For the most part, companies have automated business processes for tactical reasons and only in isolated cases up to now. There is a clear focus here on aspects such as reducing costs and streamlining processes. However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the automation of processes is also decisive in achieving strategic goals. The areas of focus are shifting, with the digital transformation of the entire company now increasingly prioritized. By implementing a holistic digitalization and automation strategy, organizations are now able to ensure their long-term success.
While the majority of companies have already taken the first step towards digital transformation, there remains significant room for improvement and untapped potential in terms of the business processes. Digitalization and automation within organizations are both still found wanting, leading to slow, error-prone, and inefficient workflows. Examples of this can be seen throughout everyday work, whether in the continuing distribution of Excel spreadsheets as part of a business process or when staff have to switch from one application to another as the IT systems are not connected to each other.
In order to pave the way for future success, digitalization and automation projects must be approached holistically and strategically, with the processes considered from beginning to end. An in-depth analysis can uncover untapped potential for optimization, determine automation possibilities, and find out which technologies are right for the job.
Robotic process automation (RPA) and low-code – only part of the puzzle
When it comes to process automation, companies have numerous technologies to choose from. However, it is not always clear which tool is best suited to which application, where individual tools reach their limits and how the different tools can be combined optimally. RPA, for example, can be used to automate standardized, repetitive processes that often used to require a lot of work. However, the focus here is on individual manual tasks and not on the process as a whole. RPA must thus be seen as part of the puzzle within the context of an in-depth end-to-end automation.
This is also the case with low-code. With the help of low-code support, technically versed staff are able to create simple to moderately difficult applications entirely using models. However, these applications only have limited use – low-code alone is not enough when it comes to automating critical business processes.
High demands for digital process automation (DPA) platforms
In order to fully benefit from the advantages of process automation, a practical combination of individual technologies is required. This can be realized with a digital process automation (DPA) platform, which is used as a central hub to ensure that the sequence and interplay of individual tasks works perfectly. Using the platform, companies can digitalize, automate and organize their processes. This also includes the harmonization of different technologies such as RPA, machine learning and artificial intelligence, plus the integration of third-party systems. A professional DPA platform must be able to deal with both simple workflows and highly demanding, dynamic processes, not to mention conditional logic and the use of artificial intelligence.
However, the demands that an automation platform has to meet are not limited to the organization itself. The various different technologies and systems must be integrated in such a way that their functionality is also ensured across company boundaries. Processes also have to be carried out flawlessly via interfaces to customers, suppliers, service providers and other third-party stakeholders.
Simple use even in highly complex processes
While the processes in the company itself are sometimes highly complex, the applications must be as intuitive and easy to understand as possible for the user. This is because user-friendliness has a significant impact on acceptance among the staff. The people who work with the application on a daily basis must be brought on board right from the outset. A comprehensive automation project can only be a success when both employees from the departments and the process engineers and developers are all on the same page and work together closely.
Another important factor in whether automation – and the company itself – is successful is customer satisfaction. To ensure an optimal customer experience, developers have to understand what a satisfied customer wants by finding the right balance between automated processes and personal service. For example, the complete automation of the check-in process at a hotel is not the right way forward. For an optimal customer experience, direct personal interaction with the hotel guest is required here to create a certain sense of closeness.
To ensure that automation projects are as successful as possible, establishing a Center of Excellence (CoE) is recommended in order to consolidate skills and knowledge. Given the necessary support by management, this forms the basis for a strategic approach and methodical implementation. Furthermore, data and empirical values from all departments are collected here and can be optimally analyzed. Once process automation is considered as a whole and implemented at every step of the way through a comprehensive strategy, companies are then able to master the digital transformation and ensure that they continue to flourish on the market.