3 key learnings from our webinar with Bayer and what it means for your automation program

Eric Gargiulo 

Key Take-aways

  • Technology-driven process discovery is the best method to identify and prioritize processes for automation.
  • In-depth process discovery can help you scale beyond task-level automation.
  • Process cleanup is critical to scaling an automation program successfully.

The recent global crisis has been a wake-up call for businesses across the globe. It has forced companies to rethink the way they work. 

Organizations that had proactively built for business continuity, scalability, and reliability have managed to continue operations with minimal impact. Those who lack this agility are now realizing the gaps in their core processes.

If the 2008 economic recession taught us anything, it is that during any disruption, investment in innovation and better technology is a wise move. So that when the boom arrives, you’re way ahead of the competition.  

But driving process improvement at scale is difficult. Today’s enterprises run on millions of complex workstreams with little visibility into how work gets done across teams and their workplace applications. This leaves many operational leaders stuck trying to answer questions that are critical to guiding their change programs: 

  • Which processes have deviations and need to be standardized? 
  • Which processes are redundant and could be potentially eliminated? 
  • Which processes are no longer required because of new technology? 
  • Which processes should we automate? How do we create a business case? 
  • Do my teams have the right tools? Are they able to collaborate and use them effectively?  

For the past five years, we’ve had the great fortune of working closely with some of the largest companies in the world. And regardless of industry or function, these same questions exist in every organization.  

One such example is Bayer, a leading global pharmaceutical company. When we first partnered, they were struggling with these questions. Manual process discovery wasn’t cutting it, and they were seeking a technology-based way to understand process performance and identify automation opportunities within the Supply Chain function of their Consumer Health division.  

Last week, we had the opportunity to dive deep into Bayer’s journey with their VP of Digital Transformation and IT for Product Supply, Galina Gray. As part of the webinar, we engaged with our audience to understand how their journey aligns with Bayer’s. Here’s what we learned. 

Three learnings from the webinar: by the numbers 

We kicked off the webinar with a few questions for our audience to better understand the current state of affairs with their programs: 

  • How do you identify and prioritize processes for automation?  
  • Have you successfully scaled beyond task-level automation? 
  • What do you think is key to scaling an automation program?  

It was an insightful exercise and one that reflects conversations we’ve had with organizations across industry. While programs exist at different stages of maturity, there is still significant opportunity to scale the impact of automation within the enterprise.

Image source: How to get more value from your automation program: Bayer’s process transformation story

Despite new school tech, many still rely on old school process discovery  

76% of the participants still rely on manual approaches to identify and prioritize candidates for automation.

While this was the go-to approach for many years, manual discovery cannot provide the breadth of insight necessary to understand the details of how work gets done across large, cross-functional teams. Interviews, stop watches, and spreadsheets are inherently not scalable. And due to the high degree of human intervention, this method is also prone to errors and biases.

The fix: Technology is the optimal way to do process discovery at scale. The ideal solution should be able to provide a comprehensive view of how work gets done across all teams, all applications, and all geographies. These insights create the baseline for you to build relevant automation initiatives and measure their business value. 

Image source: How to get more value from your automation program: Bayer’s process transformation story

Automating tasks is fogging the vision of a larger end-to-end picture 

86% of the participants are still focused on task-level automation or trying to achieve scale by connecting multiple bots. 

Small tasks are easy wins and a great place to get started. However, disconnected islands of automation that do not connect the process end-to-end are limited in terms of program efficiency and impact. They create isolated points of value but fail to deliver on your bigger business objectives. In the end, you are left with disjointed initiatives and piecemeal solutions. 

The fix: An integrated automation journey guided by process discovery is the answer. Business processes include multiple workstreams that are governed by complex rules and inputs.  The key here is connecting these workstreams and identifying the right tools to handle them. By analyzing how work is performed across teams, you can identify opportunities that extend far beyond individual tasks. 

Image source: How to get more value from your automation program: Bayer’s process transformation story

Fixing broken processes is the first step to building automation at scale 

53% of the participants believe that the key to scaling a program is cleaning up processes before automation. 

As they say, ‘garbage in, garbage out.’ Tasking a bot to perform a broken process is at best a band-aid and more likely a recipe for failure. Getting process cleanup right starts with a clear understanding of your processes and their variations. Without this insight, it becomes a guessing game on where to focus and what improvement approach to take. 

The fix: A process discovery tool that identifies process variations and improvement opportunities can guide redesign efforts. For example, helping you understand if a process should be automated as-is or after cleanup. In our experience, this basic hygiene exercise can account for 50% of the impact of automation before a single line of code is written. 

Image source: How to get more value from your automation program: Bayer’s process transformation story

Bringing it all together 

The path to scaling the impact of your program starts with technology-driven process discovery. It’s the first step to understanding your processes and prioritizing the best candidates for automation. Also, it is the only way to connect small tasks into larger team workflows where the real value potential and change impact exists. Finally, it helps you determine what measures should be taken before automation to make it a success. 

Put simply, think discovery first.

Learn more about process transformation from a real game-changer 

While these are some of the interesting learnings from the webinar, there is much more to Bayer’s impressive transformation story. If you want to know more, watch the on-demand version of our webinar here

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