Today’s digital technologies have given enterprises a way to move beyond luck and a little bit of hope when it comes to how well their business processes are serving their business goals. And these technologies are at the heart of SAP Signavio, an end-to-end solution designed to help enterprises manage business processes and enable continuous improvement programs.

In a recent ASUG webcast, "Introduction to SAP Signavio - Your Starting Point for Process Improvement," Chet Harter, Vice President of SAP Signavio Center of Excellence (CoE) at SAP, gave an overview of SAP Signavio and its core concepts and benefits, then detailing how the solution aids in SAP S/4HANA efficiency and contributes to continuous improvements.

Recalling his own experiences working on process improvement, Harter told attendees that there used to be very little data to support process improvement or performance improvement. “Sure, we might have had some KPIs that indicated we needed to make some improvements, but quite often we worked on things because we had a squeaky wheel in the organization, somebody who was screaming the loudest,” he said.

Signavio was created over 10 years ago and intended to enable business process improvement in both SAP and non-SAP environments. Its key objectives: 

  1. To reduce ERP implementation costs and risk through improved process planning
  2. To decrease process inefficiencies across organizations, and 
  3. To improve process efficacy through collaborative process design.

Measurement Matters

Business processes define how work is to be executed in order to achieve performance objectives, and they include not only the tools of applications and technology, but also the people and process inputs of data. The better a company manages their business processes, the less they have to rely on luck and hope for achieving excellent performance.

According to Harter, most enterprises have some type of continuous improvement program already in place for their processes, though some are much more formalized than others. For those not certain if their organizations have implemented continuous improvement programs, Harter advised exploring whether businesses practice Lean Six Sigma, Kaizen, or process excellence, "all methodologies for continuous improvement that SAP Signavio is equipped to facilitate,” he said.

SAP Signavio provides a formal approach to process improvement by delivering measurement: the first step in allowing for control and eventually facilitating improvement. “If you can't measure something, you can't understand it," said Harter. "And if you can't understand it, you can't control it. And if you can't control it, you can't improve it.  This [philosophy] really lends itself to getting away from the art of business process management, or the art of continuous improvement, and makes it a much more scientific and formal approach."

Specifically, SAP Signavio:

  • Assesses process health with monitoring, analysis, benchmarking, and improvement recommendations
  • Provides deep process analysis across SAP and non-SAP applications
  • Ensures collaborative process design and governance

Formal, Data-Driven

Without the formal approach and digital, data-driven capabilities of SAP Signavio, it is difficult to discern, at a granular level, how well processes are running. Certain KPIs might indicate that there is something broken in a process, but it will likely to take a lot of manual work to figure out exactly what is wrong. 

SAP Signavio approaches analysis on ongoing monitoring basis, analyzing all processes and their performance by examining transaction logs, calculating process performance indicators to help users identify the biggest opportunities for improvement, and even making recommendations on how to improve processes. 

SAP Signavio might recommend some SAP S/4HANA native capabilities, or prebuilt robotic process automation (RPA) bots, for example, to make a very quick fix to a particular process.

Past, Present, and Future States

It's not just about quick fixes in the present, either. SAP Signavio can help users determine possibilities for how to run a process in the future. The central process repository within SAP Signavio Process Manager allows for visibility of all existing, past, and future processes within a user's enterprise. “I can see how we did things a year ago before we made some significant changes,” explained Harter. “And I can also put together my future state. I can also say, 'Here is how we intend to make this change when we move to SAP S/4HANA. Here is the process flow we're going to put in place when that time comes.'”

Using Signavio gives users an opportunity to make necessary changes to prepare for a move to SAP S/4HANA by identifying future state processes, helping users to create an implementation scenario with a positive outcome. In effect, it determines improvement objectives and performance targets based on company strategy and assesses current processes and available capabilities.

“Maybe 90-95% of our processes in the future will be exactly what we did in SAP ERP Central Component (ECC), but here's that other five to 10%," Harter said. "These are where we're going to make changes. And this is where I'm going to bring together the right IT people and the right business users to say, 'How can we do this in the future?'"

SAP Signavio can also help greenfield users establish process flows using SAP best practices and/or previous system processes (in a brownfield approach) along with Signavio accelerators; the suite makes it possible to collaboratively design, evaluate, and finalize processes in accordance with objectives and improvement targets.

As SAP S/4HANA implementation progresses, users will also be able to establish a complete list of future state process models, which can then guide system configuration and other activities that involve landscape customization. After that, SAP Signavio’s collaborative capabilities can help guide the necessary change management, all the while moving an organization toward SAP Signavio’s core strength: monitoring for continuous improvement.

“Well-run companies manage operational performance by managing their business processes,” Harter told attendees. And Signavio can do the same for users' organizations, he said, by providing next-generation, digital applications for managing effective and efficient business processes and a data-driven foundation for a continuous improvement program. In addition, Signavio can significantly improve the effectiveness of users' SAP S/4HANA implementation and reduce some of the most common challenges associated with ERP implementations, Harter concluded.

For more from Harter, ASUG members can watch the entire webcast replay here.

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