Forrester: The 3 pillars of Operational Excellence

Following a recent webinar, Software AG asked guest speaker Rob Koplowitz to respond to some compelling questions on the topic of operational excellence.

What is the role of process mining and process modeling/documentation? How should they work together? What is their role in feeding an automation pipeline?

According to Forrester’s 2021 Digital Process Automation Survey, the primary goal for process optimization efforts for nearly one-third of organizations is driving digital business transformation. This is a strategic business objective that requires a diligent approach. Ideally, process mining and process modeling/documentation should complement one another in driving process optimization. Organizations are faced with unprecedented challenges with regard to driving efficient and effective processes, increasingly in support of automation. The challenge is how to do this right and at scale.

Process mining offers two very important ways to support this goal. These are the ability to: 1) provide objective insight into how processes are running and 2) do it at scale through automation. Once you establish a baseline through process mining, relevant stakeholders can use process modeling and documentation to collaboratively reengineer processes either strictly to drive optimization or in anticipation of automation.

What are the best practices for engaging and managing diverse teams in process improvement initiatives? Should we be encouraging “citizen process experts”?

We’ve traditionally approached process optimization through the lens of strict process methodologies like Six Sigma. Make no mistake, that still applies and those process professionals are more important than ever. However, to really drive organizational efficiency and effectiveness, we need to tap into the broad knowledge of the entire organization. That means engaging the business at all levels and with the goal of continuous process improvement. To reach this goal, business users will increasingly embrace tools for process mining, modeling, and documentation as part of their regular work.

The role of the citizen process expert, who looks for process optimization opportunities as part of their job, will complement the role of the citizen developer looking to drive more pervasive automation. In fact, any organization that is embarking on a citizen developer program without also embracing process reengineering on a broad basis is making a big mistake. Remember the old adage: Don’t pave cow paths.

What are the top few process re-engineering use cases that are driving renewed interest and growth inprocess mining and documentation initiatives? What does the “long tail” of processes look like (the rest of your processes)?

Process optimization has long been applied to critical business processes like purchase to pay in finance and lead to order and order to cash in sales. These and similar processes are well defined and relatively common across businesses, and they remain important.

However, Forrester data from the 2021 Digital Process Automation Survey indicates that 69% of organizations will place business process transformation or improved customer experience as the primary focus for process optimization efforts by 2023. This means that process improvement will become a pervasive strategic business goal and will extend out to all aspects of the business. The guidance is to make process optimization everyone’s job and part of the organizational DNA.

Talking about process documentation, what roles do risk and compliance play?

Assessing process compliance and deviations is key to continuous process improvement. In the past, risk and compliance were focused on process documentation in order to demonstrate that the organization was conforming with organizational and regulatory guidelines. However, they could and should play a much bigger role in ongoing process optimization.

Process optimization and automation, properly implemented, should improve an organization’s risk and compliance profile considerably. Risk and compliance experts in your organization should be active stakeholders in process optimization from the start. In addition, process mining could play a critical role in ensuring that the “as is” state of process conforms with the documented state.

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