Of course, while a business process methodology without automation is possible, the gains available through automation should be ignored either. Business process automation multiplies the inherent benefits of the process methodology. As a corollary, you need to have a worthwhile business process to start with. Otherwise automating a process of little value still leaves you with little value afterwards. However, the first move has to be the selection of the business process methodology.
Improve your business process methodology if you want the full benefit of automation.
Where do We Start?
To be clear about where we're headed, let's first define a business process. At its simplest, it is just a description of the way work should be done. It describes the activities, whether they are accomplished at the same time or one after the other, and in this case in which order. A business process methodology lays down principles to be observed in carrying out these activities, different methodologies emphasizing different approaches. The surrounding actions of modeling, automating, monitoring and optimizing the process then make up business process management.
Types of Business Processes
Whether you can automate a business process depends on a number of factors: its complexity, its duration, and whether or not it is IT-driven are a few examples. The more repetitive and the more standardized it is, the more likely automation is to be beneficial. Conversely, unstructured and non-IT driven processes may be more difficult or even impossible to automate. How you automate it then depends on the business process methodology.
Picking a Business Process Methodology
For an existing process, the first steps are to identfiy the parts of the process that work well and the ones that need attention. This isn't just a time and motion exercise. User and employee feelings count as well: automating the less interesting parts while leaving the more fulfilling ones in the hand of human beings may be a smart solution too. Management and leadership requirements should also be assessed. Automation can often readily support management actions, whereas it is more of a challenge to do the same with leadership.
Examples: Lean, Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma
Streamling for efficiency and team working for effectivess are, respectively, defining features of 'Lean' and 'Six Sigma'. Lean business process methodology accentuates the elimination of wastage, which is defined as anything that does not contribute to enterprise goals. Six Sigma defines roles in order to build a team capable of solving company challenges and achieving defined quality standards. Lean Six Sigma combines both methodologies. Smaller organizations may see more value in lean operations, while larger organizations may find Six Sigma more appropriate. Correspondingly, Lean Six Sigma can be suitable for a range of enterprises from the smaller to the bigger.
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