By- Gregory North

Process Led Automation

Making Digital Transformation Work for You and Your Customers

Digital transformation is dramatically transforming the landscape of business process outsourcing.  Automating out manual work in services the way manufacturing automated assembly lines offers the prospect of reducing variation, increasing velocity, reducing cost and improving quality – all at the same time.

Picture1The “robots” here are not mechanical arms assembling autos, they are workflow tools armed with business rules automating repetitive tasks and routing the output to the next step in the process.  Where these technologies have been fully leveraged the result is processing without human intervention.

For BPO providers whose business model is to do manual work for less this represents an existential threat – but also an opportunity.  The question for the BPO industry going forward is will leaders ride this wave of change positioning themselves as automation experts or will new players leveraging cloud based automation platforms disrupt the market establishing a new model of digital services?  Whichever way it goes there is no question one word will keep coming up again and again in the lexicon of automation:  Process.

Process is key to automation success in two ways:

  1. A process is the focus of business automation.
  2. How that automation is done is also process.

Picture1The thing that is being automated is a process.  Understanding that process – its inputs, steps and outputs –the variation in how it is performed – the rules that govern how it flows – understanding all of this is key to getting automation right.  Even more important is choosing the right process to automate.  Processes selected should be ones that are strategic.  Transformation of these processes should create new capability, open new markets, take customer experience to a new level.

For digital transformation to have the full benefit it must re-imagine processes not just repair them.   Time and money invested in automating a bad process or the wrong process is waste.  Therefore, process led automation – understanding which processes to automate and designing those processes with mission success in mind – is key to success in digital transformation.

The importance of process led automation is already observable in the rapidly changing landscape of the Business Process Outsourcing industry:

  • BPO leaders emphasize importance of process in automation, highlighting their experience in managing processes and their Lean Six Sigma capability
  • New players offering automation services bundle these with process consulting skills to frame and execute automation opportunities
  • Some of the most successful examples of digital transformation to date have been BPaaS, where a business process is offered as a service or with Straight-through-processing (STP) where end-to-end design has eliminated the need for manual work.

What are the implications for companies looking to automate?

  • Take a strategic step back and ensure there is a systematic process in place for determining where and how they should invest their digital transformation dollars.
  • When selecting partners look for strong capability to assess, model, design and streamline, not just automate process.
  • For those whose portfolio includes process excellence the time is now to step up and play a leading role on the front end of digital transformation.

Picture2In this Age of Digital Business there are a dizzying array of new technologies – the Internet of Things, Big Data, Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Robot Process Automation, Blockchain and others – all vying for our attention and investments.  We know they are vitally important to our future, potential disrupters of our markets – but where to start?

At the Outsourcing Institute, we believe the right place to begin is with something we know a lot about – process.


If you would like to schedule a briefing call to learn more about how process is key to your organization’s success with digital transformation email us at



Picture3Gregory North

Principal, Digital Transformation

Outsourcing Institute