Enterprise process automation is crucial, yet tricky.
Throughout large organizations, departments are operating on dozens of processes that have been digitalized or automated to varying degrees.
These departments are begging for IT’s help to fix their outdated workflows. Others have “solved” their own problems with freemiums and macro-rich spreadsheets. Both scenarios are risky and need to be addressed with a sustainable, long-term solution. (Which one is scarier is kind of a toss up).
Navigating your automation platform choices
With high demand for full-scale digitalization in the enterprise, IT is under tremendous pressure to automate widely and quickly — especially those lingering manual processes. There are technologies that offer a speedy pathway to automation, but speed in the short-term doesn’t add up to a long-term automation strategy.
Other organizations are in a digital rut with legacy automation solutions. IT departments take a “this is the way we’ve always done it” approach and assume what worked five years ago is good enough. It’s not.
Robotic process automation (RPA)
RPA is good for unattended automation of repetitive, rule-based tasks. Like transferring information between multiple (otherwise siloed) applications. But RPA can break easily with slightest change in data or the interface. By itself, RPA cannot deliver end-to-end automation - it lacks scalability and requires high-maintenance. In fact, every change in process would possibly require a new RPA bot. Apps built on low-code platform enable end-to-end process automation and can easily integrate with RPA bots.Find out how RPA and low-code can work together.
Business process management software (BPMS)
BPMS is good to digitize complex business processes. However, it is a complex IT solution demanding high commitment - it’s difficult to implement, requires a specific skillset, and leans towards high code. With many BPMS you’re likely tied to a specific cloud or on-prem. While good to improve internal processes, they do not offer intuitive user experiences that today’s consumers have come to expect. You’re also limited in terms of UI, app logic, mobile capabilities or the ability to integrate with new tech like AI, OCR, cognitive services. In fact, many BPMS vendors are rushing to add low-code app dev capabilities to overcome these shortcomings. The ability to define and build a business process within an application through collaboration between business and IT and deployed as a separate, scalable application is truly what sets low-code app dev platform like Mendix apart from BPMS solutions.How does BPMS stack up against low-code automation?
Commercial off-the-shelf solutions (COTS)
Popular COTS offer pre-built templates that are good to automate only certain aspects of business. But you cannot orchestrate or automate tasks that fall outside of a given template. There is a high dependence on the vendor and customizing such solutions-especially incorporating emerging technology — is expensive and time consuming. Low-code app dev platforms enable you to rapidly deliver apps that can be customized to suit the specific needs of your business.Low-code automation is often the smarter long-term automation choice over COTS.
Automate the enterprise with a low-code platform
Process automation isn’t finite. Automating a legacy manual workflow may be a priority, but once a process is running digitally doesn’t mean it will run exactly that way forever. So, automation is both an immediate and long-term challenge.
Enterprise process automation requires a tool that helps you fix what’s broken now, anticipate needed updates down the line, and support the continuity of evolving workflows going forward.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How is Intelligent Automation different from “regular” automation?
What separates intelligent automation from traditional process automation is that it extends automation past just digitizing rote and repetitive tasks. With Intelligent Automation, the inclusion of services (like artificial intelligence and machine learning) enables solutions to recognize patterns, surface insights, and execute decisioning. Intelligent Automations enables processes to adapt in real-time, based on inputs that can range from data points as broad as language to biometrics to telemetry.
What skillset is necessary to deliver intelligent automation solutions?
The most important ingredient in successful intelligent automation projects is collaboration across different skillsets. Projects that include business domain experts in the development of solutions succeed at a higher rate because processes are much more clearly understood by all the people involved in delivering the solution. Platforms like Mendix that include sophisticated collaborative development tools foster the type of interactions necessary for these projects.
What kinds of processes are the best candidates for automation?
Any process that can be identified can be automated. In fact, tools exist that can even mine for and surface undocumented processes. Some organizations start by automating processes that increase operational efficiency internally. Others start with processes that represent customer interactions. Some examples of process automation are Complex Approval Workflows, Incident Management, and Customer Onboarding.
How does Mendix support process automation for both employees and for customers?
Many Mendix customers find that the processes that they are most interested in automating run across both employees and customers; positive customer experiences are highly correlated with positive employee experiences. For employee-facing portions of an automated process, access to all the data they need, and that data being reliable and consistent is paramount; similarly, tools that make it easy for employees to see the status of work in a complex process is key to their satisfaction. For customers, expectations are consumer-grade: being able to connect to organizations on different devices, through different methods (e.g., chatbot), and with up-to-date status and action options.
When should I use Mendix for process automation versus RPA?
Mendix application development and workflow, and RPA can be very complementary. Several Mendix customers have combined these technologies to achieve high degrees of automation and cost savings. While RPA is best for automating data entry and similar repetitive tasks, Mendix can connect to numerous core systems, model workflow outside of basic tasks, foster deeper collaboration across business experts and developers, and embed workflows is sophisticated multi-channel solutions.
When should I use Mendix for process automation versus iBPMS?
There is an overlap in the types of processes that Mendix and BPM vendors can address. Mendix customers report choosing Mendix for process automation for a few key reasons: (1) Simplicity in accessing data across a panoply of core systems, (2) ease of incorporating business domain experts (citizen developers) into enterprise process automation development, and (3) Ability to expose different pieces of a process to appropriate audiences on a variety of devices and technologies without rework.