Process debt is as dangerous as technical debt

Process Debt Is Just As Dangerous As Technical Debt. Here’s Why It Matters to RPA.

If you wanted to drive from Duluth to Des Moines, you would take a straight shot south down I35. You wouldn’t go through San Diego–unless you need to stop by and give grandma a hug. A speedy direct highway will always beat even the fastest crooked road.

Robotic process automation (RPA) is basically a fast forward button for business operations, but how your operations are set up will make or break your RPA ROI. RPA can exponentially speed up tasks, but process debt, just like technical debt, must be weeded out first.

What is Process Debt?

Process debt stems from extensive and costly business processes that work together in a non-optimized, loosely connected, and inconsistent manner. In many cases, these processes involve advanced, expensive software, apps, or platforms that don’t play well together. One example might be the exotic enterprise technology than only the in-house IT guru team knows how to use. Another scenario could be your IT team trying to juggle a wide range of disparate systems and applications. How many balls can a juggler keep in the air until the whole thing comes crashing down?

Some define Process Debt as “a sub-optimal activity or process that might have short-term benefits, but generates a negative impact in the medium-long term”. This could mean too many approvals required to get something done or too many meetings that offer reports rather problem solving.

Start With A Blank Sheet of Paper

One of the challenges to identify and minimize process debt is in the details. So instead of seeing the big picture, companies focus on how to make individual processes more efficient. Instead, leaders should think about wide angle business outcomes and determine what processes are essential, and then drill down from there.

Some processes may either be outdated (legacy system dependent) or could benefit from emerging technology, such as RPA. However, if you simply choose to accelerate a single task, rather than an entire process journey, you’ll lose out on the vast potential automation has to offer.

Blinded By Technology

Many are aware of technical debt which is related to aspects of software that are no longer useful to the development process or to the maintenance of the application being developed / implemented.

While it’s important to wind down technical debt as much as possible, governance should never lose focus on the evaluation of processes that encompass the technical debt. So make sure the motor runs optimally, but a finely tuned engine won’t get you to Des Moines faster if you go through San Diego.

To Harness RPA, Get Rid of All Debt

One of the biggest mistakes enterprises make is implementing RPA in a hurried, piecemeal fashion. They accelerate separate tasks, but the overall process remains disjointed. RPA will always be limited by the underlying process health and architecture. Once these fundamental issues have been resolved (start with process mining), and RPA is then layered in, the boost in efficiency can be astronomical.

The myth that technology can do it all is dangerous. True, lasting benefits arise from multidisciplinary governance and coordination across various business teams, IT, security, and sourcing. With a comprehensive approach, organizations can avoid buyer’s remorse and instead experience higher ROI, resource alignment, and an enhanced ability to scale.

Is inefficiency holding your business back? Speak with a Process Debt / RPA expert today.

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