SAP BTP Deep Dive on Integration

In thinking about this month’s topic, I am reminded of how quickly we explore and embrace modern technology solutions without fully considering the downstream ramifications. Typically, once we have the new capabilities up and running, we may suddenly realize that we inadvertently miscalculated the full toll that it could take on our human resources.

Are we losing our core business process understanding in light of integration and automation tools?

The unintended consequences of automation and integration enabled through tools like SAP BTP are essential to understand. It is vital that business leaders and IT developers proactively address these factors in order to avoid the loss of core business process insights, cross-functional collaborative process understanding, and the ability to adapt quickly during a critical situation when the automated process may stop working.

How is the human process knowledge base preserved?

In one scoping and planning session this year, I visited a prospective client. Many questions were asked regarding their existing solution technical landscape, their end-to-end business process details, and their team members who executed and supported the processes. We wanted to clarify their key requirements to support a workflow technical development change that we were asked to review.

The first set of questions was fundamental regarding the basics. When is this process initiated? Who approves this first step? What determines the next steps in the process? Where can you see that the process is complete? Why are some of the notifications unsent? How do I know if closing out this process step is okay?

After the typical, Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How questions, it was clear that no one knew or fully understood the process details. They were all realizing it at about the same time. “No one really remembers how this works. Bob left last year, and he pretty much handled this activity.” Bob did know the process details; however, he is now enjoying retirement.

I realized something pivotal. No one understood the process details anymore because they had become heavily reliant on automation, which helped their business grow and scale up to an entirely new revenue and customer retention level.

They had become so accustomed to the workflows, the reminders, and the automated error alerts, that they lost their foundational detailed process understanding.

In addition, the processes weren’t well documented. They struggled to find anyone left at the company who understood the full end-to-end business process details. However, they knew for sure that the current automated process wasn’t working any longer and they needed a change. As their business needs were changing, their processes had to continue to evolve to survive in a competitive landscape.

Considering the pros and cons of adapting essential business processes and driving efficiency through integration and automation tools has created an opportunity to infuse new thinking regarding how we document what we build, configure, and customize to provide a sustainable solution for growth and innovation.

As leaders, we are often asked to deploy new solutions to solve business problems quickly. We find the right talent, design what we think will solve the issue, and often fail to take the extra step to document the detailed business process flows that support the newly streamlined operational steps.

My recommendation, as you approach your next integration or automation project, remember that even in the world of AI, automation, integration, and machine learning, there is still a need to establish a strong framework to support business process documentation and governance standards. If you can require it as part of project execution deliverables, you can secure your IP for future renovations.

Kimberley Reid is VP of Digital Enterprise, SAP Solutions for Hitachi Vantara. She continues her people focused commentaries for ASUG Executive Exchange. Reid draws on everyday technology, project, people, and leadership experiences of her career. She plans a forthcoming book based on these experiences and reflections.

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