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What is Business Process Orchestration? 4 Essentials

Rachel Nizinski, Appian
May 11, 2023

Processes are the foundation of your organization. They lay the groundwork for how your business operates, from product development and customer service to procurement and financial operations—and everything in between. Even work that isn’t formally defined in a process is likely a part of one.

If you’ve ever tried to map or document a business process, you’ve probably learned that there’s no straightforward way to get it done. 

That’s because processes aren’t static. And the work that goes into them is fluid. The steps in your process can vary dramatically depending on the type of work being done, the information passing through them, and the worker, technology, or department that is executing the task. Luckily, business process orchestration can help. 

What is business process orchestration? How IT leaders benefit

Business process orchestration, or process orchestration, is a management approach that connects your workflows, technology, and people in end-to-end automated processes. At its core, process orchestration means automating and monitoring your workflows to ensure all parts of your process are running smoothly. 

To know where and when to apply automation—and to identify the right type of automation to apply—you need to be able to see your entire workflow from end to end. That’s why process automation platforms are the preferred tool for the job. They give you the ability to map your processes, build workflows, integrate data and automation, measure and monitor performance, and identify areas for improvement.

For example, an insurance organization might use process orchestration to manage their underwriting process. Underwriting relies on a wide array of data, technology, and teamwork.From receiving an inquiry, assigning it to an underwriter, and assessing risk to delivering a quote back to the potential customer, the process is complex. Business process orchestration can help manage and connect the underwriting process from end to end by. A strong process orchestration effort will give you a 360-degree view of the quote management workflow and faster overall quote process while also eliminating manual data entry with automation tools like robotic process automation (RPA), intelligent document processing (IDP), and artificial intelligence (AI)

Start optimizing your workflows. Get the 5 Best Practices for Workflow Orchestration eBook.

4 steps to successful process orchestration and automation.

Automation is an important part of process orchestration, but to be effective, it has to be applied at the right time, in the right place, and with the right tools. And to reach your orchestration goals, you’ll also need a complete view of your as-is processes and a way to monitor them over time. Set yourself up for success by following these four key steps to successful process orchestration: 

1. Start by measuring your “as is” process.

Monitoring and fine-tuning your workflows with automation is only possible when you know how your processes actually run. Trying to apply an improvement or fix a process problem without knowing the root cause of the issue is like trying to find a needle in a haystack: you’ll probably waste a lot of time and resources, get stuck, or find out that you’ve been looking in the wrong stack entirely. 

To get a clear picture of what’s going on with your processes, look for a process automation platform with process mining capabilities. Using data from event logs, process mining can accurately display a visual representation of your process. It can also conduct automated root cause analysis to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies and provide suggestions for why these problems are occurring. And to make sure your processes keep running smoothly, process mining has monitoring capabilities that measure dips in performance over time using dashboards and key performance indicators.

2. Prioritize data architecture.

Your teams rely on data to get things done. But this data is often scattered across different departments and systems, slowing down your workflows. Without data that is connected, accessible, and secure, you won’t be able to successfully orchestrate your business processes. 

A process automation platform with a built-in data fabric can help. Data fabric unifies data from multiple systems without complex coding or costly maintenance. It provides secure and easy access to your enterprise data and delivers a 360-degree view of your organization.

3. Use the right tools for the right job.

Hyperautomation—using a combination of automation technologies to optimize complex business processes—is becoming the go-to approach for organizations looking to get real value from automation. That’s because one-off automation solutions often fail to impact processes in a meaningful way.

Process automation platforms provide you with a complete tool set to manage every step in a process, from workflow orchestration that enables you build complex, end-to-end processes in a low-code visual interface to native automation capabilities like IDP, RPA, and business rules that provide you with the right tool to automate any process. Automation and AI create a partnership between machines and people, letting employees cut down on repetitive, manual work and customers benefit from faster, hassle-free service. 

Want to learn more about how to succeed with hyperautomation? Get the Gartner report: Gartner® Emerging Technologies and Trends Impact Radar: Hyperautomation Report.

4. Connect your people, processes, and systems.

Process efficiency has a lot of monetary value for your business, but don’t lose sight of the biggest driver for process automation: creating better experiences for all users. Many processes include collaboration between employees, partners, and customers. It’s important to keep these stakeholders integrated in your internal workflows rather than treating them as an afterthought.

Automation platforms can help by connecting people, processes, and systems in a total experience. Consider the role of tools like web portals that allow external users to securely submit and access information without requiring a log-in. Easy-to-use internal sites enable workers to quickly log and access information that helps them do their work. And mobile apps allow your employees to work from anywhere, streamlining processes that happen in the field and on the go. The possibilities for a total experience are endless, and the best automation platforms not only support these solutions, but offer them together on a single, connected platform. 

Discover the benefits and tools required to implement end-to-end process automation strategies with the Process Automation Guide.