Mind the Gap: Why True Business Process Optimization Needs Process Design 

Mind the Gap: Why True Business Process Optimization Needs Process Design 
Shoeb Javed, iGrafx CPO

Shoeb Javed

Chief Product Officer

By iGrafx Chief Product Officer, Shoeb Javed 


It’s no secret that in today’s competitive business environment, carrying on with a “business-as-usual” approach isn’t enough. Businesses today face a new set of challenges. They are under increasing market pressure to enhance customer satisfaction, boost performance, and deliver on the promise of truly streamlined, truly digital offerings. 

To develop a competitive edge, many businesses are adopting data-driven decision-making. Process intelligence and data mining tools have surged in popularity as companies try to gain a better understanding of their own processes. At the same time, companies are using process automation to reduce costs, simplify their business processes, and improve efficiency.  

In principle, this approach makes sense: Use process intelligence to understand what’s happening and process automation to simplify and streamline operations.   

In practice, however, as businesses worldwide adopt these solutions, one fact is becoming increasingly clear: The usefulness of intelligence and automation as standalone solutions is limited. 

Process intelligence on its own fails to spur meaningful change. Likewise, automation that isn’t tied to the day-to-day changes in how you do business fails to deliver real value.  

This disconnect has led many business process software vendors to try and create a more holistic offering, one that directly joins the two halves to create a synergistic product. 

From mining to automation 

Instead of the historical approach where vendors typically focused on either process and task mining or automation, many are now taking steps to acquire the piece of the offering they don’t have. 

Process automation companies, therefore, are now branching out into process intelligence and mining. Similarly, mining companies are jumping on the automation bandwagon. This is a step forward, but the truth is that directly combining these pieces doesn’t solve the optimization puzzle.  

There’s something vital missing from the middle. 

A problem in process 

The challenge that arises when process automation and intelligence are directly coupled (or applied independently) is that it’s impossible to refine and improve processes in real-time. In other words, you still don’t get continuous improvements

Consider the example of a company mapping out its processes with mining. The company has identified some of its big roadblocks and found some good candidate processes for automation. It takes what has been learned, applies the automation piece, and waits for the massive gain in productivity. 

And yes, most likely, there is some improvement – maybe even a big improvement in operations. 

But over time, things change. Processes evolve. The company’s strategic and tactical direction changes, and its installed system isn’t quite hitting the mark anymore. Some people have gone back to doing things “the old way” because it’s easier than trying to map new processes to the existing system. 

The problem is that they’re trying to fit new decisions and frameworks over a static model – a snapshot of what their company was doing before. 

As a result, the two sides, intelligence and automation, aren’t coming together into a cohesive and mutually reinforcing system. What is missing is the continuous refinement and improvement provided by a third piece: process design. 

Better by design 

The idea behind business process design is that to make lasting improvements, you need to understand what’s happening in your processes on an ongoing basis. That means monitoring business processes in real-time, reviewing performance and outcomes, and proactively refining and improving your processes.  

The design piece, therefore, sits between intelligence and automation. It provides a bridge that continuously maps process outcomes and the value achieved by any changes. 

This transforms a largely static system into a dynamic one. As the company grows and changes, processes adapt. New processes are designed as needed and continuously monitored to ensure their efficacy. 

Better still, by incorporating predictive analytics and process simulation, it becomes possible to make decisions based on what you anticipate happening in the future. These capabilities add to the process intelligence piece and work with process design. The result is true operational intelligence that combines data on past processes with forward-looking predictive capabilities. 

For companies, this approach to process optimization means they are no longer reacting to what has changed. Instead, they can plan their strategy and processes to meet incoming needs. 

Building business value 

Let’s return to our example of a company trying to improve its productivity and processes but now adding the design and operational intelligence pieces.  

Access to data about ongoing processes opens up a new set of opportunities for the business. For starters, it allows the company to monitor customer or client journeys and make process improvements to ensure a better customer experience. Not next week or next year, but daily. 

If the company is in an industry that requires it to meet stringent compliance and regulatory standards, for example, healthcare, there are additional benefits. It can now monitor its compliance in real-time, document and manage risk, and adjust its operations accordingly. 

Ongoing process improvements also empower the business to ramp up capacity and ensure its resources are efficiently used. By coordinating processes across offices and divisions, for example, there is huge potential to streamline operations and improve cost efficiency – potentially by hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Mind the gap 

The key point is that process design works with the other two pieces to enable these benefits. It takes the full trio of operational intelligence, process design, and automation, delivered through a platform that focuses on the complete process lifecycle, to achieve true process optimization.   

Without that, companies end up with a temporary solution, something that might boost business in the short term but fails to deliver on the true promise of ongoing process improvement and digital transformation. 

In today’s on-demand, digitally driven world, that shortfall can make a huge difference – the difference between a company with the agility to respond to the market and one that risks falling behind its competition.


Interested in learning more about process design and iGrafx’s process optimization solutions? See our Process360 Live product page or contact us for a free trial. 

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