Why Automation Success Hinges on Effective Process Discovery


For enterprise leaders looking to truly embrace digital technologies, a robust process discovery platform is the only way to kickstart automation.

Many enterprises today face a major challenge because of the number and variety of processes they use to run their businesses. Modern organizations have turned to a complex, borderless web of intricate operations, and they use a multitude of processes to run their business functions. In an ideal setting, these processes are repetitive, have few (if any) variations, and create highly predictable results. And in many cases, organizations rely on automation.

The on-the-ground reality, though, is very different. For decades, organizational processes have evolved and undergone minor variations with every new team, business unit, or geography they run in. And if these processes don’t run like a well-oiled machine, the people running them use their domain expertise to make minor adjustments and get the outcomes they want. It works, usually, and the consensus often is, “why fix what’s not broken?”

Inconsistent processes are killing your automation program

Over time, as organizations adopt automation to manage these processes, they realize something important:  Inconsistency in these processes makes them difficult to automate. Recently, a global beverage company faced a similar problem. Its collection, settlement, and billing operations were running in over 20 countries. Every country ran the process differently, and most of these variations were undocumented. The teams at each site just knew what they had to do. Unfortunately, over-dependence on manual interventions limited the company’s visibility into the process and significantly increased the cost of operations. It really needed to automate, but it didn’t have a standard process to train the bots on.    

This beverage company is not alone in process-related automation challenges. Studies show that a well-implemented robotic process automation (RPA) program can deliver a return on investment within 12 months, yet only 3% of organizations have scaled their digital workforce. Many organizations fail to unlock the true potential of automation because they are deploying bots on sub-optimal processes. In the world of intelligent automation, most deployments that fail do so because of poor process selection, inaccurate process mapping, and incomplete automation implementation.

So, the first step for any successful automation program is process discovery – figuring out what exactly is happening with your processes, deciding what are the right candidates for automation, and determining where you need to first relook at the process itself. But that is easier said than done.

See also: A Key Factor Your DevOps is Missing: Process Discovery

The pitfalls inherent to process discovery     

A solid process discovery program means acquiring process and task-level information from devices across the enterprise and using this data to create a robust process map. If conducted manually, process mapping is a mammoth task. In addition, mapping processes manually can lead to several challenges. For instance, interviewees may be reluctant to share information about jury-rigged processes or may forget specific process variations. Language barriers across geographies can also severely limit the team’s capacity to manually identify process variations. These factors increase the likelihood of investigators missing key data on process performance, stability, failure rates, and business impact.

For the aforementioned beverage company, an automated process discovery platform proved to be the ultimate solution. By utilizing this tool, the company was able to generate nearly 3,500 automated recordings, which effectively mapped out 90% of its processes and task flows with remarkable accuracy. Based on this data, the platform identified 300 different process variations and created an end-to-end automation blueprint. The impact of this solution was profound, with the company saving over $1 million annually and an estimated 65,000 person-hours.

In today’s fast-paced business environment, this tool offers businesses an opportunity to enhance their growth, innovation, and operational efficiency while remaining competitive. However, this tool’s effectiveness relies entirely on the quality of the data. Inadequate details or data errors can compromise the results obtained. On the other hand, high-quality data can lead to significant cost savings and a willingness to invest in further improvements. In light of customers’ increasingly high expectations and organizations’ growing demands for efficient business processes, it is imperative for companies to adopt automated process discovery platforms.

Continuous discovery will build the future of automation

For enterprise leaders looking to truly embrace digital technologies, a robust process discovery platform is the only way to kickstart automation. The discovery journey is key to defining an automation roadmap for cost-effectiveness, data-driven decision making, and accelerated operational efficiency.

Leveraging AI to create a continuous process discovery loop means organizations can re-tool and re-engineer automated processes based on real-time data. The result is that organizational resources are deployed more efficiently, customer experiences can quickly evolve, and the enterprise’s market performance can be significantly boosted.

Sateesh Seetharamiah

About Sateesh Seetharamiah

Sateesh Seetharamiah is the CEO of Edge Platforms, EdgeVerve Systems Limited (An Infosys Company), and a board member and Whole-time Director at EdgeVerve. Sateesh is an industry veteran with three decades of rich experience in entrepreneurship, management consulting, IT leadership, and supply chain. Sateesh believes in AI and Automation’s immense potential in transforming future enterprises. With deep-rooted experience in the supply chain, he pioneered the Internet of Things (IoT) in its early days. Sateesh is one of the founding members of EdgeVerve and comes with rich experience in the product and platforms domain. Being a passionate technologist, Sateesh has been instrumental in establishing many foundational technology capabilities that drive today’s EdgeVerve strategy. In addition, he has been on the board of various start-up firms in the IoT and pervasive computing space.

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