Passive vs. Active Process Discovery
Passive Discovery: Pain Points and Suggestions
Passive discovery is the natural starting point for any fledgling automation program. When talking to business stakeholders that have yet to utilize automation tools, there is often a large pool of ideas that are offered up that can be addressed with automation. This initial idea generation can provide many worthwhile automations that allow an automation program to get off to a great start. A pipeline built from passive discovery can grow quickly, but as is always the case, obvious automations are addressed first and quickly.
Once this flow of ideas begins to slow down, automation programs run the risk of stalling. With the low-hanging fruit already in the pipeline, new suggestions end up being smaller in scale or generally less feasible for automation. This happens naturally, because without a complete understanding of all the capabilities and tools that an automation program can bring to bear, business stakeholders are not able to identify all the automation use cases in their area. This leaves the Automation Program with the choice of developing low-ROI automations or allowing development resources to go idle. Whichever choice is made, without quality opportunities being identified, the program is likely to slow down if not shelved altogether.
Passive Discovery can provide a good initial pipeline of automations to a get program started, but active discovery is what is needed to keep an automation program operating through the long term.
Active Discovery: Looking Directly at the Work
Active discovery takes a different approach to generating automation opportunities: instead of soliciting and evaluating automation ideas from business units, an active discovery looks objectively at the work itself to identify areas where automation can make an impact. The major benefit of an active discovery is that it allows for members of the automation program to independently evaluate tasks for the automation potential. A lot of opportunities can be lost through the imperfect filter between business stakeholders and what they believe can be addressed with automation.
A major obstacle to implementing an active discovery is time investment and business impact of conducting one. This is where having a formalized methodology of discovery becomes a necessity to ensure that discovery efforts are strategic and targeted. An effective methodology can minimize business disruption, avoid unnecessary analysis, and reduce the time it takes to find qualified opportunities. Targeted discovery efforts will also allow for significant automation within a particular area of the business leading to quickly realized productivity increases into value-added activities.
As active discoveries begin to bear fruit for an automation program, evangelizing the process to other business units becomes easier and scaling the program enterprise-wide becomes more of a reality.