Executive Briefings

Four Pillars for Business Process Automation

"If we want to enter in an automated processes schema, the principle problem that we must resolve is the modeling of the current and proposed context. Based on my experience in process automation I can say that there exists a high-priority necessity for the correct evaluation of the current activities of the process one wishes to automate in order to assure the successful future implementation of the automation of the said process, based on four fundamental factors: maturity, process definition, organizational culture, and managerial drive."

In order for a process to be automated using a BPMS (Business Process Management System) and to be considered a successful solution for management and productivity improvement, the process requires the following attributes: a high level of maturity, formal establishment as part of the activities of each and every actor that intervenes in said process, changes to the organizational paper-based culture, and a managerial drive, linked to a formally defined role structure in order to bring to life the entire automization process. These four factors are the fundamental pillars for an accurate process automation that reflects the reality of the process.

Process maturity is the extent to which a process is explicitly defined, measured, controlled, and administrated, and is considered the principle categorization for effectivity. These elements are what constitute maturity as the first of our four fundamental pillars for successful process automation. The second pillar that supports process automation is the correct definition of the process that one wishes to implement, taking into account the current operations of the organization. This definition consists of the definition of the activities realized by each actor of the process, the formalization, approval, and diffusion of said activities through a document backed by upper management. If changes to the function of the model occur, they should be coordinated and understood by upper management in order to promote an adequate diffusion and execution of the proposed changes.

The evolution away from "paper-based culture" is considered the third pillar for automation. Paper should be set aside and we must count with confidence on the electronic management of processes and the automatic emission of only the documents critical for physical backup. Additionally, we must trust in process revision through computer and BPM tools that will be utilized. Confidence in the internal management of electronic processes should be provided by the BPM system supplier, in addition to security in the management of actors that use the tool.

Managerial drive at the time of considering process automation is the fourth pillar, and is of significant importance during the following phases: process modeling, model testing, design adjustments, process implementation in a run-time environment, and the post-production phase of any process implemented and automated through a BPM tool. The formal assignment of project leaders and the commitment of end users in the organization that seeks to automate its processes are predominant in the previously mentioned phases. This organizational commitment fosters adequate communication among the members of the process automization team and the leaders of the automization promotion initiative. In order to address automated and sustainable business process solutions in the medium-term (due to the dynamic nature of a process), the four pillars discussed should exist. In the case that one is lacking, it should be addressed and worked on in order to successfully realize the implementation of a BPM system.

 Ramiro Cuentas, B.S. in Computer Science, has three years of experience in process automation implementations and more than five years of experience in information and communication technologies. Mr. Cuentas specializes in applying concepts, techniques, methodologies, and best practices in process automations. Currently he is the National BPM Technical Coordinator in a project financed by the World Bank with the goal of applying a BPM system in more than 100 small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) in Bolivia, in order to improve their productivity and strategic management.
BPM Institute

"If we want to enter in an automated processes schema, the principle problem that we must resolve is the modeling of the current and proposed context. Based on my experience in process automation I can say that there exists a high-priority necessity for the correct evaluation of the current activities of the process one wishes to automate in order to assure the successful future implementation of the automation of the said process, based on four fundamental factors: maturity, process definition, organizational culture, and managerial drive."

In order for a process to be automated using a BPMS (Business Process Management System) and to be considered a successful solution for management and productivity improvement, the process requires the following attributes: a high level of maturity, formal establishment as part of the activities of each and every actor that intervenes in said process, changes to the organizational paper-based culture, and a managerial drive, linked to a formally defined role structure in order to bring to life the entire automization process. These four factors are the fundamental pillars for an accurate process automation that reflects the reality of the process.

Process maturity is the extent to which a process is explicitly defined, measured, controlled, and administrated, and is considered the principle categorization for effectivity. These elements are what constitute maturity as the first of our four fundamental pillars for successful process automation. The second pillar that supports process automation is the correct definition of the process that one wishes to implement, taking into account the current operations of the organization. This definition consists of the definition of the activities realized by each actor of the process, the formalization, approval, and diffusion of said activities through a document backed by upper management. If changes to the function of the model occur, they should be coordinated and understood by upper management in order to promote an adequate diffusion and execution of the proposed changes.

The evolution away from "paper-based culture" is considered the third pillar for automation. Paper should be set aside and we must count with confidence on the electronic management of processes and the automatic emission of only the documents critical for physical backup. Additionally, we must trust in process revision through computer and BPM tools that will be utilized. Confidence in the internal management of electronic processes should be provided by the BPM system supplier, in addition to security in the management of actors that use the tool.

Managerial drive at the time of considering process automation is the fourth pillar, and is of significant importance during the following phases: process modeling, model testing, design adjustments, process implementation in a run-time environment, and the post-production phase of any process implemented and automated through a BPM tool. The formal assignment of project leaders and the commitment of end users in the organization that seeks to automate its processes are predominant in the previously mentioned phases. This organizational commitment fosters adequate communication among the members of the process automization team and the leaders of the automization promotion initiative. In order to address automated and sustainable business process solutions in the medium-term (due to the dynamic nature of a process), the four pillars discussed should exist. In the case that one is lacking, it should be addressed and worked on in order to successfully realize the implementation of a BPM system.

 Ramiro Cuentas, B.S. in Computer Science, has three years of experience in process automation implementations and more than five years of experience in information and communication technologies. Mr. Cuentas specializes in applying concepts, techniques, methodologies, and best practices in process automations. Currently he is the National BPM Technical Coordinator in a project financed by the World Bank with the goal of applying a BPM system in more than 100 small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) in Bolivia, in order to improve their productivity and strategic management.
BPM Institute