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What percentage of processes should be automated in a company?

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From this site: "Looking over the entire enterprise, only 44 percent of business processes are automated, according to survey respondents. However, IT leaders believe that automation could lead to time savings (79 percent), improved business productivity (69 percent) and direct cost savings (61 percent)."

So what percentage of processes should be automated?

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  • Boy, if that isn't a loaded question!

    I believe in automation to the greatest degree that is practical, feasible, and effective. The key is to heed the principle that "good enough is good enough" lest the law of diminishing returns cost you more than the savings you can achieve.

  • This is indeed a loaded question with a large ethical aspect, that I've been discussing with people a lot lately.

    Organizations have processes, people have jobs. The automation of a process usually means loss of jobs (despite from the consultants of the automation vendor..)

    So if everything is automated, how can people earn a living? What's the impact on society? So from a business perspective; automate as long as it benefits the performance of a process. From a social point of view; I'm a little worried about the impact.

  • A percentage suggests that a company has identified every business process that is performed, and assessed suitability for automation. The reality is that no organization knows all its processes, and the short list of those that should be automated (usually due to inefficiency or risk) is normally compiled pretty quickly.

    The percentage really becomes a calculation based on:

    how many processes have we quickly analyzed compared to how many of these processes show a reasonable ROI for automation

    Pretty meaningless, since with a decent ROI on fixing a major process we should already be working on automating it. The percentage is just a moving target.

    We should also remember that beyond a certain point it takes longer to automate processes than the ROI allows. At which time we don't just stop; instead we look at alternative tools (collaborative software, better training) to assist employees in improving process performance.

    I wrote about a quick assessment of processes a while back. It still seems pretty relevant to companies wondering about how to get started: http://www.consected.com/seven_steps_to_escaping_process_chaos

  • There is no percentage at all. If you define a quota you are hurting the business.

    Automation should be applied in repetitive tasks designed to be done independently of the circumstances and let the others to use IT to bring information such that humans can make best decisions.


  • This has a flavour of a target and we should all know how corrosive targets can be! If you start playing such % games we have lost sight of the benefits of BPM projects; they are about supporting and empowering people to do a better job. Counting up automated process and you have lost the plot!

  • The question is ambiguous and the study is inconclusive. It shows that you can prove anything with statistics and make any claim or send any message. 'Only 44 %' are automated as if it would be desirable to have more. IT leaders 'believe' what the consultants, vendors and analysts tell them. It means nothing.

    What does 'automated' actually mean? A fully automated process is a lights-out, straight-through process. When is it just automated? When it is fully prescribed and enforced? When is it partially automated? And so on and so on ...

    IMHO Customer service (internal and external) processes should be automated as little as possible to ensure that the customers receive individual service. What about the other processes you might ask. Well, there aren't any others except for the ones that manufacture something. All others are part of a customer service value stream even if the customer is an internal one. It is the individual variations that produce the higher value perceptions. A standard process just produces averages and the potential for many negative experiences. It doesn't allow a business to excel at customer service.

    Time savings, productivity and direct cost savings are all just efficiency perspectives. Does 'not automated' mean poor or inefficient processes? Thats what BPM experts claim. There is no substance to that. Efficiency is secondary to effectiveness (goal-achievement), potential, opportunity and redundancy. Standard, automated processes fail at all these other business criteria. A less efficient process that makes a customer happy is very effective and thus very efficient in the long run.

    You want to do better than the competition? Dump benchmarks and best practices and forget those standardized and automated processes. Rather use software that provides real-time transparency for process goals, lets the users perform processes as needed and guides the users through boundary rules. It really is that easy.

  • I think, anything other than where you want Human Discretion / Emotion can and should eventually be automated. Assuming of course, the cost justifies the savings, which in most cases, it does! In my world, we do Desktop Automation. Automation everything between the keyboard and screen, across one or many applications. The ROI can be staggering.

    If a human is doing something repetitive, then having the computer do it for them (from partial steps to full processes) is the way to go. It's the way it's always been and always will be in a capitalist society. Here are the top reasons as to why;

    * Humans generate errors, automation done right, does not (and it can self check other systems to detect errors as well). Errors can have multiple impacts on customers, employees, business and legal obligations
    * The analogy to using humans to do something that CAN be automated once identified is simply WASTE. Nowhere, in any business, and in our home lives, do we want waste. It's a fact of life and doesn't require a moral high ground. If you think, "how can I eliminate waste" in technology, you often think automation (and optimization) (or rewrite/redesign/buy/build)
    * The people cost to a business is in most cases, the number one cost. I don't need to point out the ramifications of driving out unnecessary cost
    * I have a customer who automated large steps in a process that allows now 50 people to do the work of 300 (Back office financial services). An annual saving of > $10m. Since the saving will be there for 10+ years, that's around $100m to the bottom line! It took 12 weeks to develop! Our customers are building 1000's of automations, all over the globe today.
    * It used to take 100 people to build 1 car. Now 1 person can build a 100 cars (figuratively speaking). Automation is life.
    Automation is just the next step of the evolution cycle. We ALL, in our personal lives and certainly business lives, every day, get annoyed when people waste our time. Our time is money. Virtually every business owner and share holder has the same goals.
    * You hire good workers and have not-so-good workers. Automation normalizes a lot of the variances (that upsets the business process/customer satisfaction scores) because you start to remove the discretion.

    At the end of the day, if you find a better way to drive to work, that saved half the fuel, you could argue, you are stealing jobs from the tanker driver, the garage owner and the oil companies but I bet, there isn't anyone here that wouldn't hesitate to drive the new way.

  • Only 1 phrase "depends on business". As francis said, it might be possible to achieve such numbers in human intensive process. Think about heavily regulated business.

    IT consultants might claim numbers, but most firms hardly make a reallistic value/ROI analysis. The firms have to ask the question, "is cost cutting our tactical/strategic option".

    Process improvement is not a single strech approach. Its continuous and requires investment initially but will definitely help. One cant decide on numbers.

  • 100%*

    (*) Percentage of processes in each business unit which are both (a) suitable for automation and (b) where such automation stands a good chance of producing benefits in one or more areas including revenue, margin, user experience, compliance, etc.

  • More than we are today ... but probably less than the consultant says we should be ...

  • As much as you can, because you are always going to fall short of what is possible.

    HOWEVER. You need to remember that Automate only comes before Simplify in the dictionary.

    Analyze, optimise, simplify.... and then you will have less to automate.

  • The process automation percentage that applies should be indicative of what makes an organization successfully deploy solutions to their business. Not all processes can or should be 100% automated. As already stated, it depends on the business.

  • Recently, I was told by a Contact Center prospect that they were not focused on cutting AHT but instead were focused on customer service (Average Handle Time is the length of time an agent spends on a phone call).

    I had to ponder this for a minute since I was pushing a reduction on AHT through automation and there were 1000's of agents. So,, I decided to make up my own Acronym of AWT (Average Wasted Time). No one could then tell me they were "not interested in cutting AWT". I was able to fairly easily argue, cutting waste allows you decide what to do with the saving. Using the saved "wasted time" on better quality conversations with the customer, cut AHT or use the time for upselling. Either way, no excuse for waste once identified.

  • In may opinion, I agree with some of the participants in that the business and the nature of the task should be considered when automating, also culture plays a big role in automation in companies in certain countries. The exact percent will be based on these factors and the effort the company places in automation

    I do not agree with the concept of 100% automation, I believe it’s practically impossible to get to that point. As you automate a process, new processes are created to maintain the automated process and as you automat that new processes, you created new processes to maintain that….

    What we create in automation is a process that can be done faster in a more control and standard way but you can never eliminate human interaction and participation…

  • Simplification and optimization should be the key element of each plan. We'd have more of the actual success stories, that aren't biased, if procrastination hadn't destroyed them to try and prove their actions were real.

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