Top-Down vs. Bottom-Up: Where to Begin Your Process Transformation Journey

Developing a deep and detailed understanding of your business processes lets you root out inefficiencies, double down on operational excellence, and make better, more informed decisions to reach your goals. But simply mining system log files misses the details in every process, while deploying consultants to map processes takes time and disrupts operations. Instead, intelligently decoding how your people and processes really work, across systems and screens, and across your entire business, is a better approach.

Capturing process intelligence to understand business processes has traditionally been tough to obtain because the methods have been manual. The drawback is that it results in static, incomplete process data. Today’s technologies, which evolved from these traditional methods, offer an automated and intelligent approach that’s both faster and captures more detail.

Here’s how process insight capture has evolved:

  • Process Mapping is the traditional, human-based route where business analysts and consultants interview and look over the shoulders of your workers. It’s slow and expensive, the sample size is limited and incomplete, and it can’t realistically cover processes across the entire organization.
  • Process Mining is a back-end, system-centric approach that captures a narrow, step-by-step workflow based on how users interact with specific systems. This method requires access to log files, which limits coverage. It also misses tasks like data collection, calculations, or other steps performed in separate applications.
  • Process Discovery is a modern alternative to mining. It tracks workflow at the UI level, no matter who performs the task or which application is used. It excels at capturing discrete sub-processes, but has trouble scaling because it ultimately requires human evaluation of the results.
  • Process Intelligence advances process discoveryby using computer vision and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to uncover actionable process insights at enterprise scale. It has the speed and coverage to capture, record, and analyze granular steps in complex use cases, plus adds intelligence to quickly identify new opportunities.

This spectrum of process insight techniques is referred to as a top-down manual approach, versus a bottom-up intelligence-driven approach. They all help you gain a better understanding of processes, but the bottom-up approach offers more granular insights, faster and across a wider range of processes. The result is more business impact in less time.

Choosing an Approach to Gathering Process Insights

If you have process insight experience, you may lean towards combining multiple approaches to address specific requirements. But if you’re tackling a project for the first time, it can be difficult to determine the best approach.

A top-down manual approach adds the perceived expertise and guidance of a team of consultants. That can be helpful but adds more cost and time by a few orders of magnitude. On the other hand, a modern bottom-up approach offers deeper insights and faster results but puts the decisions in your hands.

So, the question is, do you take a bottom-up or top-down approach?

Top-Down Misses the Detail

Top-down process mining technologies piece together a process within a single system, but since they do not capture granular user level activity, they don’t capture all the key steps of users or systems. For example, process exceptions and variations are not reliably identified because they may involve activities outside the analyzed system.

Additionally, enterprises often run hundreds of applications. Many of those—including Excel and common email clients—don’t generate usable log files. So, any use of those tools will not be captured, and the resulting process maps won’t represent the complete business process. The missed steps then aren’t included in automation efforts, resulting in costly rework once deployed.

Bottom-Up Provides More Insights and Speed

In contrast, process intelligence and process discovery technologies capture detailed user activity across all systems and tools, covering every granular step, including task interdependencies and connections. There is no need to access APIs or log files to create the process maps, which speeds the entire project, and the more complete insights keep you from automating broken or inefficient processes. Analytics can also quickly compare processes and system usage across teams and tasks.

Speed is what really separates the top-down and bottom-up approaches. You can expect to receive business value in weeks with Process Intelligence instead of months with Process Mining.

Bottom-Up
Process Intelligence
Top-Down
Process Mining
ACCURACY
Completeness
Full capture of sub-process activity and variations Limited view of end-to-end functional workflows
SCALE
People & Process Coverage
Full coverage across all systems and teams Limited coverage to systems with log files
DETAIL
Degree of Specificity
Level 5 step-by-step process and sub-process details Level 3 general workflows
SPEED
Time to Value
Weeks to deploy to desktop sensors and collect data Months to integrate back-end systems and map data
EFFICIENCY
(reduced rework)
Granular activity data is comprehensive and actionable System-only data leaves process gaps

 

Start at the Process Itself

If you are exploring process insights for the first time, Process Intelligence is the logical starting point given its more comprehensive view of operations. It offers a faster time to value, takes less IT resources since you are not integrating with APIs or capturing log files, and is substantially less expensive and disruptive than unleashing a team of consultants into your operations.

As you eventually dig deeper for process insights, Process Mining could complement Process Intelligence, however. Combining both approaches provides the most comprehensive insight on the implications of a process. Interested in how FortressIQ provides process intelligence quickly and efficiently? Read our solution brief to see how you can get started.

A Virtual Summer With FortressIQ

When we first started planning our summer internship program, there was no pandemic and thus, no social distancing requirements. Just after we kicked off the recruiting process, it was clear to us that the impact of COVID would extend into the summer and likely longer. Businesses started rescinding and canceling their internship programs, and we were seeing reports that close to 75% of summer programs were impacted, including planned remote workers. For a program like this, there are benefits for the students themselves as well as the company, especially given our size. Fortunately, we were agile enough to quickly revamp our program and deliver an entirely remote experience for our summer interns.


“All of my friend’s internships were canceled this summer, except for mine.”
— Thomas Reznik, Undergraduate Computer Science, University of Redlands


In total, we were able to bring on seven students for our premier virtual paid internship program. Because of the shift to remote work, we even have students participating from out of state. And our goals remain the same – to provide students the opportunity to learn how AI and technology applies in the real world while experiencing life at a San Francisco startup.


“At first I thought it might be a little different to work remotely, but it was no problem whatsoever after the first week of the internship. The experience is the same as working on site.”
— Mihir Patel, Graduate Software Engineering, San Jose State University


Recruiting & Onboarding
The process of recruiting students started and ended entirely online. All candidates applied digitally, and managers reviewed resumes and profiles to narrow down the list just as we do for recruiting full-time positions. Since so many companies had canceled their programs, we had a much higher volume and interest, with some candidates applying to more than one position.


“The interview process consisted of a preliminary call from recruiting, followed by a 1.5 hour zoom interview in which I spent 30 minutes talking to 3 different individuals from the customer success team. I felt super welcome throughout the interview, and I left feeling like I really wanted to join the FortressIQ team.”
— Binat Gousinov, Undergraduate Business Economics, University of California, Los Angeles 


Just as we do with our regular recruiting efforts, candidates that are selected for first-round interviews complete a phone screen with the recruiting team first and then passed along to the hiring manager for an additional phone interview. A second-round interview is completed over Zoom with the hiring manager and select team members. In total, we placed students in several departments covering customer success, data science, DevOps, security, quality assurance, and marketing.

FortressIQ welcome package for summer interns


“As I progressed through my interviews it became clear that the data science team was evaluating me on my approach to solving problems, not on what tools I knew how to use. The interview process taught me that the goal of a technical interview should be to showcase the way I think and the different techniques I use to solve problems, not necessarily whether or not I know how to use a specific tool or solve a specific problem.”
— Sam Truax, Undergraduate Applied Mathematics, University of California, Berkeley


Delivering an Online Experience
Summer internship programs offer an opportunity to learn and apply practical skills that would otherwise require the previous professional and technical experience. We wanted to make sure that even while working from home, our interns were able to get direct exposure to advanced software and programs used at FortressIQ. Working with team leaders and management, they were able to expand their knowledge and get their technical feet wet in multiple areas, including automation, functional testing, text detection, and machine learning.


“For the past three weeks I have been working on a project involving NLP [natural language processing], OCR [optical character recognition] text, and predictions. I have been working closely with my mentor and a couple of others on the data science team.”
— Seaver Dahlgreen, Undergraduate Electrical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University


This experience has granted interns the opportunity to approach problems where the solution is unknown, which is a critical skill in academics and the tech industry. In addition to hard skills, the interns have also sat in on customer and team meetings, set up informational interviews with FortressIQ staff outside of their specific departments, and gained insight into FortressIQ’s mission and goals.


“While I would prefer to be working side-by-side with the rest of the data science team in the office, the remote internship experience has been excellent. My team has made it clear what I should be working on, and I can reach out over Slack whenever I need help. The positive atmosphere at FortressIQ has also allowed me to connect with other people outside the data science team.”
— Sam Truax, Undergraduate Applied Mathematics, University of California, Berkeley


For several students, this was their first time participating in a summer internship program. Although we wanted to give them a chance to work in the heart of downtown San Francisco, adjustments were made to figure out how to provide the best remote experience possible. The managers were incredibly supportive, holding daily check-ins, weekly meetings, and encouraging participation in our intern buddy program. The buddy program was designed to give extra support in the form of a department mentor, which provided more opportunity for formal and casual virtual facetime.


“From my perspective, FortressIQ is a great place to work remotely. The communication has been smooth and well thought out.”
— Hunter VanDyke, Undergraduate Computer Science, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga


Preparing for a Digital Future
This experience is unprecedented for everyone. As businesses across the world prepare for the unknown, I’m thankful that FortressIQ was still able to offer students an opportunity to learn and grow this summer. We successfully transitioned our strong and supportive culture to a virtual platform while enabling our interns to foster relationships with the FortressIQ staff.


“Everyone I’ve spoken with is always eager to talk to me, whether it be in technical advice, life at FortressIQ, or career advice. It’s also been fun to attend some online social gatherings, including a virtual movie night as well as the weekly Zoom water cooler socials.”
— Seaver Dahlgreen, Undergraduate Electrical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University


Not only did we want to give everyone real-world experience in the B2B enterprise space, we also wanted to make it a fun and enjoyable summer for everyone. Our caring staff designed events to encourage more casual engagement, as well as created exclusive events for interns and their managers.


“Although I never met anyone face-to-face, I was able to build strong relationships and create a meaningful impact during this experience. Thank you FortressIQ!”
— Elizabeth Mitelman, Undergraduate Business and Marketing, University of San Francisco 


Over the last three months, our interns have been immersed in the exploding AI industry. Exposure to AI, tech, and startup culture has provided them with unique insights on what to expect after academia. I’m pleased to see that they’ve made such a positive impact in this short time. Their contributions to the company are known and visible, but I’m more excited to see such personal and professional growth in each of the interns. By creating such a unique environment to explore challenges and become engaged in helping us solve problems for the world’s largest companies, we were able to deliver something special with our first summer internship program.
Are you interested in career opportunities at FortressIQ? Click here to see our open positions.

Guaranteeing Privacy in a Time of Unprecedented Uncertainty

Three years ago, we founded FortressIQ with the idea that by leveraging computer vision, we could radically transform the way organizations understand their processes, thus accelerating their transformation. A little over a year later, we released our process intelligence platform, which has been deployed across Global 2000 companies in diverse industry segments. At the same time, the pace at which computer vision has been advancing is nothing short of breathtaking, but with great power (AI) comes greater responsibility. At FortressIQ, we believe that if we invest tens of thousands of hours in improving computer vision, we also have an ethical and moral responsibility to address use cases that can abuse those same advances. With that in mind, today we’re releasing Privacy Enhanced Gateway (PEG), the world’s first adaptive and learning computer vision-based firewall. And to stand unambiguous in the belief that privacy is a human right and that organizations who create technology that has the potential for abuse have an obligation to provide solutions to that abuse, we are making Privacy Enhanced Gateway a standard part of our platform at no additional cost.

With the adoption of FortressIQ across major global enterprises collectively employing over 5 million people, there’s proof in the industry that computer vision-based process intelligence can deliver unprecedented levels of information, creating an entirely new category of data and insights. The need for process intelligence has only become more critical with current workforce upheaval caused by work from home orders, global supply chain disruptions, and ongoing uncertainty. Part of our mission is to expand the usage of process intelligence to improve outcomes across the enterprise and to mitigate external forces at play. But, to attain the level of ubiquity that we’re seeking, we can’t ignore the security and privacy concerns associated with large-scale deployment of computer vision-based applications.

The scale of a challenge created by AI can only be solved with AI. This is why we took our expertise in computer vision (object detection, scene text detection, and recognition), natural language understanding, and data mining and created PEG, the world’s first learning and adaptive computer vision-based firewall.

A core component of our Process Intelligence Platform is the software-based sensors that are deployed on an end user’s desktop or laptop. These sensors tap into the video card of the machine and create a low bandwidth video of all screen activity, which streams to our cloud, where we convert the unstructured video into a structured log file. While we are HIPPA, SOC II Type 2, and ISO 27001 compliant, the idea of streaming a user’s activity (with the associated data) to our cloud, proves to be challenging.

Privacy Enhanced Gateway essentially takes some of the core AI from our platform and allows it to run at the edge under customer control. It is packaged as a virtual appliance that can be deployed on-premise or within a customer’s VPC on the cloud provider of their choice. Any sensors deployed then connect to their private gateway, which redacts all customer information from the video stream before sending the data onto us.

The core of this technology is a joint AI model which has learned the individual types of objects which compose a software screen, and the meanings of their labels and values. We can determine every control, like a drop-down list box or radio button, the label for that control, along with the data within that control. We then can redact the data leaving only the empty software screen remaining, thus alleviating the challenge of protecting sensitive data.

Using PEG, our customers get the best of both worlds. They can leverage the scale, cost savings, and rapid advancement of our cloud-based platform with the security and privacy of an on-premise deployment.

PEG takes us one step closer to unlocking the limitless potential of the global workforce by accelerating the responsible and ethical use of AI in the enterprise. We look forward to partnering with our customers to provide an unprecedented level of insights while at the same time proactively protecting the security of their data and the privacy of their employees. We’ve shown how computer vision-based AI can co-exist with privacy, and we invite other process intelligence vendors to join us in delivering responsible AI-based solutions.

Together, Humans and Software Agents Drive Enterprise Automation

“What is the calculus of innovation? The calculus of innovation is really quite simple: Knowledge drives innovation, innovation drives productivity, productivity drives economic growth.”

—William Brody, Scientist

 

 

Every company – no matter what size – knows that in order to remain competitive, you have to embrace change. Massive economic shifts tend to drive change more quickly and significantly, and this has never been more true or urgent. No matter what stage of your digital transformation journey you are in, the current environment is likely accelerating your process optimization initiatives. Additionally, the traditional emphasis on front-office activities need to be reevaluated. Most transformation programs in the last decade have focused on customer experience, but today, indicators suggest the emphasis moving forward will shift toward back-office operational excellence in departments including finance and accounting, HR, and procurement.

From the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal, much has been written about the potential permanent job loss from the drive for increased automation in the enterprise. Experts predict up to 800 million jobs worldwide could be lost to automation by 2035. Enterprise veterans know, however, that the human element will never go away – it will merely change. While these headlines spark a lot of article views, they fail to address the positive opportunities and changes we will see in the workforce as a result of innovative automation.

Improved Employee Experiences

When done properly, automation should support and complement human activity. It removes the low-value, manual and tedious tasks that consume a majority of our work hours, letting employees focus on higher-value activities. Identifying areas where employees can add value by applying their skills to more strategic work not only increases productivity, but also overall employee happiness. The shift away from manual tasks has been going on since the Industrial Revolution, and HR departments are hyper aware that retaining employees is more cost-effective. A recent study by Employee Benefits News states the average cost of losing an employee is equal to 33% of their annual salary.

Increased Need for a Human-Centric Approach

When first approaching automation projects it’s important to validate the tasks and processes identified to make sure they are good candidates for RPA. Those who have been involved in enterprise workflow programs know the golden rule that there is nothing worse than automating a bad process; it simply magnifies the inefficiency. On the flip side, automating a good process has the advantage of magnifying the efficiency. Without the use of modern discovery techniques to accurately document the current state and identify process variations, it’s very difficult to distinguish a good process from a bad one. Automated discovery tools like FortressIQ surface the insights of tasks and processes at a detailed level previously unattainable with more traditional methods. Once this data is gathered, however, it ultimately needs a human element for success. Whether internal or external, process optimization experts, business analysts, automation SMEs, developers, project managers, and others will play a crucial part in successful planning and execution.

Enabling the Citizen Developer

The future of automation will see a shift from a more traditional top-down “you must automate” approach led by management to a bottom-up “how can I be more efficient” employee-driven trend. Bots will be packaged up with standard office apps and services to increase usage across organizations. Coupled with no-code offerings this will allow anyone – no matter what department or role they have at the company – to easily automate a tedious task or portion of their job without engaging IT. Imagine if sales executives could spend less time updating CRM systems, sales operations could auto-generate pipeline reports, product managers could consolidate and group customer feature requests from various channels, the finance and accounting department could eliminate copying and pasting of PO numbers into multiple systems, and if call center and support employees could auto-fill customer ticket information, among countless other examples to make life easier for employees. Putting the power of this technology into the hands of your workforce allows them to make data-driven decisions more quickly, increasing overall corporate performance.

The future of automation will be a seamless blend of the next-generation workforce and software agents, including bots and assistive technology. Enterprises who determine how to successfully incorporate these capabilities will remain competitive and relevant. It will improve their organizations and accelerate the pace of innovation. For a jump start on your RPA efforts, check out our handy guide, “Should my Enterprise Automate That?” available here.

Announcing our $30 Million Series B to Continue the Mission of Decoding Work

“We weren’t here to code the hosts, we were here to decode the guests…”

— Bernard Lowe, Westworld S2E7

And with that line, the audience learns the true purpose of the sprawling investment in Westworld, it’s not about building the best androids, it’s about understanding humanity.  Three years ago we set out on a similar mission, to build AI that can decode work. Today we’re excited to announce a new B round investment of 30 Million dollars with new investors, Microsoft’s M12 and Tiger Global, joining our existing investors Boldstart, Eniac, Comcast and Lightspeed, to help us deliver on that mission.

Since day 1 we’ve held the belief that the key to the future of work was locked in our inability to understand its nature. Opening that lock would start us on a multi-year journey pushing the envelope on computer vision, natural language processing, and sequence modeling. Along the way we’ve assembled an incredible team that shares a similar dedication to understanding how to best integrate AI into the global workforce. We’re excited to add to that team, and welcome Tamara Steffens, from M12 to our Board of Directors. I’m sure her decades of experience working closely with enterprise customers will prove invaluable as we scale FortressIQ.

First Contact

Early last year customers got their first glimpse at what we were building, and we got to see firsthand how they could leverage the process insights that our platform could uncover. It was eye opening to say the least. Our first conversations usually revolved around automation and cost savings, but as customers became more comfortable with our data, the conversations evolved. This new category of data we could provide fueled their ability to innovate, enabling them (for the first time) to make truly data-driven decisions to guide their transformation strategies. Since then we’ve had the honor of working with some of the worlds largest companies, helping banks, retailers, insurers, and CPG companies to better understand their organizational DNA through interpreting their processes.

We were extremely surprised to find out how starved most organizations were for this type of data. While they had incredible analytics on digital journeys from their web properties, they had a much more rudimentary understanding of their internal processes. Another interesting byproduct we observed was how much simpler the decision making process was when good data was available. For me this was one of the most exciting revelations. I believe people in general want to do the right thing, it’s just sometimes very hard in the face of organization inertia. Often decisions devolve to simply appeasing whoever is yelling the loudest, the proverbial squeaky wheel getting the oil. It’s also well documented that unrepresented communities don’t advocate for themselves as forcefully in these types of situations. With data, we can minimize the impact of the loudest voice and amplify the focus on the best actions. This is a firsthand, tangible way in which we can leverage AI to reduce bias, reinforcing our mission here at FortressIQ around the responsible and ethical use of AI in the enterprise.

The Road Ahead

With this new round of capital we’ll be doubling down on our efforts to build the system of record for work. Our experience over the last year as customers have leveraged our platform has guided us to deliver new ways for them to leverage process data to improve every aspect of the employee experience, which translates to a better customer experience, and eventually the bottom line. The largest area of focus for us will center around helping our customers to achieve results from our platform even faster. With that in mind, we’ll be building specific industry, application, and workflow accelerators that can deliver instant insights from process data. We’ll also be looking to expand our partnering platform, working with domain experts across the globe to deliver externally targeted solutions based on data that would be unattainable without a process intelligence platform like ours.

I’m excited to see how customers can leverage our platform to power their transformation journeys, and grateful for the support of my team and our investors as we endeavor to decode work.

Now back to building!

Ensuring Growth and Transformation in Uncertain Times and Beyond

As the pandemic continues to challenge business and society worldwide, the natural tendency of organizations is to retreat toward familiar business models and put innovations programs on hold. It is an understandable and justifiable reaction in times of uncertainty. But, for companies that want to be prepared to thrive when we are on the other side of this crisis, it is a time for continued investments in digital transformation.

In contrast to recent disruptions that we’ve experienced, such as 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis, the global nature of the pandemic is putting significantly more strain and attention on the impact to supply chains. This will accelerate the shift in transformation programs from an emphasis on front-office activities to back-office digital operations.

Across industries, the majority of digital transformation programs in the last decade sought to address the customer experience (CX) paradigm shift as technologies put more information and control in the hands of end-users. Despite the fact that shifts in operational excellence (OX) would drive more value to the enterprise, the focus has been on addressing CX issues.

Forward-thinking leaders will examine their digital operations today to explore how they can be leveraged to enable their enterprise to be more competitive and resilient. The critical first step in achieving greater operational excellence is understanding the current state of your activities. Without situational awareness of how your company really operates, it is nearly impossible to undertake a successful transformation program.

Gaining process intelligence enables the systematic collection of data to analyze the individual steps within a business process or operational workflow. It helps an organization to identify bottlenecks and improve operational efficiency. FortressIQ’s cognitive process intelligence platform automates the discovery and analysis of workflows using computer vision, natural language processing, and machine learning. By automating previously manual activities, we capture more activity data and deliver a more comprehensive picture of operations at less cost and faster than previously possible.

Here are three areas where you can start leveraging process intelligence to accelerate your digital operations transformation and prepare your company for continued growth:

  1. Scale Your RPA Program – While companies have committed to RPA technology, a majority are failing to scale their programs beyond a handful of bots. It turns out the challenge is not programming the automation—it’s prioritizing and planning the automation. Process intelligence is ideally suited to quickly and cost-effectively address this scaling issue and help transition companies from problem solving to strategic transformation.
  2. Conduct True End-to-End Process Assessment – Enterprise application sprawl is significant and expanding with Netskope reporting the average large company today uses more than 1,000 SaaS applications. With this level of complexity, it is challenging to achieve full end-to-end process understanding of core functions. Today’s environment makes it critical for organizations to accurately understand their entire supply chain—from the procurement of raw materials through acquisition by the actual customer.
  3. Gain Unprecedented Operational Insight – Every company is striving to be more data focused and implement more data-driven decision making capacity across the enterprise. FortressIQ’s cognitive process intelligence solution delivers the capacity to ultimately map the enterprise, providing the depth and breadth of data not previously available to assess current operations and anticipate future requirements to meet corporate objectives.

While it seems easier to play defense in uncertain times—from FedEx and General Electric to Facebook and Salesforce—many massive enterprises have successfully launched in challenging financial times. Companies that continue to innovate and transform will emerge from the current crisis in a stronger and more competitive position than their industry peers.

If you’re interested in how FortressIQ is providing immediate benefits to organizations as they navigate remote work and new and changing business processes, please click here to learn more.

Changing the Game with FortressIQ & Microsoft Power Automate

Today I’m excited to kick off the next phase of our Microsoft partnership. FortressIQ + Power Automate, generally available starting today, make it possible to grow your business productivity by automating repetitive, time-consuming tasks through digital and robotic process automation. With the integration of FortressIQ and Power Automate, we provide organizations with an end-to-end solution for intelligent automation–from cognitive process intelligence to AI-enabled workflows and business insight.

Process Discovery vs Process Mining and Mapping | FortressIQ

Digital transformation can be a lot like constructing a highrise building. Starting off on a digital transformation journey can be easy, just as building the ground floor of a highrise can be easy, but the more floors you add, the more structural support you need and things quickly become complicated and can break down. Referencing a McKinsey study, a recent Forbes article, “Companies That Failed At Digital Transformation And What We Can Learn From Them,” declared that “a staggering 70% of digital transformation projects fail” because of roadblocks they encounter that cannot be overcome.

To achieve success you need a way to eliminate many of these roadblocks from popping up when you’re far down the path of a digital transformation project. One method is to gain a deep understanding of current state business operations. Various methods exist, and some are more detailed and accurate than others. So, let’s break it down.

There are 3 major methods used to gain a complete understanding of your current state that are in use today:

  1. Process Discovery
  2. Process Mining
  3. Process Mapping

 

Process Mapping

Process mapping is the human-side of establishing an ‘as-is-process.’ It’s usually performed by consultants and starts with manually measuring a business process against an organization’s larger vision to ensure that processes are aligned with a company’s core competencies, capabilities, and overarching values. Traditionally this has involved manual interviews with subject matter experts (SMEs) and is subjective based on the SME’s view of the process. Although it’s important to map out a high level process flow, at best, you capture only a couple different process iterations. And, apart from being highly subjective, it is resource intensive and expensive given the cost of consultants or business analysts to travel and perform interviews, as well as the time commitment for the SME. It can often take several weeks or months to produce results.

 

Process Mining

Process mining is a more modern method using technology to generate a high level view of a process in order to identify and examine bottlenecks. Mining tools also typically require a business analyst to label the data before algorithms can be applied. These solutions offer great visualizations of overall process timing and high level bottlenecks in the process, and work well in decoding the interactions within a single ERP system like SAP or Oracle. The biggest drawback with this approach is the need for access to log files. This method can be cost-prohibitive due to additional needs like building APIs to sync systems. It can also be much less accurate if the process involves applications such as Excel or email which do not produce log files; the actions performed by a user outside of what is in the logs are completely ignored, reducing overall process coverage.

 

Process Discovery

Taking an automated approach to process discovery is the latest generation of technology that takes a cognitive approach to learning a process. Digital process discovery uses computer vision — instead of system-generated logs — to observe and capture the process as it’s being executed by a user in real time. Using a highly scalable cloud-based platform, the data captured is translated into extremely granular time and motion studies from the processes discovered. This AI-driven approach is compatible with all systems and applications — including ERP, email, and web-based — with no integrations or APIs required. Because of the methods used in capturing the information, it delivers a 100% accurate depiction of processes and tasks. For example, you may have 40 users in a department executing the same task 35 different ways and digital process discovery can visualize these differences and calculate the length of time for each version. The insights gained from this level of detail can be used to rapidly accelerate digital transformation initiatives such as automation and RPA, process reengineering, and process documentation for compliance or auditing.

Overall, each method can compliment one another, and can be useful for digital transformation projects. However, digital process discovery offers the most complete solution and can add tremendous value by eliminating roadblocks that you may encounter on your digital transformation journey. For more information, check out our infographic on process discovery versus process mining.

Process Discovery and Automation are Value Drivers for Complementary Enterprise Solutions

Process Discovery is Essential for Automation

Enterprise organizations who are embracing new technologies such as process discovery and automation to achieve their transformation goals understand the value that these solutions bring in addressing digital challenges. Early adopters, in particular, who have overcome initial RPA deployment setbacks, and are now looking to more intelligent automation solutions understand the importance of process discovery and mining solutions and how necessary they are to maximizing the ROI of automation tools.

Gain a Competitive Advantage

Companies who have adopted these solutions for internal use should also consider how their own products and solutions could add additional value to their customers if they were process discovery and automation-friendly. This is especially relevant for software and IT services companies. The same challenge of scalable implementation encountered by companies internally when they were deploying automation will be faced by their customers as they too try to implement automation at scale.

Gartner recently published the February 2020 “Product Managers Must Use Hyperautomation to Enhance Offerings” report, which names FortressIQ as a robotic process discovery tool. According to Gartner, “within the last few years, many organizations have faced competition from digital “natives” and increasing pressure to cut costs. Automation is often key to addressing these challenges by increasing speed and efficiency while reducing costs, but the typical overly long response times from more traditional IT approaches are holding this back. Hyperautomation is about fixing these pent-up automation requirements at speed. Through excellent governance and planning by their product managers, vendors are thriving by aligning their products to this pent-up demand for quicker and more automation inside their customer organizations.” We believe that companies whose solution offerings can be configured to add increased value by complementing RPA and process tools can improve their customers’ experiences, increase ROI, and gain an advantage over competitors — a win-win.

Understanding Process Discovery 

In order for companies to tweak or adjust a product successfully, the product team needs to thoroughly understand the capabilities of the tools they’re trying to align with. FortressIQ is an enterprise platform that accelerates transformation with data-driven metrics on current state business operations. Using AI we discover, map, and document all processes and tasks executed by your workforce to deliver deep insights not achievable with other methods or tools. These insights enable companies to make better decisions about how to address complex initiatives such as automation.

Not all process discovery solutions are created equal. FortressIQ brings a cognitive, intelligent approach at enterprise scale. Our hyper-scalable solution can automatically create a rich, structured view of an organization in as little as a few weeks, with no integrations or APIs needed. As a result, automation initiatives can both scale and be extremely targeted. Additionally, the extremely granular and feature-rich data collected can be used to validate and test an organization’s overall transformation strategy.

To summarize, when companies producing enterprise software and IT services, automation vendors, and process discovery solutions all align to highlight the respective offerings, the customer wins.

Interested in learning more about cognitive process discovery from FortressIQ? Learn about our approach, or request a demo here.

Large-Scale Business Process Transformation Starts from the Top-Down

“If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Improve It.”

– Peter Drucker

Measurement and improvement – easier said than done, especially in the enterprise. When it comes to large-scale, strategic transformation, it’s also a continuous journey. Every enterprise company is in some stage of digital transformation, and there are challenges at every stage.

For the past decade, companies have been trying to make decisions with data collected from all lines of business in an effort to move the needle on a successful digital transformation initiative. Efforts to integrate departments such as finance, HR, supply chain, procurement, and marketing with various technology solutions have seen varied levels of success with ample opportunity for improvement. Individually it may be possible to collect data from different areas of the business, merge into a single place, and see what insights can be extracted, but without the right solution(s) in place, near impossible.

Several companies are in the process of standing up teams to tie data together from all lines of business into one single repository to be used for analysis and decision making. When you consider that an undertaking of this magnitude requires data from several different systems to be filtered into and stored in one place, and the IT systems and processes are constantly changing in parallel, it may be time and cost-prohibitive. In addition, the surge in popularity of automation and RPA have companies implementing bots without truly understanding the overall business impact.

Instead of shuffling data from one system to another, and trying to compile insights from disparate systems and applications, you can capture the work and tasks being executed across all applications and systems – for multiple users and with zero business interruption – using a cognitive process discovery solution. AI can be used to study, map, and deliver process information to multiple department heads so they can make data-driven decisions that improve efficiency and productivity. Additionally, automation and process improvement initiatives can move from changes to pockets of the business and expand to full departments, shared services, and centers of excellence to have the greatest effect on the company’s largest, strategic transformation initiatives. Common examples of process optimization in the enterprise often start by using AI to identify improvements to back-office systems and business processes such as finance, HR, and customer support – small changes in these areas can see huge increases in ROI and deliver quantitative results to the enterprise.

To learn more about our automated process discovery and documentation solution, you can request a demo here.