When you contact a company or fill a form that is processed by a human, you have the benefit of their adaptability, experience, and understanding of the process. They make incidental decisions and adapt to slight inaccuracies without missing a beat.
Business Process Automation using Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Digital Business Automation, Responsiv Unity Process Module, Business Process Automation (BPM) and any other technology must have similar adaptability.
What is business process automation?
Business Process Management (BPM) is software that controls and collects information about a series of activities. It provides total visibility into your organisation’s business processes. BPM helps you automate, monitor, optimise and continuously improve business processes to increase efficiency and reduce costs.
To begin your BPM journey, you must be focused on delivering business value. Success breeds success, so take an incremental approach that allows you to quickly prove value with a single project, build competency and skills and only then extend your journey across the enterprise.
Products and services relevant to this blueprint include Responsiv Consulting, Responsiv Unity, Enterprise Automation, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), IBM Cloud Pak for Integration, IBM Integration, IBM Automation, IBM Business Process Manager, IBM Digital Business Automation (DBA), IBM Business Automation Workflow (BAW), Business process Automation, IBM Operational Decision Manager (ODM).
Why is BPM important for my business?
Business process management is critical to the way that nearly all organisations operate. That’s because business processes lay the foundation for back-office and front-office business functions — from managing invoices and records to quickly onboarding clients or employees and offering real-time promotional offers to prospects. At the end of the day, business processes allow all the different parts of an organisation to efficiently and effectively work together toward their common goal of serving customers better.
In the past, organisations used BPM to achieve cost savings and productivity gains. More recently, BPM projects emphasise better serving customers. This emphasis on creating exceptional customer experiences has motivated companies seeking to remain competitive advantage to adopt BPM practices and acquire BPM software.
How do I get started with Process Automation?
Business process management and process improvement can seem challenging in the face of complex, interdependent and dynamic business processes, but the right approach can get you there.
Start with business value
Successful business process improvement initiatives start with business value. Organisations must understand their business goals and strategy, then analyse their current processes to identify those that will deliver the greatest return on investment.
Select an initial project
Process improvement initiatives must deliver some quantifiable success or stakeholder commitment and project funding can dry up. By starting with a manageable project, you can develop process improvement skills and deliver value to the business quickly, ensuring commitment, funding and success of subsequent projects.
Use Responsiv Solution as a Service to deliver quick wins and demonstrate the value of BPM.
Extend BPM across the enterprise
Once you have successfully completed an initial project, you can start expanding your BPM adoption to additional projects, leveraging and sharing your expertise along the way to truly build a business process improvement program within your organisation.
Use Responsiv Solution as a Service to encourage small projects to use BPM technology. Combine with Responsiv Consulting to leverage our experience and accelerate time to value. Add Responsiv Assist to ensure continual support and refinement of your processes.
BPM in the context of Self Service
By automating many of the tasks that customer service staff have traditionally completed manually, self-service portals offer an effective solution for businesses of every size. Use BPM in combination with business rules (Decisions) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to more closely mimic human adaptibility.
Customer Self-Service Portals Benefits
Technology is getting smarter, and basic customer service functions are prime candidates for automation.
By applying business process management software to create a Customer Self-Service platform, customers and customer service staff alike will have access to a central hub where they can complete tasks, view information and receive updates on progress. Customer service professionals can offload many transactional and data-entry activities by automating customer service processes with the BPM platform and making them widely accessible to all customers.
Less time spent on repetitive and transactional tasks means more time for strategic planning, and staff are able to focus their efforts on high value tasks that align with company goals. As customer service departments grow more productive, the business realises significant savings in both time and money.
Customer Self-Service portals also benefit engagement levels in other ways. For example, giving customers control over their personal information and processes is empowering, which builds engagement throughout. Most Customer Self-Service users report that they prefer to use an online tool to manage their applications, as they can complete these transactions at their leisure. They are no longer required to make an appointment or wait on a call centre agent to input the information.
Building a Customer Self-Service Portal with BPM Software
Of course, Customer Self-Service Portals are only effective when they are reliable and accurate. This requires automation and process functionality provided by a BPM platform. If BPM software is already in use for other business processes, employees can easily transition their existing skills toward the creation of a self-service portal.
Figure 1; illustrative Business Process Automation
If BPM software is new to the organisation, the success of a Customer Self-Service system encourages company leaders to consider BPM tools for other company processes. In many situations, the use of BPM software in customer service rapidly expands to operations in other parts of the company. The simplicity of combining customer on-boarding processes into a single location is appealing to leaders in every department.
A full-featured BPM solution offers an entire suite of tools, making it a natural choice for building a Customer Self-Service Portal. Common examples of additional Customer Self-Service portal functionality may incorporate the following.
Advanced BPM platforms permit the digital collection, storage, and retrieval of critical documents. In a Customer Self-Service system, this may include tax information, utility bills, and identity confirmations. All items are organised by individual customer, and they are secured through unique passwords. Cloud-based solutions offer a cost-effective and secure way to store these documents, and it is easily scalable for enterprise-wide deployments.
BPM tools can automatically collect and analyse data, allowing for accurate and timely decision making.
Dashboards offer valuable insight into your workforce and customers ensuring a data-driven engagement strategy. Service level reports let users drill down for detailed information on specific cases, even at the individual contributor level. Through built-in reporting tools, Customer Service leaders and managers can monitor and evaluate the efficiency of employees as individuals, groups or even as a department.
Through the use of BPM software, the dashboards inside of Customer Self-Service Portals can be customised and populated with fresh data to serve each user’s needs. They ensure each user receives the most relevant and timely information upon login. For example, individual contributors can make requests, view the status of their requests, update their personal information, and locate outstanding tasks directly from their home page.
Managers can view notifications, requests that need processing and KPI dashboards. They can also utilise self-service features from the home page configured for them. Users can configure dashboards to display information pertinent and timely for virtually any user.
Connections to External Applications
Typically, any business process will interact with a number of systems within an organisation whether that be CRM, HR, Finance or anything else. Ensure your BPM platform offers a comprehensive integration capability, either natively or through an accompanying integration platform. You may be able to integrate BPM features, like the inbox, into an existing user portal to create a seamless experience for your staff members.
If the BPM platform hosts the portal, it is simple to integrate external features into processes and the dashboard. In addition, web services architecture makes it easy to connect with other applications.
As global competition heats up and e-commerce changes consumer expectations, workflow automation is no longer optional. Successful organisations automate routine tasks to maximise efficiency, use resources wisely, and exceed quality standards. Employee transaction automation is a wise nod to valuable lessons already learned from the e-commerce industry. By automating basic functions, Customer Service professionals are better able to add value to the organisation. Customer Self-Service portals built with BPM software can help improve engagement, increase retention, and support employees to become more effective.
An example self-service onboarding process Whilst the below diagram is for employee onboarding rather than customer onboarding the principles remain the same.
You can see that the overall process is mapped and then automated, including all human tasks and systems integrations, to provide a consistent and fully managed end to end process.
The initiator, in the below case the employee and in the context of this document the customer, is able to kick off the process themselves through their preferred channel, mobile phone, web page etc, and the process then goes through all of the necessary steps to completion. We are able to see where we are in the process at any time for each individual client and indeed the client can see where they are, hence, the self-service.
Conclusion and next steps
This paper is focused on Business Process Automation and refers to all forms of automation by that term. Adoption of RPA or BPM starts with an ideation conversation with Responsiv to flesh out ideas, consider the options, and decide whether it is right for you at this particular time.
We know that companies have a great deal going on, and RPA/BPM can be tactical or strategic, and can move from being tactical to strategic. Either way the initial implementation needs to deliver value and demonstrate the opportunity, otherwise what’s the point?
If you decide to give it a go, then we will start with a discovery phase. This involves reviewing the processes that may be candidates for automation, and identifying two or three that can be delivered quickly and that will demonstrate value.
Following discovery, a Responsiv RPA/BPM developer writes a set of instructions that instruct the platform to perform your chosen process.
Any exceptions or escalations are reviewed and resolved by an experienced business user to be added to the automation or treated as exceptions.
We have no doubt, Robotic Process Automation and/or Business Process Management (BPM) can bring significant efficiencies to your organisation and look forward to our first conversations.
Richard Whyte has been building enterprise IT solutions for over 20 years. He is known for creating innovative practical solutions that provide a strong foundation for future development, whilst solving immediate problems. Previously the European CTO and Principal Architect for IBM Systems Middleware at IBM, he has an MBA, a degree in Statistics and Computing, is a Chartered Engineer, a Chartered IT Professional, and Fellow of both the Institute of Technology and the British Computer Society.