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Challenge your approach to designing automation solutions

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In the intelligent process automation delivery lifecycle, business subject matter experts (SMEs) typically support process discovery. SMEs will support the assessment and potentially the testing and build phases. The solution designer, developer and design authority plan the solution. They do this by utilising the process definition documentation in conjunction with demonstrations and walkthroughs if available. The solution build works from the output of this design phase.

The problem

In the formal process assessment phase, there is a risk of losing crucial process information from the subject matter experts. This may lead to failures in production or an increase in business referrals. This will increase the cost of delivery and impact on the operations and development teams. Support and development costs increase by extra support and development change requests and process re-work.

Potential design solutions

1.    One of the areas that we can accelerate our delivery timescales will be by utilising process mining tools. These can provide insights into existing business processes. These insights will enable development teams to create automated solutions with new data-driven insights. This will enhance the traditional assessment methods of user interviews, process maps and documentation. Visualizing the business process will provide an accurate insight into how the users perform the process.

This has direct implications on the development backlog and minimum viable process. In practicality, the data creates workflows on how the process is performed; as opposed to how the team believe the process is performed. Combining traditional process assessment methods with data-aware design creates this holistic view. Building the right solution minimises waste and ensures that value is delivered at speed.

2.    Whilst business requirements are readily captured through the process definition documents, user requirements are not. User research, such as SME process interviews, process demonstrations or walkthroughs are not user requirements. The process design can be overly influenced by business requirements and user insight is either diluted or missed altogether. An example is a users workaround to the official process, which is an important insight but it is not documented. How can user insights be interwoven with structured business requirements? Potentially through concept testing.

Concept Testing

Concept testing is a user research method using surveys to evaluate user acceptance of a new idea. It will involve creating multiple concepts, prototypes and asking the users whether they make sense and the solution is valid and viable. Designing the solution with the process SME saves development time. By involving the SME in the design they can answer developer queries about the process. This means that the backlog of tasks has richer detail and will provide greater benefits.

What I am recommending is that in addition to static process documentation, consider how data-driven design and incorporating user requirement complement and enhance the design phase. Whilst this isn’t feasible for every feature, considering these approaches in some areas may improve the solution designs. It may also inform other features that may follow a similar design path, because of the commonalities between these items, as well as general user interface interactions and application navigation. So, if your automated solutions have a high number of change requests or a higher than expected exception rate once live, following an otherwise successful delivery process, then consider how adjustments to design through visualization can help. 

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