Modeling for Money! Benefits of Optimizing Manual Operations

Jim   Sinur
Jim Sinur VP and Research Fellow, Aragon Research Read Author Bio || Read All Articles by Jim Sinur

You don't hear much about organizations tackling the glut of manual processes that they have.  While one can get attracted by the digital efforts that are in the headlines today, there is also great opportunity in optimizing manual processes.  The funds saved modeling here could drive funding for your digital efforts.  While it would be great to automate as many manual processes as possible, there is still low-hanging fruit in the manual process arena.  Even a fresh update of the operations manuals would do well to add benefit, but that's another topic.

There are three major ways to squeeze benefits out of crafted processes.  One is to gain consensus on the manual process.  Another is to optimize that process in its manual state.  And, finally, key portions of the manual process can be automated.

1.  Build Consensus

Quite often processes gather dust and get old.  Sometimes the same process get re-invented and implemented by individual departments, divisions, and even geographies.  Sometimes the reason for the process evaporates and the process keeps humming along, producing unneeded results.  The law of entropy applies to processes as well as machines, people, and organizations.  By spending time understanding and sharing the processes around visibly, the time investment pays off in the complete deletion of tasks or even the whole process.  Putting the light on dark corners of an organization's process really is eye-opening and may allow for some consolidation and changes that add more value and reduce costs.  $$$$

2.  Optimize the Crafted Process

Processes can always use optimization over time.  By visually presenting the existing processes, new options for tuning the process will surface during the discussions if the right tone is set and the proper rewards are stated.  Sometimes job, department, and skill boundaries can be changed to optimize the results and costs.  $$$

3.  Automate Wisely

Some processes are screaming for automation, and this is where some of the new digital options will appear to be helpful.  Maybe some of the tasks in the crafted processes could be replaced.  Maybe the whole process could use some advanced automation.  Perhaps there might be tasks available from the market to include in your processes.  A real mistake would be to try to automate 100% of the processes without some judgment.  The law of diminishing returns could play here if one is not careful.  $$$$$

Real World Results

Here are some interesting results that are pleasing to the eye:

  • A major food manufacturer broke functional silos.
  • An electronic organization increased speed 34-fold to access and execute localized processes.
  • A large oil company was able to optimize processes visually.
  • A large financial organization reduced its cost of interaction by more than five-fold.
  • A large bank stated that restructure would take half the time.

There were many more to use.

Net; Net

Not only are there hard benefits and speed increases, modeling provides a step change in ways of working while looking to find innovative ways of staying ahead with digital.  This is an essential building block for many organizations going to the new digital world.  Understanding current operations, changing operations for funding sources, and mapping the future are in the wheelhouse of modeling.

My Current Favorite Vendors to Model and Understand:(**)

IBM BlueWorks, I:vis, Q9 Elements. Interfacing Tech, Major Oak, QPR, Signavio, Software AG, Tibco, Trisotech

My Current Favorite Vendors to Automate After Understanding — physical modeling: (**)

AgilePoint, Appian, Bonitasoft, DST, EMC, IBM, ManyWho, Metasonic, Newgen, Nintex, OpenText, PNMsoft Pegasystems,  SAG, Tibco, W4,  Work Relay, XMPro

(**) There are many more players in the market that could be a favorite one day.

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Standard citation for this article:

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Jim Sinur, "Modeling for Money! Benefits of Optimizing Manual Operations" Business Rules Journal, Vol. 18, No. 1, (Jan. 2017)

About our Contributor:

Jim   Sinur
Jim Sinur VP and Research Fellow, Aragon Research

Jim Sinur is an independent consultant and thought leader in applying business process management (BPM) to innovative and intelligent business operations (IBO). His research and areas of personal experience focus on business process innovation, business modeling, business process management technology (BPMT), processes collaboration for knowledge workers, process intelligence/optimization, business policy/rule management (BRMS), and leveraging business applications in processes. Mr. Sinur was critical in creating the first Hype Cycle and Maturity Model, which have become a hallmark of Gartner analysis, along with the Magic Quadrant. He has been active in the rules, data and computing communities, helping shape direction based on practical experience. Mr. Sinur has vertical industry experience on the investment and operational sides of the insurance and financial services.

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