Runaway Automation Undermines Digital Transformation Success

Automation is everywhere: In Forrester’s Q2 2021 Global Digital Process Automation Survey, 76% of respondents indicated they were driving toward end-to-end automation for most business processes. While we share this enthusiasm for automation, we have seen too many companies automate processes before they understand them. Organizations can solve — and hopefully even avoid — this problem by incorporating business users into the optimization and automation process. One way to do this is by identifying and empowering the business users in your organization who are willing and able to participate in optimization and automation efforts. Over time, these efforts result in the emergence of a new type of business user, the citizen process expert (CPE).

What Is A Citizen Process Expert And How Can They Help?

To achieve the goal of end-to-end automation, organizations need to embrace democratized business process optimization efforts. Forrester defines citizen process expertise as a set of skills of an individual — the citizen process expert. The CPE is a business user with training on basic concepts of process optimization and with access to and training in supporting tools like process mining, task mining, process documentation, and process modeling. Ideally, CPEs will have centralized support from dedicated experts in process methodology and process optimization tools. More importantly, CPEs understand the business processes that require automation. While CPEs cannot replace tradition process expertise and training, enabling and advising business users on process optimization will accelerate your organization’s efforts to drive automation at scale.

Three Signs Your Organization Is Ready For Democratized Optimization

While the case for automation is clear, very few organizations are prepared to democratize process improvement and leverage the full potential of citizen process expertise. Most organizations are just starting to embrace process optimization tools and concepts. Our research has identified three critical prerequisites for success:

  • Organizational vision. As the drive to automate business processes accelerates, the scope of the task will outstrip the resources of dedicated process optimization specialists and even dedicated automation strike teams. Addressing strategic business objectives will require extensive participation from the business in not only process optimization efforts but automation as well. Make sure business leaders understand and embrace automation efforts before you start encouraging individual business users to become CPEs. Strive for a high robotics quotient in your organization.
  • Operational integration. Once the business is on board with your strategic vision, you need to start integrating the two sides of the CPE equation. Optimization and automation are not the typical purview of most business functions. Nevertheless, as optimization and automation encompass more and more business processes, business users will need to increase their role in identifying and improving inefficient and ineffective processes.
  • Optimized tooling. If you want your business users to contribute to your optimization and automation goals, you must provide tools that are up to the job. The good news is that process optimization tools are getting more user friendly and — Forrester projects — cheaper. Once you know what you want to do and who will be doing the work, figure out which tools make sense for your organization. If you have questions, Forrester can help you build the right digital process automation (DPA), low-code, and/or robotic process automation (RPA) toolkit.

What’s Next?

If you establish a strategic vision, integrate automation and business functions, and provide your business users with appropriate tools, you’ve laid the groundwork for a successful automation strategy that leverages citizen process expertise. To learn more about Forrester’s process optimization maturity model and how you can use it to drive tangible business value, see our recent report Empower Citizen Process Experts To Optimize Your Business Processes.

Written with Zachary Stone