Today we live in a world driven by the new digital economy where every company is a technology company. Enterprise applications drive business at every level, from customer interaction to order and service fulfillment to billing.
The ability to innovate and quickly adapt to changes (business-driven and IT-driven) is key to an organization’s success. Enterprise organizations that look to innovate quickly and efficiently turn to intelligent automation because they know manual processes are too costly and inefficient.
But organizations building automation at the enterprise level face two very big problems when it comes to automating: complexity and scale. Let’s break those two down.
- Complexity: Ensuring quality and reducing the risks associated with today’s enterprise applications requires end-to-end testing of critical business processes. And, as enterprise landscapes continue to grow and change, so do the business processes. More and more, these processes bob and weave across packaged applications like SAP, mobile and web-based apps, and on-premise or hybrid cloud environments. The first step is to ensure that you understand how your critical business processes work across these applications and where you might have serious exposure to failure. If you don’t know exactly what your as-is business processes are, how do you know what to test? With the complexity we just touched on, a great deal of time and manual effort goes into discovering and documenting existing business processes. Unfortunately, this documentation quickly becomes outdated and inaccurate. A similar consequence carries into the testing component — what’s the use in testing “old” business processes when things are constantly changing?
- Scale: Enterprise applications are expected to scale, and there’s a quality concern that comes with that. Creating automated testing that covers processes within single applications won’t help speed projects and mitigate technology risk. Companies must look at the end-to-end business processes that impact the business. Automation focused on driving business outcomes means companies can manage continuous and widespread change no matter the size of the application environment and can support broad-reaching movement to bimodal and hybrid IT. Organizations need to be able to take a step back and make sure the areas they’re testing are accomplishing the big-picture goals and what’s best for the business and the end users … all of the end users.
What Is Business-driven Automation?
Traditionally, testing was looked at from the IT perspective. Quality teams tested based on the limited information they had about their processes, an approach that relied on time-consuming manual effort and required programming skills and scripting. One problem with this approach is that it simply takes too long to develop and maintain the necessary code, costs too much to keep skilled coders on as staff or as consultants, and doesn’t provide the test coverage needed to effectively manage technology risk.
Today, we see the need for business-driven automated testing. Critical business processes drive strategic business outcomes. These processes need to work as designed and support rapid delivery and ultimately enable faster innovation. The focus is no longer on the individual application and the code, but on the end-to-end business processes that traverse multiple applications — packaged and custom apps — and support business users. Business users are taking more direct ownership over the applications that support their role, and automation is becoming a necessity to make changes or improvements faster.
With business-driven automation, it’s not about how quickly an app can be built, but how quickly updates and changes can be deployed without business disruption. Today’s large enterprises must take a new business-driven approach to automation that includes management of enterprise application business processes. This approach allows companies to make resources more productive, reduce the time to deliver value to the business, and ensure that critical operations are undisturbed by unintended consequences of changes.
There’s a new, more effective way to drive business outcomes — business-driven automation that increases delivery velocity, improves productivity of business experts, and ensures the quality execution of business processes after each and every change.
The Six Components of Business-driven Automation You Must Consider
To solve both problems, organizations must consider six components needed to achieve effective business-driven automation:
1. Discovery: It’s absolutely critical that organizations capture and gain a deeper understanding of their actual business processes and all their variations. Companies rely on this powerful information to drive process improvement, risk mitigation, and quality assurance.
2. Documentation: To drive business-driven automation at scale, organizations must be able to generate and maintain up-to-date business process documentation. Companies are seeking ways to eliminate the delays typically associated with manual documentation and ensure the accuracy of documents, whether for training, compliance, auditing, or establishing best practices.
3. Testing: If organizations aren’t employing continuous end-to-end testing with scale in mind, they’re putting themselves at risk for lost revenue, declining stock, and a lag in innovation that today’s economy demands.
4. Compliance: Organizations must be able to generate and maintain accurate business process documentation to ensure compliance. And they have to do it at scale. Business users hold the knowledge around these processes, but their time is expensive and any time spent creating documentation takes them away from their primary mission.
5. Risk: Enterprise organizations looking to succeed must lower their technology risks with end-to-end business process testing. It’s critical that the technology risk that comes with complexity and change across the enterprise landscape is managed proactively. This risk is growing every day with the introduction of bimodal and hybrid IT models.
6. Robotic Process Automation: A major problem enterprise organizations encounter is that offshoring and efficiency projects don’t produce the labor and time savings they need. Replacing manual efforts with automation can drive accuracy and efficiency, and cut costs. Organizations should consider replacing human effort with digital labor, or robotic process automation (RPA).
We’ll explore each of these components in depth in the future. Stay tuned.