Remote work in today’s challenging social and economic conditions is forcing organizations to evolve, do more with less, and accelerate digital business automation. Unfortunately, many companies struggle to realize plans for creating compelling digital experiences for their customers, partners, and employees. In fact, McKinsey & Company’s 2018 survey found that only 16% of digital transformation projects improved near-term performance and yielded sustainable, long-term change — with the rest falling well short of these goals.
What can be done to ensure digital transformation efforts are more successful? The proliferation of SaaS business solutions has created a patchwork of disconnected systems, with fragmented processes that are difficult to connect, streamline, and govern. This “IT sprawl” has resulted from disconnects between historical in-house IT governance paradigms and more modern microservices-based business solutions and systems.
To accelerate digital transformation success — and ensure higher impact business process automation — companies need to tame this sprawl. They need to focus on new forms of process platforms and governance that improve the partnership between IT, operations, and department and line-of-business managers. This effort will drive better alignment, collaboration, and on-going system and process flexibility to quickly address evolving business needs.
To accomplish these goals, your organization should take a page from Big Tech’s playbook and adopt what is known as a process automation and platform governance approach.
A new vision for IT
Under modern process automation and platform governance models, IT helps administer a broad set of modular platforms, each with its own set of specific business goals. A central governing group — usually a process Center of Excellence (CoE) — helps select and administer the various platforms, ensuring their alignment with relevant business teams. The CoE also provides access and support to process professionals, analysts, and power users by leveraging an underlying interoperable process platform to create digital business workflows between the modular systems for the work accomplished by various stakeholders.
This structure creates an empowered environment where digital innovation is available to most everyone, helping bring better ways of doing business to market much more quickly than relying on centralized developers to develop completely new software. Successful Big Tech companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Alphabet have used this CoE-administered platform approach for years to scale up new digital initiatives with lightning-fast speed.
Now, all organizations can implement similar models, thanks to technological advances that make it easy to create process automation and govern an interoperable process platform. Modern SaaS solutions architectures and low-code process automation platforms make it easier than ever for IT, operations, and department staff to visually map existing processes, optimize them and implement digital automation without requiring software coding skills by offering easy-to-use drag and drop visual configuration and design tools.
Many companies that have struggled with digital transformation in the past have found that using a centralized process platform dramatically streamlines and accelerates the pace at which they can achieve their top automation goals. They have also found that creating a process CoE to help govern and provide process platform access across their company has helped deliver bottom-up automation of hundreds or thousands of processes a year, accelerating the breadth of innovation delivered to keep up with and ahead of their competitors.
The process platform approach to automation
Adopting the right technology is only part of the equation. Digital transformation also means evolving your digital culture and transforming how employees work together. The transition to a platform approach is no exception.
Here are several steps your company can take to align with this new way of thinking and start seeing measurable improvements in your pace of digital automation transformation.
- Map your processes. To effectively automate processes, you need to understand how things work today — and which areas are most painful. Use easily accessible and collaborative process design tools to map the current state processes and open them up to feedback from across the company, including from front-line employees who feel the pain of what’s not working well in how the process runs today.
- Centralize process governance. Confusion over strategic priorities often holds automation initiatives back. Foster closer communication and better alignment between business/functional managers, operations and IT by embracing a CoE model. Modular teams coordinated through a central authority will set the stage to more effectively deliver innovation against your company’s most important business goals.
- Build an automation road map. Using your new process maps, begin brainstorming how to optimize your most painful processes to make them easier to administer, complete, and continually improve as your business evolves. IT and operations staff should work closely with business staff to prioritize any resulting automation projects.
- Choose the best automation technologies. To ensure success, you should select the best types of automation, which include digital forms, workflows, robotic process automation (for repetitive analytical work), digital approvals, eSignatures, digital document generation, storage, and retention. Select an easy-to-use but powerful automation platform that offers a complete set of automation technologies, which will help tailor your approach to the specific needs of each process you automate.
- Continuously monitor and optimize. The automation journey doesn’t stop with process automation implementation. Your automation platform should include tracking and reporting functionality that provides visibility into each automated process’ performance. Based on that information, you can continuously refine and optimize automated processes to maximize business results.
A more streamlined future
Digital transformation success has been challenging in the past, but today we have process automation platforms and governance approaches that make it much easier to convert change initiatives into lasting success. Equipped with a process platform mindset and governance approach, you can implement sophisticated end-to-end process automation that streamlines workflows, accelerates innovation, and drives meaningful business results.
Explore how your organization can benefit by putting a process platform approach and governance model into practice by downloading the Nintex strategy paper, Process Automation & Platform Governance.