Learn how ABPD helps managers to automatically discover process flows, inefficiencies and bottlenecks
Gartner has recently raised to “high” its evaluation about benefits obtained by this technique, aimed at cost reduction and process optimization
The world’s leading information technology research and advisory company, Gartner has recently introduced a new acronym called ABPD – Automated Business Process Discovery. This new term designates a technique that allows managers to discover, understand and explore their operational process flows in details, spending a fraction of the cost and time when compared to more traditional, interview-based approaches.
In summary, this technique uses common event logs from process automation tools such as ITSM platforms, ERP and CRM systems to model, through sophisticated algorithms, the “how it really happens” process. Not only will it identify the process flow, but also – and equally important – its bottlenecks and inefficiencies. According to Gartner, such task is not possible to accomplish using traditional Business Intelligence (BI) tools.
Gartner also affirms that traditional interview-based techniques for process discovery are not only more expensive and time consuming, but also subject to inaccurate conclusions, often times executed by people with no business knowledge and having no objective validation mechanisms. How do you guarantee 100% confidence that the process reported during the interviews is the one being followed on a daily basis?
To fulfill this demand, the first ABPD tools were created and are starting to make it to market prime time. The main benefit of such tools is to allow managers to literally “watch” a snippet of the processes he/she manages, as if he/she was replaying in fast forward mode the entire flow construction. He/she can visually identify the exact point where a bottleneck happened, with no margins for imprecisions or misjudgments.
To make the “magic” happen, ABPD tools need at least three pieces of information, usually already captured by process management tools: the “case” ID, the name of the activity and the timestamp when each activity happened.
To illustrate, picture yourself calling a broadband service provider to complaint about their services and getting a “ticket number” in case you want to follow up later about your complaint. This is the “case” ID. As time goes by, your “case” goes through many steps, with each step adding new information and possibly changing status. Examples: 2 pm: case opening; 3 pm: ticket transferred to a broadband specialist; 5 pm: remote configuration executed; 6 pm: case resolved.
Using their own algorithms, ABPD tools can process large volumes of information associated to all cases – sometimes in the hundreds of thousands cases a day. They can identify time-consuming tasks, most common paths, exceptions, loops, cases where the objective was not achieved (when an unresolved case is reopened, for example) and visually display all of these situations as they really happened.
Some of the top tools in this field also allow users to navigate and explore the data, through the creation of dynamic filters to understand specific situations. As an example, in just a few clicks you can answer questions such as “what process is being followed when an equipment purchase order takes more than 5 days to be approved?”. This type of assessment is key to reduce cost and increase operational efficiency.
Another interesting feature is what we call “behavior guidance”. This feature detects deviations in the process and send notifications to involved stakeholders in order to avoid major problems. For example, the tool can warn managers every time customer complaints are reopened more than twice without being solved. This way, measurements that are more effective can be taken to avoid losing an unsatisfied customer.
The list of possibilities is endless – Gartner identifies at least 12 situations where this technique can be applied, emphasizing the fact that it doesn’t interfere with on-going processes because it works on top of past records, that could easily be available in read-only mode.
Fernando Moraes is the R&D and Innovation Manager at Icaro Tech, a company specialized in management solutions and analytics that offers consultancy, systems integration and managed services.
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