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Business Process Automation Featured Article

June 23, 2010

Five Considerations for Business Process Automation

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Business process automation solutions provider Interactive Intelligence recently released a useful white paper titled "Top 5 Considerations for Automating Key Business Processes." Here's a re-cap of the white paper's main points:

Align With Business Objectives: It is not uncommon for organizations go through an extensive technology selection process before finalizing the goals they would like (or need) to achieve with business process automation, the paper notes, adding that ideally, however, "any BPA initiative should be driven by well-defined business objectives."

High-level objectives may focus exclusively on cost reduction or cost containment objectives, or, under the right circumstances, on increasing revenue generating potential: "It's worth noting that cost and revenue objectives may not necessarily be mutually exclusive."

Get the Right People Involved: A successful path to BPA requires involving multiple internal stakeholders, particularly where a process traverses multiple departments. In many organizations, process improvement efforts work best when they are "a business-driven initiative with IT support," according to Clay Richardson, a senior analyst at Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Forrester Research (News - Alert).

Ideally, a business process automation initiative will have an executive sponsor to provide direction in situations where IT and the process business owner may have different perspectives.

Identify the Right Process for Automation: Business processes are the means by which companies (and people) get work done. The term "automation" often conjures up images of manufacturing operations, or back-office transaction processing, where process automation has been applied with great success over the years and has transformed the way companies do business.

"One study of idle versus processing time for work-in-process revealed that, for the average process, actual working time comprises only .05 percent to 5 percent of total elapsed time," say the white paper's authors, citing a recent study.

Start Small And Grow: Demonstrable results matter. Look for BPA opportunities that allow you to start small, expand and continuously improve. (Or as is commonly heard in such projects: "start small, think big, scale fast.") Because BPA can have such a significant impact on process efficiencies, organizations may opt to initiate BPA implementations that focus on a mission-critical business process in its entirety.

The trade-off is that the more complex the process, the more complex, costly and time-consuming the implementation. It becomes a question of whether to realize ROI in one or two quarters... or potentially two to three years. 

Select The Right Technology: Despite the high interest and tangible benefits from automating core business processes, barriers remain that prevent many companies from implementing business process automation.

A business process automation solution should support all the other key considerations discussed thus far, providing demonstrable ways to meet business objectives, offering ease-of-use for business and IT collaborators and end users participating in the process, and providing an environment that supports the automation of people-centric processes with near-term ROI.

To download a free copy of this informative white paper, click here.

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David's articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Patrick Barnard



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