The sixth reason for knowing your business processes: the automation of process models.
Why automate a process
In industrialised countries, systems are often cheaper than labour costs. Moreover, with the increasing level of education, fewer people are willing to carry out repetitive work. On top of that, for more repetitive activities, machines, software applications, robots, etc. are more reliable. Hence, automation helps to make processes more efficient; provided however that the process is designed efficiently.
Reflect before you automate
It is useless to automate a non-optimal business process, because this will only strengthen the weaknesses (errors, wastes, etc.), namely by increased volumes.
Therefore the knowledge, as well as the optimisation of business processes (BPR = Business Process Re-engineering or Business Process Redesign) is essential before the automation. This applies to small improvements (like the automation of one or some tasks within 1 process – e.g. by using a specific machine or application), as well as to substantial improvement projects which impact lots of processes or the complete organisation (like e.g. the implementation of an ERP-, a CRM- or another company-wide software application).
In the blog “Efficient and effective human resource management” we already set out the term “capabilities”. These also form the base for determining the functionalities of (information) systems. No matter if it is about a self-developing system or about a purchased application (so called ‘Commercial-off-the-Shelf, abbreviated COTS’). On the basis of the same example, we will illustrate you how the requirements for an information system can be derived out of the process activity. Again, we use the activity “Weigh the load of raw materials” out of previous blogs and we describe the requirements for the capability “Registration of data” as an example. The registration system should (at least) be able to :
- Capture the weight data from the weigh bridge. In the diagram we specify which data: the gross weight and the tare.
- Capture other data from the user (e.g. via a keyboard), being the supplier data, vehicle data, product data
- Store these both types of data in the database with the weight data.
- Calculate the net weight (= gross weight – tare) by the registration system
- Print the weight data on the goods receipt note.
Usually, it is the task of a business or functional analyst to determine such requirements for the automation of the process. It is however obvious that a thorough knowledge of the business process is a ‘must’ to determine which activities can be supported by information systems and in what way.
Model-driven system development
Process modelling has in some cases additional benefits. So, BPMN (Business Process Modeling Notation) – since version 2.0 -, allows to generate so called executable processes out of process models. By using e.g. a BPMS (Business Process Management Suite) application, it is possible to automate the process quickly and make it executable, starting from a well designed process model. And although support or intervention of information technologists is recommended – read necessary -, this approach has a very important benefit. The same process model is being understood in a uniform manner by business people as well as by information experts who make the process executable. Colleagues with a more business profile and colleagues with a more technical profile speak the same language, based on one and the same business model.
The below video illustrates (from sec. 15) how you can automate a simple process with a BPMS software from a (BPMN) process model. In other words, the automation of process models.
Would your like to know if such a BPMS software can add value to your organisation? Please be free to contact or ask your question in the comment box below this blog.