Developing Requirements for Business Process Automation Projects
Follow these steps for a smoother process automation implementation.
Most corporate IT projects involve some amount of business process automation, either partially or fully automating an existing manual process. Process automation could also involve building a new software system or extending an existing system to handle both new and improved processes. Some teams buy a commercial off-the-shelf package, which often requires some customization, configuration, or extension.
Whether you call it business process reengineering, business process improvement, or business process management, several requirements practices can help your process automation project mesh new systems with updated business processes.
Modeling the business processes
As always, it’s essential to make sure you’re solving the right problem first. Begin by defining the business objectives that led to someone thinking your project is worth funding. Business objectives should be quantitative and measurable so stakeholders can tell if they have been achieved.
Next, identify the tasks that users currently perform and draw a process model. You can model business processes by using process flows, activity diagrams, or swimlane diagrams. Any of the three models is a practical choice for representing users’ tasks. Users can quickly read them and point out any missing or incorrect steps, roles, or decision logic. This model of the current (as-is) process will help the stakeholders identify those process elements that are ripe for improvements and automation that will contribute to achieving the business objectives.
Changes in the current business processes often accompany the automation activity, leading to an envisioned future state of how the business will operate: the to-be processes. This analysis work is important in all automation implementations to ensure that the most critical processes are optimized and then selected for automation. You also need to understand the processes so they can be automated correctly and measure the improvements after the automation is implemented. The business analyst can then derive the necessary functional and data requirements…