Today’s digital economy means that every company is now a technology company. And with enterprise applications now driving business at every level – from customer interaction to order and service fulfilment to billing – there’s a pressing requirement to enable business-driven automation for scale.
Clearly, the ability to innovate and quickly adapt to both business-driven and IT-driven changes is essential for business success. That’s why those enterprises looking to innovate quickly and efficiently are increasingly turning to intelligent automation because they know that their traditional manual software processes are just too costly and inefficient. However, we’re finding that those organisations working to build automation at the enterprise level face two key challenges when it comes to automating: scale and complexity.
From a scale perspective, there’s inevitably a quality concern when enterprise applications are projected to scale. Creating automated testing that covers processes within single applications won’t help speed projects and mitigate technology risk. Companies must instead look towards the end-to-end business processes that impact the business. Automation focused on driving business outcomes means companies can evolve towards managing continuous and widespread change regardless of the size of the application environment. This, in turn, smooths the move to hybrid IT models.
To achieve this, organisations need to be able to take a step back and make sure the areas they’re testing are actually targeted at achieving broader strategic goals – as well as helping to meet end user requirements.
Similarly, as enterprise landscapes continue to grow and change, so do the associated business processes and this – inevitably – leads to increased complexity. Ensuring quality and reducing the risks associated with today’s enterprise applications requires end-to-end testing of critical business processes. This also requires comprehensive testing of the wide range of connected packaged applications such as SAP ERP, mobile and web-based apps, and on-premise or hybrid cloud environments.
The first step in addressing this complexity is to is to ensure that you understand how your critical business processes work across these applications – and where you might have been potentially exposed to failure. If you don’t know exactly what your ‘as-is’ business processes are, how do you know what to test? With the complexity we just touched on, a great deal of time and manual effort goes into discovering and documenting existing business processes. Unfortunately, this documentation quickly becomes outdated and inaccurate. A similar consequence carries into the testing component — what’s the use in testing ‘old’ business processes when things are constantly changing?
Turning The Traditional Model Upside Down
Traditionally, testing has always been considered from the IT perspective. Quality teams tested based on the limited information they had about their processes, typically involving relying on time-consuming manual effort and expensive programming and scripting skills. Clearly, a problem with this approach is that it simply takes too long to develop and maintain the necessary code, costs too much to keep skilled coders on board either as staff or consultants, and doesn’t provide the end-to-end test coverage needed to manage technology risk effectively.
That’s why we’re now seeing much more focus on business-driven automated testing. Critical business processes drive strategic business outcomes, and these processes need to work continuously as designed in order to support rapid delivery and – ultimately – enable faster innovation. The focus is no longer on the individual application and the code, but on the end-to-end business processes that range from multiple packaged and custom applications to support business users. And with users now taking much more direct ownership over the applications that support their role, automation is becoming a necessity to make changes or improvements faster.
With business-driven automation, it’s not about how quickly an app can be built, but how quickly updates and changes can be deployed without business disruption. That’s why today’s large enterprises need to adopt a more business-driven approach to automation that includes management of enterprise application business processes. This approach allows companies to not only make valuable resources more productive and reduce the time to deliver value to the business, but also ensure that critical operations are undisturbed by unintended consequences of changes.
6 Key Components Of Business-Driven Automation
Applied correctly, business-driven automation can increase delivery velocity, improve the productivity of your business experts, and also ensure the quality execution of business processes after each and every change. However, to enable effective business-driven automation, organisations need to consider six key components:
Discovery – it’s essential that businesses capture and gain a deeper understanding of their actual business processes – and all their variations. Companies rely on this powerful information to drive process improvement, risk mitigation, and quality assurance.
Documentation – to drive business-driven automation at scale, organisations will need to generate and maintain up-to-date business process documentation. Companies are seeking ways to eliminate the delays typically associated with manual documentation and ensure the accuracy of documents, whether for training, compliance, auditing, or establishing best practices.
Testing – where organisations aren’t employing continuous end-to-end testing with scale in mind, they’re putting themselves at risk for lost revenue, declining stock, and a lag in innovation that today’s economy demands.
Compliance – it’s essential to be able to generate and maintain accurate business process documentation to ensure compliance. This means having to do it at scale, and that’s challenging as it’s generally the business users that hold the knowledge around these processes, and their time is expensive and documentation takes away from their core business activities.
Risk – with the continued shift towards bimodal and hybrid IT model, it’s important that the that the technology risk that comes with complexity and change across the enterprise landscape is managed proactively. Businesses can lower their technology risks with end-to-end business process testing.
Robotic Process Automation – many organisations eventually discover that offshoring and efficiency projects don’t necessarily deliver the labour and time savings originally envisaged. Replacing traditional manual efforts with automation approaches such as robotic process automation (RPA) can help drive accuracy and efficiency, and cut costs. Organisations should consider replacing human effort with digital labour, or robotic process automation (RPA).