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How Digital Transformation and Process Automation is Helping Business Bounce Back – Dustin Grosse

The widespread disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to re-evaluate the way they operate. Work practices that have performed well in the past must now be restructured so they function in a much more restricted world.

With staff now working from home, everything from communication channels to workflows must evolve to ensure productivity can continue and customer demands are met.

In many cases, these changes are causing the acceleration of plans that have been on the table for some time. Rather than gradually rolling them out over a period of months or even years, organisations are now having to switch into high gear and complete them as quickly as possible.

Digital transformation

Within many organisations, these required changes are part of a broad digital transformation strategy that has been underway for some time. Touching every facet of operations, this strategy is now playing a critical part in ensuring the organisation is able to support its staff and deliver the best possible service to clients.

Unfortunately for some organisations, the road to digital transformation is not easily travelled. Some projects lose their way or fail to deliver the benefits that were initially anticipated.

In some cases, the usage of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions has created a patchwork of disconnected systems supporting fragmented processes that are difficult to connect, streamline and manage. Often, this has come about because of a disconnect between established in-house IT governance paradigms and more modern microservices-based business solutions.

To overcome this challenge and accelerate a digital transformation strategy, companies need to get this disconnected infrastructure under control. There needs to be a focus on improving the relationship between the IT department and business units and taking what is known as a process automation and platform governance approach.

Process automation and platform governance

Under this approach, an organisation’s IT department helps to administer a set of modular platforms, each with its own specific business goals. A central group, dubbed a process Centre of Excellence (CoE), then helps to administer the various platforms and ensure they are meeting the needs of departments and teams.

This method of operating creates an environment where digital innovation is available to everyone. This, in turn, helps to create better ways of operating than having to rely on a core group of centralised developers to build new software. Companies such as Facebook, Amazon and Google have used this CoE-driven approach for years to grow at a very rapid rate.

The changes are possible because modern SaaS solutions and low-code process automation platforms make it easier than ever for IT, operations and department staff to visually map existing processes. They can optimise them and implement digital automation without requiring software coding skills by offering easy-to-use drag and drop visual configuration and design tools.

Using a process platform

Adopting the right technology, however, is only part of the equation. Successful digital transformation also requires an organisation to evolve its culture and change the way employees work together. There are a range of steps needed to ensure this is done successfully, and they include:

  • Process mapping: Before a process can be successfully automated, it’s important to understand how it currently works. Make use of collaborative process design tools to map all existing processes and open them up to feedback from staff who understand what is actually working and what needs to be changed. This has to be understood before any automation takes place
  • Process governance: Foster better communication and alignment between business/functional managers, operations and IT by embracing a CoE model. Modular teams coordinated through a central authority will allow more effective delivery of innovation that matches the organisation’s long-term goals
  • Automation planning: Once all processes have been mapped, attention should then turn to optimise the most painful ones. This will make them easier to administer and continually improve once automated
  • Technology selection: To maximise the chance of success for your digital transformation and automation project, careful technology selection is important. Elements to consider include digital forms, workflows, robotic process automation, digital approvals, eSignatures, and digital document generation. You should also select a suitable automation platform that offers a complete set of automation technologies
  • Ongoing monitoring: Automation implementation is not the end of the process. The new platform needs to be constantly monitored and any required changes made to ensure it is meeting the needs of all users.

A platform for the future

Although many organisations have found digital transformation and automation projects challenging, following these steps will make it much more likely to succeed.

The process automation platforms and governance approaches now available make it much easier to convert change initiatives into lasting success.

By adopting a process platform mindset and governance approach, it’s possible to create sophisticated and automated workflows that boost productivity and improve the business bottom line.

For more information on process automation and governance, download a discussion paper here.