Five ways to identify use cases for low-code/no-code process automation

In my experience driving the adoption of process automation for digital transformation across hundreds of customers around Asia, most business leaders & experts understand the benefits of process automation but all repetitively ask one question “how to identify use-cases for process automation?”. Identification of the use cases is important for multiple reasons such as:

  • Identification of multiple use cases will help you select the right processes for automation.
  • Initial success with process automation will help you pave the path for scaling process automation for holistic digital transformation at the organization level.
  • Use cases will help you evangelise low-code/no-code process automation within the organization to gain operational efficiency, improve customer experience and grow business at scale.
  • Gain maximum out of your low-code/no-code process automation investments by automating more and more manual, repetitive, and rule-based tasks.

The following section outlines some of the ways to identify use cases and may help you approach the topic based on what suits you & your situation the best.

Most businesses have an organizational structure based on functions or departments (Line of Business or LoB) such as Finance, Procurement & HR.  Each function has responsibilities for certain processes and associated KPIs though sometimes processes may span across LoB.

Reach out to business leaders and managers of respective LoB to know business challenges, missed KPIs, inefficiencies reported due to manual processes in their respective LoB. For example, let us look at some real customer problems to understand:

  • Order Fulfilment – One of the high-tech companies had the constant challenge of not meeting the monthly order fulfillment KPI. On further investigation, they found that 20% of sales orders are getting rejected during the first time creation due to quality of data and hence inefficiency.
  • Cash Flow – One of the media & entertainment companies wanted to improve cash flow and identified that manual processing of payment advice was delaying cash by a few days and in some cases by a week, impacting the monthly cash flow.
  • Customer Experience – One of the global white goods companies had an issue in overall customer support incident resolution time. They identified that downloading incidents from one portal, manual classification of incidents and then manually assigning them to the right team in another internal application was adding delay to resolution time.
  • Leave Approval – One of the animal conservation organizations had a challenge where the average leave approval time KPI was one week (5 days) resulting in poor employee engagement & experience.

Some of the quick win use cases across various LoB are listed below for reference.

Here you can leverage best practices for process automation surrounding your core business applications (apps). For example, if you are using SAP Apps such as Ariba, Business by Design, SuccessFactors, and S/4HANA, there are ready-to-use best practice automation content & accelerators (Integration, Workflow & RPA) available for you to select, modify & use as per your requirements.

As an alternative, you can shadow the business users of core business applications in your IT landscape to gain insights on how they are using core apps, how they manage work surrounding these core apps, how many manual steps they must perform to execute tasks, where all they face errors in processes and must repeat the transactions, etc.

Furthermore, evangelise low-code/no-code automation with business users of your core applications and they will not only provide insights on which processes are tedious, manual, and error-prone but will be more than willing to help automate these processes using low-code/no-code process automation.

In this approach, you gain insights by mining your systems’ data to identify process bottlenecks and areas of improvement. The data-driven approach provides you an opportunity to lead & transform end-to-end business processes, spanning multiple functions, at scale. For example – order to cash, recruit to retire, and source to pay.

With the right set of tools viz. SAP Signavio & SAP Process Automation you have an opportunity to create a stepwise continuous process improvement cycle at the organization level for running processes in an autonomous mode.

You can use SAP Signavio for process modeling, data mining, simulation & monitoring, and SAP Process Automation for low-code/no-code process automation to achieve desired outcomes & meet business objectives.

Every industry has its own unique processes which can be automated using low-code/no-code process automation. Look out for these unique processes in your business that are still manually managed (fully or partially). Let us look at some examples:

  • Automotive – Vehicle-related production update
  • Consumer Products – Trade promotions automation
  • Financial Services – Customer onboarding with KYC
  • Higher Education – Student admission & onboarding
  • Life Sciences – Pharmacovigilance data collection & entry
  • Mining – Asset lifecycle management
  • Oil & Gas – Upstream, downstream (distribution) operations
  • Professional Services – Project planning & management
  • Public Sector – Benefits & claims management
  • Telecom – Revenue assurance & billing reconciliation
  • Utilities – Customer transfers (change/update of connections)

For more information refer to this earlier blog on industry use cases.

Processes, where you see a similar pattern of manual, repetitive, rule-based work, are also a way to identify use cases for automation. Let us look at some of the patterns:

  • Human Intervention – Processes that require human intervention for notifications, approval, information gathering, exception handling, etc. For example – the purchase requisition process which requires various levels of approval outside the Procurement Apps.
  • Data Processing – Processes that require manually collecting data from users or apps or 3rd party systems and intelligently acting on that data to drive a business result. For example – Bank Statements received in an email inbox need to be manually uploaded into the ERP for reconciliation.
  • Information Orchestration – Processes that require enhancing and enriching the information with data from various systems, with or without standard programming interfaces. For example, capturing product reviews from multiple websites and sharing outliers with product managers.

What next?

Of course, there may be many processes ripe for automation in your business and now you might be having a lot of ideas and thoughts about how to identify those use cases. In my opinion, the best approach is the data-driven approach outlined above, it not only helps identify use cases but also creates a virtuous cycle of continuous improvement. Therefore, start your data-driven process automation journey today.

For more information on SAP Process Automation, please refer to the following sources: