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While automation seems to be on everyone's mind, do you think companies would do better (improve efficiency and see better ROI) from reengineering their processes then trying to automate them?
Bogdan Nafornita Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Neither. Reengineering is slow, expensive and alienating to the organization. Automating without any bit of transformational thinking is faster but creates technical debt that is ultimately dangerous and expensive.

They'd be better incrementally transforming them, with quick wins that engage the organization.
CEO, Co-founder, profluo.com
Comment
Jose Camacho Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
No doubt.

Usually the processes in use are not optimized, they result from a series of parts that have been aggregated over time, without a properly organized end-to-end view. In this sense, automating current processes translates in most cases into automating inefficiencies.
In this way, it is highly recommended to rethink the processes with the objective of efficiently responding to the current demands of the clients, making the best possible use of the new concepts and means of electronic business.
On the other hand, this is the only way to make sustained decisions on investments in information technology, and guarantee the respective return and valuation of the business itself.

Automating without thinking gives a sense of immediate results at an early stage, often leading to discontrol of projects, very expensive and highly dubious solutions to business objectives.
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Stuart Chandler Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Blog Writer
It is not either or. Best approach is to reengineer then automate but today's world moves too fast and agility requires trade-offs. It's a balancing act. There is not all the time in the world to reengineer nor automate so like a teeter-totter or Lady Justice balancing the scales, sometimes it is worth tipping the scale to full reengineer (if process is that bad) and other times just automate (sweep out cost) maybe taking some bad process with it. However, organizations that model their business and can measure 'benefit' effectively can properly direct their teams to make better decisions on reengineer/automate combination, whether to balance or tip the scales one way or the other to reach optimal outcomes.
Comment
With more or less optimization in each case, this is to think the processes before automating them. It is obvious that these transformation processes must be agile, creating small cycles of evaluation, decision, implementation and monitoring, which allows the presentation of results faster, as well as learning and adjusting with the transformation process itself.
  1. Jose Camacho
  2. 4 weeks ago
Caspar Jans Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Principally this question is simple: if you automate something that is not optimal (read: not re-engineered) you are just get the same crappy outcome, but only faster and digital.

Reality however shows that patience is no longer a virtue and companies do not want to spend time and resources on something they have to wait on for too long. So, ultimately, a company will have to combine the two. Whenever they want to automate something (f.e. via RPA) they would be wise to first look if a small scale optimization should not happen first. The other way around applies too. If a company is planning on doing a process improvement project, looking for automation opportunities should be a default part of the improvement project. This way the knife cuts on both sides.

Again, this is a very fundamental discussion that might deserve more than just three lines, but it's a VUCA world :-)
BPM is all about mindset first and toolset later....much later
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Dr Alexander Samarin Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Close to Bogdan's position. Reengineering and automation are two necessary parts in an incremental transformation step. For some processes, automation comes first and for others - reengineering. All depends, as usual.

Thanks,
AS
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Emiel Kelly Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Automation (like workflow, data, people, steering, hardware) is all stuff that makes a process work.

So to me it's automatically interconnected. It's the new sub optimization to change one of the enablers without taking the others into account.

You know, buying that fantastic appy thing from the brochure, without considering the impact on data, people, workflow.

So to me Automation and reengineering are not 2 separate things. Automation is a way to reengineer. At least, if reengineering is not seen as 'staring at process models and moving some blocks around'
Sharing my adventures in Process World via Procesje.nl
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David Chassels Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
To "automate" it is vital before you start that business understand and have confidence in the supporting software. The other challenge we have found very few understand the end to end process with the Gap between IT and business has not really had joined up horizontal knowledge being "smothered" by the silo inside out systems! Reengineering comes with looking at automation and automation will encourage reengineering. What ever nothing is static in operational salient processes so reengineering should be enabled with the software which readily supports change.....with confidence being gained by users that it actually delivers and not just another failed IT project...?
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Mike Raia Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
We recently worked with a large pharmaceutical manufacturer to upgrade to a new automation platform. In the process they discovered that nearly 60% of their existing processes needed to be deleted, merged or redesigned. If we hadn't gone through the upgrade process, these old, misaligned processes would still be in place. My point here, like most others in the discussion, is that any process being moved into an automation platform should be looked at for potential reengineering before any automation work begins. In addition, any processes that have already been automated should be reviewed regularly for relevance and accuracy. We recently blogged about the signs that it's time to reengineer a process.
References
  1. https://www.integrify.com/blog/posts/is-it-time-to-overhaul-your-processes/
Going with the Flow at Integrifyintegrify.com
Comment

@Mike - This is really important . . . "nearly 60% of their existing processes needed to be deleted, merged or redesigned"

NOT when you have a Case Management system that receives background orchestration from BPM and governance from Rule Sets.

All the organization needs is to establish a "no verbal orders" policy and you immediately get all staff on board for the simple reason that not using the workflow management system puts staff outside, looking in.

PROVIDING IT never rolls out a workflow management system where it is more difficult to use the system than to not use the system.

There are three levels of maturity in respect of deployment of policy and procedure
a) off-line (easy to get the result you cite)
b) on-line (easy to get the result you cite)
c) in-line (difficult to get the result you cite)

Where background BPM provides the orchestration for all work, staff members either perform as per the workflow templates OR constantly override the workflow with ad hoc interventions.

When the fit is not right, you get a deluge of complaints from both the users and from corporate data analysts, so it is next to impossible to allow this state of affairs to exist.
  1. Karl Walter Keirstead
  2. 3 weeks ago

It's really easy to onboard medical staff in healthcare apps - the cardinal rule is 'no interventions without first consulting the chart" - they know this , they know that IT knows this.

When the chart is electronic and you go there, it seems irrational to exit from the system as opposed to recording your observations at the e-chart.

Result:: Recordings get done at the e-chart. (work is guided by BPM best practice templates, governance from rule sets prevents extreme unwanted excursions away from best practices), but otherwise the practitioner is free to do what they like.

Easy to onboard in Law Enforcement where variation from protocol in areas like homicide investigations, leads to breaking the chain of custody and getting your evidence thrown out of court. Follow the protocol/rules , errors and omissions go down.
  1. Karl Walter Keirstead
  2. 3 weeks ago
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