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Five steps for identifying processes with the potential for automation

Digital Process Automation Digitalization Trends
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Benedikt Diekhans
by Benedikt Diekhans

In order to remain competitive in the digital age, companies have to automate and digitalize their business processes. To do this, they first have to analyze their internal workflows and identify where there is potential for optimization. One way of doing this is the Process Potential Analysis (PPA). In five steps, this analysis helps companies to gain a quick overview of all processes, identifies exactly the processes that are most suited to automation, and provides a rough concept and calculation of the return on investment (ROI).

Efficient business processes are decisive in whether a company is successful. With the help of automation and digitalization, manual processes can be executed better, quicker, and in a more streamlined way. However, many companies have no idea where to begin when it comes to identifying these processes. The PPA is an ideal way of finding out which business processes are eating up too much time and money. The analysis not only identifies potential optimizations but also lays the foundation for further automation of the processes.

 

The PPA step by step

In the first step of the PPA, the goal is to gain an overview of existing processes, such as core, support, and management processes. The resulting process map is then used to determine which processes can and should be automated within a company. Cross-company, time-critical processes that can be standardized, have a high repetition rate, and involve many interfaces and participants are particularly suited to automation. Among others, these processes include dealing with inquiries, complaints management, customer service, and quality control. A process portfolio is created at the end of this first step, which is then used as a basis for further analysis.

 

axonivy-website-content-graphics-en-process-landscapeFrom the process map to the project plan.

Influencing factors in the assessment: CSF, TSF, and SF

In steps two to four, the selected processes are analyzed in more detail with regard to different factors. These are critical success factors (CSF), technical success factors (TSF), and soft factors (SF).


CSFs include:

  • Budget
  • Resources
  • Complexity
  • Involvement of customers or users


TSFs are used to check whether the processes are suitable for a digital process automation platform. These include:

  • Characteristics of the IT landscape
  • Existing process and IT standards
  • Processing speed
  • Traceability of the processes


Finally, SFs are also taken into consideration:

  • Availability of resources
  • Acceptance among the corporate divisions and IT
  • Identification of possible weak points


The factors are first weighted before their impact on the processes is assessed on a scale of 0 (no impact) to 5 (very large impact). Weighted figures can then be calculated for each process depending on the CSFs, TSFs, and SFs and transferred to a 3D matrix. The X-axis represents the contribution to business success (CSF), while the Y-axis represents the technical feasibility (TSF). The size of the bubbles reflects the soft factors (SF). By using this matrix, it is immediately clear which processes best meet the requirements in terms of their success factors and should thus be prioritized during automation.

Example of a prioritization matrix for automation.Example of a prioritization matrix for automation.

 

ROI calculation: is automation worth the effort?

After the order of processes to be automated has been defined, the fifth step involves the calculation of the ROI. Here, it is determined whether the automation of the prioritized processes will ultimately pay off. To do this, the current state is first analyzed before defining a target model following automation. Among other things, points such as time savings, required services, and necessary investments are taken into account. A precise calculation of the ROI is then made based on these aspects.

 

Advantages of a PPA

Thanks to the PPA, companies gain a quick and transparent overview of their processes and their value creation. In addition, they get insights about optimization potential, changes in the case of process automation, and an assessment of the required functional scope of the BPM system to be used. However, a PPA can do much more than simply identifying and prioritizing processes that can be optimized. Through the detailed analysis, both general business and special project risks associated with process automation can be identified and minimized. With the ROI calculation, companies also receive a concrete breakdown of all necessary investments in advance of a possible automation project.

 

Moreover, the close collaboration with all stakeholders and those involved in the process ensures acceptance of the possible new workflows among the staff. Companies who decide on a PPA in cooperation with Axon Ivy also benefit from the exchange of knowledge on the job and are given the opportunity of constructing the right modular BPMS tool for their needs. A PPA is thus the ideal starting point for any company that wishes to optimize and automate their business processes in order to remain competitive in the future.

 

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