Is business analysis automation worth the investment?
Automation is almost always a good investment.
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However, business analysis requires a great deal of insight and high-level strategic thinking – after all, it’s not a linear process.
When most of us think of automation, on the other hand, we tend to think of low-level, repetitive activities that require little human input. With the introduction of intelligent automation, cognitive automation, and other high-level capabilities, this is changing, and it is also adding automation to business analysis activities.
Below will examine business analysis automation and whether it is a profitable investment for enterprise professionals.
What Is Business Analysis?
Business analysis is a discipline that aims to identify problems within an organization, devise solutions to those problems, and work with leaders to implement those solutions.
The tools and techniques used in business analysis include:
- Business process modeling
- Business process model notation
- Process mining
- Business automation
The end result of business analysis is often organizational change, either large or small. The information gleaned from an analysis can be used to guide structural changes, cultural changes, and many other types of organizational changes.
Business analysis includes steps such as:
- Data collection
- Identifying stakeholders
- Defining objectives, scope, and requirements
- Analysis of problems
- Identification of solutions
- Creating a change plan
- Guiding the organizational change
Organizational changes often address problems by reducing inefficiencies, improving organizational productivity, increasing employee output, and otherwise addressing specific problems.
As with any other business discipline, business analysis has its own set of standards and methods and techniques. It is a well established discipline and a job role that has existed for quite a while – yet, like any other discipline, it is being affected by automation.
Business Analysis Automation Tools
Automation has entered every area of the workplace, including the field of business analysis. As mentioned, however, most automation we think of tends to focus on linear tasks that do not require a great deal of cognitive input.
So where does automation fit into business analysis?
Given the complexity of the business analysis function, automation cannot replace the entire job role, but automation can boost business analysts’ productivity by offering insights, increasing productivity, and more.
Here are a few examples of tools that can enhance the process of business analysis:
- Process mining tools. Process mining compares business processes as they are to processes as they should be. These tools usually analyze performance logs in order to better understand backend processes in the organization. That information can then be used to improve processes, their outcomes, and the efficiency a business analysis function.
- Software analytics. Tools such as digital adoption platforms can analyze software interactions. An organization that wants to better understand workflows can use a digital adoption platform to analyze how its digital software is used. This information can then be used to streamline, simplify, and enhance workflows. The results include reduced costs, improved employee productivity, and more.
- BPMS. A BPMS tool is designed specifically for business process management. The features will vary from tool to tool. But the overall function remains the same: managing and improving business processes.
- Project management tools. Although project management tools are not considered business analysis tools per say, they actually can offer a great deal of insight. Tools such as JIRA for instance, allow managers to log time, track employee productivity, and gain a better understanding of the business processes.
In short, tools such as these can dramatically improve business analysis. They can also be used to automate functions that would otherwise be performed manually, saving a great deal of time and effort.
But can they replace a business analyst entirely?
Pros and Cons of Automated Business Analysis
Automation has its pros and cons, regardless of where it is applied in the organization. In business analysis or any other function, business process automation can improve certain functions, but not all of them. As with any other technology, it has both benefits and potential drawbacks – if it is not used appropriately.
The benefits of automation in business analysis include:
- Increased employee productivity
- Decreased errors
- Improved efficiency
- Lower costs
On the other hand, there are drawbacks of automation.
- Automated tools cannot think and they require human supervision
- Too much automation can result in errors and oversights
- High-level automation solutions can be very costly and implementations are not always successful
Deploying an automation solution, in short, is not a once-and-done proposal. Also, automation tools cannot completely replace business analysts – automation is an investment that requires preparation and continual management.
That being said, the ROI of automation can be significant.
Any organization interested in enhancing its processes should consider automated business analysis.
Today, the business landscape is changing more rapidly than ever. Digital disruptions and crises such as COVID-19 or financial crises can cause significant disruption to a business.
To adapt organizations must find new means of staying resilient and profitable.
Software is one of the best ways to do that: software is less costly than human labor, it is more efficient and makes fewer errors, and it can even result in new capabilities that weren’t possible just a few short years ago.
Business analysis automation, as we have seen, is one example of a software that can radically enhance business performance.
Used appropriately, it can help business analysts gain more insight more quickly into an organization’s operations.
With the right approach, automated business analysis can generate significant bottom-line benefits for the organization itself.