Legacy Automation

Technology is advancing rapidly and provides us with an opportunity to reimagine the way we work for delivering better value and experience. Unfortunately, many people still look at tools as a way to automate legacy processes for speed and cost efficiencies.

Surfing through multiple pages, numerous clicks, duplicate data entries, irrational restrictions, cryptic error messages, and finally more frustration as the job is not done to the expectations.

I am referring to some of our daily experiences, be it an online payment, or be it registering online and placing order. Some of these experiences give the impression that these companies don’t seem to understand the power of technology. And they simply have no understanding of end-user experience. Or simply they don’t care.

Let me start with an example here. The other day I tried to initiate a travel booking at work in an internal application built on a leading ERP platform. The time was around 8:30 AM. After entering all the information (going through multiple pages, duplicate entries, etc.), when I finally clicked on the SUBMIT button, there was a pop-up. The message was “You can submit requests only between 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM. Please try later.” I did not understand this logic. When I contacted the individual, who takes care of these requests, his reaction was – “You should have known it. We work from 10 AM to 6 PM”. Not satisfied with his response, I probed further. He replied, “We follow processes in our company. We have SLAs (Service Level Agreements) to measure our performance”. I understood the problem. They just configured their old legacy process in a technology tool that can do much more.

This is not unique. Many organizations fall into this trap of simply automating their legacy processes in a technology solution that has capabilities to transform the way they work. I call it – Legacy Automation. This happens in automating workflows, analytics, reports, scorecards/dashboards, etc. In one technology organization, senior leaders were used to looking at an Excel-based report prepared manually. They rolled out an enterprise tool that could generate a similar report with much more depth, real-time insights, and interactivity. But the requirement from the reporting team was to replicate the Excel-based report in the tool as-is. They ended up developing a custom report (which costed money and took time) vs. an option to use an out-of-the-box solution with better capabilities.

People don’t know what they don’t know.

Technology is advancing rapidly and provides us with an opportunity to reimagine the way we work for delivering better value and experience.

This is where I guess (integrated) roles of Business Analyst, Functional Consultant, and Technical Architect are very important. Don’t at automation as a means to just automate manual tasks ‘as-is’ (or ‘like-to-like’). Consider it as an opportunity for process transformation.