There’s never been a greater need for business agility than there is right now.

Automation makes businesses more agile. Yet, some company leaders perceive that they are approaching the limit of their business process automation (BPA) possibilities because the vast majority of remaining manual processes are too messy and unstructured to automate.

It can pay off handsomely to rethink this belief and apply BPA to more unstructured processes.

Just ask those involved in automating what Forrester Research Analyst Craig Le Clair describes as “untamed” business processes. Untamed business processes “dangle on the periphery of the more dominant core systems,” he explains, pointing to other characteristics of untamed processes, such as multiple interfaces (e.g., Adobe forms, Microsoft Office and SharePoint portals) and a jumble of human-directed and system-directed decision-making. Le Clair’s research shows that companies can achieve productivity increases of 20% to 25% by optimizing and automating untamed knowledge-worker (e.g., financial planning and analysis) processes and savings of 30% to 50% by doing the same for untamed clerical (e.g., inventory-management) processes.

At Headspring, we complete more than 100 BPA projects a year for clients, and we routinely optimize and automate untamed processes.  This work stretches across all industries, and it includes projects such as automated legal-case management processes (in the public sector), manufacturing processes (technology industry) and lot-purchasing processes (construction), to name only a few examples.

The financial rewards of getting this right can be substantial. For example, one public sector automation solution we delivered for the State of Texas is projected to save over $8.5MM per year in just one area of operation – delivering a project ROI of nearly 300% in Year 1 alone. Many of these processes were larded with paper, spreadsheets and even faxed communications; in other words, they were relatively untamed.

Virtually every organization now operates some form of unstructured business processes and manual data entry or reconciliation using desktop applications. These activities can be an indicator of processes that can be automated to reduce costs and risk. What’s important to keep in mind about Forrester’s research and Headspring’s experience is that “untamed” and “unstructured” don’t hold up as barriers to business process automation.

Help your business become more agile by illuminating fellow IT and business decision-makers on the high returns to be achieved by documenting, optimizing and automating the many business processes that currently lurk beyond automation’s reach.

 

Learn more: Watch Forrester’s Craig Le Clair detail the increasing velocity of business process requests in the Age of the Customer in this webinar replay.

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