Jakob Freund is the CEO of Camunda, a software company innovating end-to-end process orchestration.
Process orchestration lies at the heart of many organizations’ business processes. It ties various process endpoints together—the people, systems and devices that power an organization. However, even the most complex coordination efforts can fail without the alignment of technical and business stakeholders.
Process automation and orchestration are often done as a means to achieve a goal—whether that’s improving customer experience or internal efficiencies, or achieving a larger-scale digital transformation. Many teams make the mistake of implementing technical solutions without checking how well they’re working for business users. Business users might also work around the “powers that be” in centralized IT organizations to implement their own solutions. This can result in process silos that don’t work for the business as a whole and automated processes that are broken or incomplete.
Before any automation and orchestration process kicks off, it’s critical to gain alignment with key stakeholders. Many organizations choose a center of excellence (CoE) model to achieve that alignment as well as provide the infrastructure, governance and frameworks necessary to be successful with process automation. Here are three of the most important steps organizations can take to achieve alignment.
A process automation proof of concept (PoC) should consist of a relatively simple process you can model with a standard specification, such as Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN). Building a process model in BPMN looks like a flowchart, so its sequence of steps is highly visual and can be easily understood by both business and technical stakeholders.
The point of a PoC is to determine whether the systems and tools you’ve chosen to run your processes will work within your environment. Are they developer-friendly and easy to use for your key stakeholders? A PoC should focus on a process for a business use case that can be modeled, executed and demonstrated within a week. You should also be able to easily measure its impact.
From there, your CoE can play the role of evangelizing the role of process automation and orchestration throughout your organization. Successful CoEs tend to have a visionary at the helm. That might be a head of automation or a technology leader who sets the vision and goals for the CoE and can market that vision effectively. This person can establish authority and trust with business stakeholders and successfully translate how a successful PoC can map to future process orchestration outcomes.
In addition, the CoE evangelist can play a role in building a community of automation practitioners—or potentially moderating a grassroots community if it already exists. This type of community can share best practices and recommendations with one another, either asynchronously through community meetings or asynchronously through online forums, newsletters, videos and more.
A big part of a successful process orchestration effort involves measuring success. That might involve measuring performance KPIs that are set out in advance or looking at how the CoE is enabling both business and technical stakeholders to implement automation. Either way, process orchestration should be considered a continuous feedback loop where stakeholders can feel free to communicate what’s working and not working for their teams and customers.
Some questions to ask your team when it comes to measurement and improvement might include:
• How are my processes performing? Are there any bottlenecks, and how can I optimize them?
• Is my process automation project on time and on budget, or am I coping with a lot of change requests?
• How many reusable components does my organization have, and how often are they reused?
• Do we have strong community growth and/or participation?
• Is the software I’m using performing as expected?
Ideally, you can use benchmarks to continually improve your processes or communicate how process automation and orchestration are helping the company track toward a certain business goal.
A key takeaway is that process orchestration and automation are ongoing efforts rather than one-and-done moments in time. Gaining IT and business stakeholder alignment requires continuous evangelism, measurement and feedback. If executed well—either by a CoE or other project automation team—your organization can fully realize the benefits of process orchestration on the path toward your digital transformation goals.
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