. Traditionally, process leaders have relied on manually mapping the processes either on BPM or as an SOP, which can be biased. Moving from user to user and department to department, more than 70% of the enterprise processes do not follow the standard operating procedure. Processes keep going through a certain pattern over years and years thus becoming an inherent and unchangeable part of the organization. Companies do not realize the inefficiencies of such processes until an external force shakes the structure to ensure processes are re-designed.

Without clear knowledge of process, enabling tech based redesigns and automation haphazardly can not only lead to but also cause operational chaos. Process leaders may be able to create pointed solutions to tackle bucketed problems but without end to end process visibility investment will have little or no impact at scale.

For example: Process leader may be hearing about lot of operational inefficiencies in Finance department and based on initial analysis with few users, will be able to map, re-design and run automation on let’s say Invoice processing. However, problem arises when there are lot of other users that process Invoice with some variations like using different screen route within application or treat different items differently for invoicing. This is where the anticipated efficiency and return on investment will fall off, making the Process leader to back to drawing table and re-assess the processes.

To ensure process leaders are moving towards the path of success in their tech enabled process re-design and automation initiatives they must:

  • Develop an end to end process playbook – This will enable them with clear view of the processes from highest (enterprise) to the lowest (user action) level. End to end process playbook will help process leaders to understand the process path and variations at a detailed level.
  • Capture and analyze comprehensive list of process metrics – Process metrics and analytics will help process leaders to take a crucial decision of which processes to automate vs re-design, what are the bottlenecks and which process do not have quality.

The next big question now is – While process leaders need to ensure that they are getting visibility to process playbook but can technology enable them?

Future of Process Re-design & Automation

Advancement in technology especially AI and Machine learning with improved data capture and human intelligence, has now created a new set of opportunities. Process leaders can now leverage AI based algorithm to give them a guided understanding of which processes to focus and which user tasks to automate. Enters Automated Process Discovery – mining the processes and discovering the tasks. Automated process discovery as per Gartner – is a complementary approach to create business process model at a fraction of time and cost. It fills the process knowledge gap that exists between departments and functions.

Automated Process Discovery can be divided into two key areas:

  • Process Mining
  • Task Discovery

Process Mining: It can use logs from various enterprise systems to automatically generate business process as they are happening in the enterprise. For e.g. Process mining can automatically map out for what items Finance department is matching PO to Invoice and for items it is processing invoice without any match. It can give you metrics like lead time, cycle time etc.

Task Discovery: It uses AI to automatically identify user level actions for each process. It monitors the key strokes, click stream actions performed by the user in his/her system to complete a task that is related to a process. It captures all the task variation and then automatically generates the task map. Task maps can enable the process leader to precisely look at automation candidates that can provide high business value as well as are technically feasibility. Task discovery also provides important data analytics – like time to complete, variation percentages, # of clicks, copy/paste etc. For e.g. Task discovery can automatically map multiple application, steps and variations users are taking to do PO to Invoice matching in their Finance department.

Both Process mining and Task Discovery can act individually, however the Process discovery journey of Process mining and Task Discovery working in tandem can become the holy grail for Process Leader. It can help them to continuously monitor the process patterns, user task variation, provide mission critical metrics and create a comprehensive playbook.

Revisiting the example, we discussed above: Process leaders upon hearing about a lot of operational inefficiencies in Finance department can plug process discovery to create a playbook of each and every process route, tasks within that process and key metrics thus capturing highest level to bits and bytes of information. The playbook will enable them to identify Invoice processing as the key area of focus with all its issues like -invoices are getting processed without an approval on critical items and that approximately 80% of users use 5 screen toggles and 1000s of clicks in application to create an invoice as compared to 20% using just 2 screen toggles and 100s of clicks.

This comprehensive playbook, playing real time processes and metrics, can act as a reference point for any re-design and automation opportunities in future. Process leaders thus need to take the charge and ensure such real time end to end process discovery in order to make their investments count with high impact at scale.

Deepinder Dhuria

Product Manager, EdgeVerve

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