To take action towards implementing business automation, it is necessary to understand the current level of maturity according to a model. Business automation is entirely based on Business Process Management implementation. Therefore, the Business Process Management Maturity (BPMM) helps to define the Business Automation Maturity.
When seeking quality improvement, cost reduction, and delivery-time reduction, organizations tend to use standards and best practice frameworks for IT transformation (i.e., ITIL). Managers start implementing and determining goals inside team silos as if the organization is built in an island-type manner — each sector seeking their own goals independently.
However, to create a successful business automation project, we should align business management and digital transformation to address both business and digital needs.
|The information provided in this post is based on the BPMM specification defined in 2008 and in a study, which compares ten different maturity models created within the years 2004 and 2009. The paper “Developing a business process management maturity model: A study of 300 Iranian superior companies” drives a study with experts who work in superior companies ranked by Industrial Management Organization.|
To identify business automation maturity, let’s first be aware of the Business Process Management Maturity (BPMM).
Business Process Management Maturity (BPMM)
Business Process Management Maturity Model (BPM3) is a specification that started in 2002 and was adopted by OMG in June 2008. It consists of categorizing and guiding companies through five different levels of transformation. It involves the measurement of several items like business process architecture, culture, information technology, individuals, and monitoring.
The levels are summarized ahead. Each level is an evolution of its previous. In other words, it is required that an organization meet all the conditions of earlier levels to achieve the following one. An organization can be identified in one of the next maturity stages:
|Levels||Business Process Management Maturity|
|Level 1: Initial (Enlightenment)||There is no definition of business processes at this level, and neither predictable results. Tasks are executed independently and do not belong to any specific set or flow. In this level, managers can be aware of the importance of business process management but do not take action to start implementing it; The driver to the next level is the decision to start operation change through process management; This decision should be inspired via training and investment on managers.|
|Level 2: Repeatable (Stability)||Managers practice BPM procedures with critical processes. Processes can be repeated, although different units can execute similar tasks in different ways. Implementation of BPM, still doesn’t reach the organization horizontally; The need to spread the view and implementation to boundary processes will be the driver for the next level;|
|Level 3: Standardized||A significant number of processes are now clearly defined and standardized; Instructions and methods on how to execute them are adjusted;|
|Level 4: Predictable (Systematic)||In this stage, the company has achieved expertise in process management. Stakeholders regularly receive quantitative assessment and have regular control of process performance. The data is also assessed statistically to be able to predict process outcome on intermediate states of processes executions.|
|Level 5: Innovating|
|The organization performs on-going improvements on its operations based on the observed results to reach market continually evolving market needs. It has enough competency, culture, and technology to support processes re-optimization, and the investments are made on responses for tactical and strategic requirements.|
Based on this information, try to understand the current maturity of the scenario you will work with. After that, you will be able to come up with a proper plan for the implementation of the business automation project.
Seeking Business Automation Maturity
Business Automation implementation is an accelerator for the evolution of the Business Process Management Maturity.
The usage of technology in the business process management practice:
- supports processes execution reducing deviations due to human flaws – machines always do as determined;
- improves traceability by storing and collecting real execution data;
- provides reports with the outcomes that determine possible impacts of business changes;
- reduces delay on implementation of business changes;
- enables effective monitoring of processes based on real-time data;
- allows rapid problem-solving for complex resource planning use cases;
Here are suggested goals to seek during business automation journey:
Use executable business assets: rules, processes, and problem-solving are self-documented on executable assets. Since there is no need for documenting every business logic, the time spent with meetings and documentation maintenance reduces drastically. The business team works with and validates business logic, which is graphically represented and automatically converted to code. This practice reduces possible deviations from requirements and implementation.
Teams intensive collaboration: the business team and the technology team works continuously together. The communication is more effective, and application deliveries are more accurate. Domain Driven Design concepts and practices are used to improve communication and reduce maintenance issues created by differences in code implementation, documentation language, and business language.
Decouple business logic: Business logic now runs in independent services. Consequently, hardware allocation is more precise; maintenance and monitoring are enhanced. Project management now can parallelize business logic work independently from the back-end and front-end services.
Ongoing monitoring of business activities: the business area is capable of defining proper KPIs. Technology is used to collect and monitor this information, elaborate friendly, and assertive dashboard reports. Analysis of these dashboards provides insights for prediction and improvement of processes.
The business team is responsible for maintaining business logic: after delivering the first versions of the project, the business team can be instructed on how they can maintain the business rules and processes by themselves. By achieving this goal, the technology team will receive fewer change requests created due to business changes.
Choose a mature technology stack: choose a stack that provides a good working environment for both technical and non-technical people. At the same time, carefully analyze the technical maturity of the solution. Here are some items to consider regarding the business automation solution to be used:
- Both the developer and business analyst’s productivity should be enhanced, not affected by this tool; Based on this, it should offer proper working tooling for both technical and non-technical personas;
- It should support the implementation of well-established standards like BPMN2, DMN and CMMN;
- It should be easily scalable (both on cloud or non-cloud environments);
- It should be easily fit into the architectures which you might consider (monolithic approach, distributed microservices, event-driven solutions, etc);
- How easy is it to integrate it with the other services of your ecosystem? Check the available API’s and how they are exposed; Make sure to validate if there are any available clients to make the implementation easier;
- Does it support Single Sign-On? How is this achieved?
- Cloud is now a must-have. How cloud-friendly is the stack you are looking at? Is it Kubernetes friendly? Does it provide operators to support the delivery and maintenance of your business app?
- How easy is it to customize it, and for example, create a new task with your business logic to be easily consumed by your domain users?
- Does it offer monitoring capabilities to enable processes, tasks, and other KPIs tracking?
- And technically speaking, does it offer traceability and monitoring of the engine components?
- Check for enterprise support costs if that suits your organization scenario;
- Does it offer easy ways to map and migrate running process instances?
- Can you implement automated delivery pipelines to deliver the business application packaged by this tool?
- How testable is it? In other words, can you create unit tests for rules and processes?
For now, let’s stop with this list since it might get too long and tiring to read. As we go through the posts of the jBPM Getting Started you should be enabled to come up with more criteria yourself to better select the right business automation tool for your needs.