Question: We’re mapping our processes — is there some way we can use these maps to ‘workflow’ those processes, so we automate them as we map them?
The trick is not to take things too literally. If ‘we can automate our processes as we map them!’ sounds a little too good to be true… it’s because it is.
Process improvement is process improvement, and software development is an entirely different challenge. Don’t kid yourself that these can somehow be merged at the flip of a switch.
There are many automation platforms out there that use a graphical process map interface, that actually execute code. The only people that should be considering them are software development teams in need of capabilities like a common software development interface, or application integration tools. Solutions like Appian and Pegasystems are examples – they resolve these technical challenges and can bring significant benefits.
Unfortunately, there are no miracle short cuts to process improvement. A solid foundation of process knowledge is needed to support an ongoing culture of ‘what can we do better, how can we work smarter’ to spot the opportunities for improvement, some of which include automating processes via acquisition (like a new CRM to automate sales processes) or software development projects.
The best organisations in the world have built a contagious positive attitude, where whole teams feel involved in improvement and innovation to spot these opportunities. Introducing the wrong tool, or one that’s too technical to manage, might not only fail to bring the expected benefits, but could actually kill engagement with these teams, and weaken core process management disciplines.