Sponsored by VIP Apps Consulting Ltd
Driving Digital Transformation with BPM and RPA Platforms
With so many different BPM and RPA platforms available in the market, Matthew Bawden, Principal Consultant at VIP Apps Consulting, sheds light on the best approach in your digital transformation journey.
Digital transformation, the act of moving from paper and manual processes to paperless, interactive and automated processes, has been put forward as the holy grail for productivity and efficiency for decades. However, in the last five to ten years, the technology, especially the accessibility to those without technical backgrounds, has improved immensely and the development of artificial intelligence solutions to robotise processes means we are now closer to realising the potential of this type of business transformation than we have ever been.
No more clunky screen-scraping. No more complex coding solutions or disparate applications unable to communicate and integrate with each other, leading to manual process bottlenecks. A workforce that is used to collaboration and digital transformation in their social and personal financial lives are now better adapted to social collaboration within their business life.
Always online and accessible, with declarative tools to allow the end-users to model, design and implement automation of their processes with minimal technical knowledge or IT department interaction, and content service solutions to manage documentation, decision making and approval without any paper copies insight, the new breed of business process management and robotic process automation platforms are rightly able to call themselves digital transformation.
Whether coming from a process modelling base and moving into process automation or coming from a robotic process automation base and providing workflow tools, many similar providers are moving into the digital workplace space. This brings with it a dilemma, of course – how to differentiate between the many providers of these platforms and identify which will be best suited to your business? Many application platforms contain or provide their own process automation tools, such as Salesforce, Microsoft and Oracle. Standalone digital workplace providers include open-source solutions like Camunda BPM through industry heavyweights like Automation Anywhere, Laserfiche, Processmaker, Blueprism, UI Path and Nintex. All these solutions share a common feature set:
• Native process modelling capability, often supporting the BPMN 2.0 process modelling standard.
• No to low code declarative design and implementation tools to enable non-technical users to build applications, forms and workflows which can be quickly deployed without involvement by the IT department.
• Always available cloud access via a browser or access via on-premises servers.
• Native APIs and tools to connect to most major CRM and ERP providers, including Salesforce, Oracle and SAP, enabling cross-application automation.
• Capability to robotise processes to populate data without human intervention.
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They are also all eager to highlight the flexibility of their solutions, allowing you to invest only in the elements that suit your need and then build up to full automation solutions or integrations as required. However, that somewhat negates the unique selling point of these platforms, which is to act as an overall digital workplace where all your disparate processes and applications can be unified, optimised and, where applicable, automated to free up your human resource to focus on your own companies USP, whatever that may be.
Many people take the objectives of digital transformation as axiomatic. After all, who would argue against removing repetitive manual tasks from their business processes, giving their workforce the opportunity to use their full skill set in promoting and expanding the business rather than pushing buttons or printing documents? Therein lies a paradox, though, as often the expertise of your workforce is also in which button to push and which document to manage.
Training robotic software to achieve what the best human software does naturally is not an easy task. Despite rapid advancements in artificial intelligence algorithms, there are still some processes where the human touch can be the difference between a happy customer or a lost customer.
So, as with any business endeavour, digital transformation should not be approached just as a means to an end or as the latest must-have piece of technology, but as an extension of the normal continuous improvement practices that should underpin your business. Whether you use digital platforms to empower your workforce to lead change or employ process assessment experts like VIP Apps Consulting, regular evaluation of your business processes to identify inefficiencies and bottlenecks will identify the prime candidates for effective digital transformation and help you narrow down the requirements for your chosen platform, allowing you to invest in innovative technologies whilst maximising value. In the current climate, improving your own efficiencies and value base, whilst allowing your human capital to focus on the differentiators that are uniquely provided by human touch, will not only help now but build a robust platform for the future.