What is Process Discovery?
In simple terms, Process Discovery is a way of figuring out how things are done within a company or organization. It involves studying and analysing the actual steps and actions taken to complete tasks and achieve goals.
Imagine you have a business where you want to know how your employees handle customer orders. Process Discovery would involve collecting information on each order, like how it was received, who worked on it, and what steps they took to fulfill it.
By studying this data, you can see the exact sequence of activities involved in processing orders, thus identify any areas where improvements can be made to make the process more efficient.
Process Discovery is about understanding how work is really done, so that organizations can make informed decisions to streamline their operations, improve productivity, and deliver better outcomes.
Process Discovery is a crucial step in business improvement efforts. Once the real-life process is revealed, organizations can compare it with that which was intended, to identify discrepancies, deviations, or areas for optimization.
By fully understanding how processes are executed, businesses can make data-driven decisions to enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and improve overall business performance.
Process Discovery is not only relevant to large companies; it is applicable to organizations of all sizes, including small and medium enterprises. The size of a company does not determine whether Process Discovery is useful; rather, it depends on the complexity and maturity of the business processes within that organization.
In fact, Process Discovery can be particularly beneficial for small companies as they often operate in dynamic environments with limited resources and face unique challenges.
Here's why Process Discovery is relevant to small companies:
Reasons to Do Process Discovery
- Process Understanding: Small companies may have informal or undocumented processes. Process Discovery helps them gain clarity on how work is performed, leading to a better understanding of their operations.
- Identifying Inefficiencies: Small companies are more susceptible to inefficiencies due to resource constraints and lack of established processes. Process Discovery can uncover bottlenecks and areas where improvements can be made to enhance productivity.
- Process Improvement: By analysing event logs and identifying process variations, small companies can optimize their workflows, eliminate redundant steps, and streamline their operations for better outcomes.
- Resource Allocation: Limited resources in small companies necessitate careful allocation. Process Discovery can reveal how resources are currently used, helping in better resource allocation and allocation of tasks.
- Compliance and Governance: Even in small companies, compliance with regulations and governance requirements is essential. Process Discovery aids in ensuring that processes adhere to compliance standards and identifies any deviations that may lead to non-compliance.
- Customer Experience: Understanding the actual processes allows small companies to better align their operations with customer needs, leading to improved customer experience and satisfaction.
- Change Management: Small companies may experience rapid growth, and Process Discovery can assist in managing organizational changes effectively by providing insights into process adaptations required to accommodate growth.
While Process Discovery can be particularly beneficial for small companies, its applicability is not limited to them. Larger organizations with complex processes can also leverage Process Discovery to gain insights into their operations, make data-driven decisions, and continuously improve their workflows.
Regardless of the company's size or maturity, Process Discovery is a valuable tool for achieving a higher level of operational efficiency and effectiveness.
How Not to Do Process Discovery
Many companies and even some consultants think it is sufficient to sit down and map out a business process on a white board or using post it notes to capture each step of a business process or to draw it out on a drawing package such as Visio. This is not sufficient as it only captures the first step of Process Discovery - The Flow.
The problem with a simple flow analysis is that it fails to capture the detail of business information capture required, interactions between different individuals or teams, and tends as a result to over-simplify the actual process needed to deliver the real business process.
One of the main reasons that process automation can fail is that the Client may not fully understand or specify to a level required to properly undertake the commissioning of the development of software.
Taking an inadequate level of a mapped process to a software developer is one of the main reasons for software failure upon implementation, and akin to signing them a blank cheque.
Intelligent Actions – 5 stages of Process Discovery
Intelligent Actions uniquely provides access to a real time workflow engine during Process Discovery. This verifies that the Process being discovered delivers the desired result as it is being captured. (Agile Discovery)
- The Flow – This is the initial stage of Process Discovery when a company maps out how they think their business process operates.
- Task Identification – In Intelligent Actions terms, a Task is an activity which has defined input, that is a series of actions that capture business information and creates a defined output. This task may also have defined contributions from several other people. The Task Flow is reviewed by one of Intelligent Actions Change Agents, to see if elements in the Flow, are individual tasks or are a number of tasks. Sometimes several sequentially mapped parts of a Flow can be combined into a single Task.
- Data – Once tasks are defined it is necessary to identify in detail what information is required and what information is created as a result of the Task being completed. Intelligent Actions captures this information as attachments to the master diagram used as the Design Specification.
- Logic – This is where the interactions of the captured workflow can be tested in real time. Using the information captured in the master diagram Intelligent Actions implements The Flow, step by step in its workflow engine, entering the required data and creating the desired output. At this point, the method used by Intelligent Actions starts to show its merit. Using their technology, the order in which tasks are processed and their interactions with other tasks, can be tested in real time.
- Exceptions – Affectionately known by Intelligent Actions engineers as the ‘headache stage’. It is a ‘What If’ review conducted on each task element, looking to see if all variants of the possible input data have been considered. As the system can be easily updated, changes can be quickly made to documentation should issues be discovered.
Grumpy Viking uses Intelligent Actions tools to facilitate Process Discovery and at the same time builds a working system so you can test the captured process logic as you Discover it.
Once the Process is fully Discovered the master diagram can be used as a proven, detailed specification for third party software development.
Alternatively Intelligent Actions will licence its workflow engine for commercial use from £1500 per year.
Get in touch today!