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ZINNOV PODCAST   |   Intelligent Automation

The PI Factor: Elevating Business Decisions

Ben Tamblyn & Teresa Fisher
Ben Tamblyn President, Corporate Communications and Brand Nintex
Teresa Fisher SharePoint Architect Quaker Houghton

~40% of companies are already leveraging Process Intelligence to accelerate their Automation programs. This technology has become an integral part of the Hyper Intelligent Automation juggernaut, especially in the last couple of years.

To discuss the nuances of this technology and how it can be leveraged to elevate business decisions, Prankur Sharma, Principal at Zinnov, had a sit down with Ben Tamblyn, President, Corporate Communications and Brand, Nintex and Teresa Fisher, SharePoint Architect, Quaker Houghton. Tune into this episode of the Hyper Intelligent Automation series to know more about Process Intelligence’s role in leapfrogging Enterprise Automation programs.


Prankur: Hello everyone and welcome back to another exciting episode of the Zinnov Podcast, Hyper Intelligent Automation series, the most revered destination to the who’s who of the global Automation industry.

I’m Prankur Sharma, Principal at Zinnov and I will be your host for today. Process Intelligence technologies such as Process Mapping, Process Mining, Task Mining have become an integral part of the Hyper Intelligent Automation juggernaut, especially in the last couple of years when we have witnessed the penetration increase from 31% to 54% across companies that have already started on their automation journey. And this is expected to just rise further and reach a massive 81% in the next two years as per a recently conducted Automation CXO survey.

Process Mapping is in fact one of the most critical building blocks of the Process Intelligence stack and almost 40% of the companies are already using the technology for their Automation programs. To shed more light on the Process Mapping technology area and it’s relevance for organizations, especially as leaders look to build resilience by leveraging their technology, we have two special guests for the episode.

It’s a pleasure to introduce our guests for the episode, Teresa Fisher, SharePoint Architect at Quaker Houghton, and Ben Tamblyn, Vice President, Corporate Communications and Brand at Nintex.

Teresa has extensive experience of building scalable solutions based on Microsoft SharePoint and related technologies. While Ben is an expert storyteller who demonstrates the human impact of technology. Welcome Teresa and Ben. Great to have you with us today.

Ben: It’s great to be here. Thanks, Prankur.

Teresa: Thanks for having us.

Prankur: So let’s dive right into the episode and hear more from Quaker Houghton has recently hopped onto the process mapping bandwagon.

What were the triggers for you to look at process mapping solutions in the first place. So we had a situation where our company was merging with another company. It was equal in size and we both had processes in place for various functionalities. And we were looking for a way to merge them and integrate to take best of both and at the same time have transparency and involvement for all the players.

Data governance team originally came to me to say, do we have anything? And Brock I was working with from Nintex suggested this tool. And it was really just about being able to have something to put all of our thoughts out there, so that we could work together to map out these processes and identify economies of scale and areas where there may be duplications and really jumping off points for other processes where are they connected to each other? And it turned out to be the exactly what we were looking.

Prankur: Got it. And another aspect that intrigued me, and I’m sure the audience will resonate with me as well, is that today the market is fairly saturated with a lot of solution providers in the broader Automation space, as well as for Process Intelligence and Process Mapping technologies as well to some degree.

And with each of them offering their own unique set of capabilities, what made you choose the Nintex flow map solutions? Were there any specific capabilities that aligned with your requirements?

Teresa: Well, for one thing, we were already using the Nintex tools to build automated solutions based on our SharePoint environment.

So that was a big selling factor. It’s like, ‘Oh, it’s also Nintex.’ We already knew how to use it. We already had the arrangement. We could get some free trials and some free training. And Nintext was a beauty with giving us the pre-training which we recorded and then we were able to reuse. And so it was really kind of a no-brainer to at least try it.

Then when we rolled it out to people to say, ‘Hey, come try it. Come to the training with us.’, everybody who used it saw the value immediately. It was very intuitive interface. It made a lot of sense. There were nice little tools where you could export it to a PDF where you could click the button and create a workflow and SharePoint, things like that.

So it was really, kind of lured us in with the free trial and that was the selling point, just being able to have our hands on it and really everyone who tried it, decided that this was the tool.

Prankur: Great. I think that speaks volume about just the capabilities of the product. Ben, this question is for you. I think you have research knowledge on the Process Intelligence solutions with extensive experience in the broader technology space. I want to understand a bit more about Process Intelligence in general. What clarity should a customer really have when they embark on their process intelligence journeys? What do you usually advocate as they initiate that program?

Ben: Look, I think the first step I think for any organization, regardless of whether they’re a large enterprise or a smaller company is just to establish a baseline of where your processes are. I think one of the biggest challenges most companies go through is just trying to work out where these processes exist.

You know, you’ve got process that exist in line of business applications, whether they be ERP or CRM system. Systems you’ve got document automation systems, you’ve got workflow and business process management platforms that you’re trying to capture information in. You’ve got RPA solutions that are perhaps embedded into parts of your organizations, but perhaps not distributed broadly across the organization.

So getting to a place where you can begin to start to create a baseline so you can actually understand, you know, I guess the Process Intelligence landscape is probably the most logical starting point. And you know, when I think about, and I mean, I use to as example as a really good one. Like when you go through an M&A, an acquisition or a merger, like Quaker Houghton did, all of those data sources, all that information, all of those areas where process exists is exponentially greater, which makes your job twice as difficult or three times as difficult.

But I think that’s the starting point, is you’ve got to work out what your baseline is and then you can begin to start to recognize that, ‘Hey, this is not just about the process of the technology, but there’s a huge amount of work that goes into ensuring that you can create an environment where people can not only understand what’s possible, but ensuring that you’ve then got a culture that’s going to allow and support for the kind of change that any organization is going to go through as they begin their sort of process intelligence journey.’

Prankur: Right. Process Intelligence is really the foundation as we can think of it, while building your automation program, in that sense.

Ben: Yeah. That’s right.

Prankur: With adopting process mapping technology or even I think in general anytechnology, when you first get started and I think throughout that process of, getting out the desired outcomes from the solution, there needs to be clear accountability and ownership. So, in Quaker Houghton’s case, who was really the owner of the technology and who I think continues to sort of govern it…is there some specific enterprise function that was owning it or was it a specific role or a person who was responsible for ensuring that you had your eyes right on the target and objectives that you wanted to achieve?

Teresa: Right. Like I said, the original request came from our Data Governance manager who actually works for the same person I do. So he is part of the Enterprise Applications team. So we as the enterprise applications team kind of took ownership of the tool and getting it implemented, and getting various players. And because I work with people across the organization, helping them with this business process automation, I kind of knew a lot of the players who should be the people that we want involved here. So I’m going to say that the Data Governance manager retained the role of stakeholder for this particular application.

And then I took on the Admin role and then our manager, our director, became like the owner of the process. And if anyone had any questions or if they were looking to say, ‘Who do I call?’, ‘Call Eric, he’s my boss.’ So it was kind of a grassroots effort, but really it was a grassroots from within IT. So it was kind of cool.

Prankur: I think ownership is one part of it. I think figuring that out, of course is one part of the problem as you get started on any of these technology adoption journeys. But with process mapping, as you were starting out or even throughout that path, what were some of the other challenges or road blocks that you faced while implementing it, or even I think currently if there were certain challenges even post-deployment that you would have faced?

Teresa: Yeah. So some things that we ran into were, for instance, the supply chain group wanted to map out all of their processes, turned into a bit of a struggle because as we said, we were merging processes, merging companies, and a lot of times we had to take a step back and have conversations first before we could do it.

So I think that the activity of mapping all this in the permit tools, kind of, gave rise to some of those conversations earlier than they would’ve taken place. And I think that was good. So, you know, the supply chain people realized that North America is almost exactly is what they’re doing in South America…Oh my gosh, we should talk to each other and, you know, we could have meetings with visuals to say, ‘Okay, well this is the process’ and then they can say, ‘Oh, well that’s not how we do it.’ And, it’s a very difficult set of conversations to redefine your business process. So having visuals is very helpful.

But the thing that was really kind of throwing these people is as we’re having the conversations and they’re saying, ‘Well no, that’s not how we do it, it needs to happen over here.’ I would just online sharing my screen, move the thing. I just move it ‘Oh, you mean like this?’

Yeah. Okay. That solves the, you know, no more argument because we just moved it. And now we can move on to the next point because that one solved. And so it was kind of a cool little process.

Prankur: Yeah, that sounds very powerful. And on that Ben, what advice do you have for the enterprises who are embarking on this journey? From your experience at Nintex helping several of your customers on adopting such solutions? How can they make the adoption process smooth and make sure that they’re getting maximum value out of this product or solution?

Ben: I mean, I think the first answer Prankur is to listen to what Teresa just said. I think she articulated so beautifully in terms of the process that Quaker Houghton went through.

I think, it’s a very, very familiar experience. I kind of look at it from three different perspectives. I think first and foremost, and to kind of outlined this as well is, you know, you first have to understand and identify your business processes. And as I said earlier, they’re in a variety of different places. And so the more you can begin to start to visualize and document those processes and do it with the people that are actually going to be involved in it. That becomes hugely powerful because not only are you creating an environment where you can begin to do a better job of managing your baseline, but you’re bringing people along for the journey as well. And that’s a critical part of the cultural transformation that’s going to have to happen as we begin to start to think about what a process intelligence culture looks like.

The second area, once you’ve actually began to start to identify and understand what those processes are is recognizing where there’s opportunities to improve them. And Teresa did a really great job of describing as she’s gathering that knowledge and understanding about how different parts of the supply chain business work with North and South America, and recognizing that it’s really just a very, very subtle shift in order to be able to get them to really understand the differences between those two things, I think it becomes really, really important.

So the more you can kind of do that monitoring, recommendation around process improvements and do them in real time as Teresa described that is a really great way of embedding this notion of continually improving your processes.

And then the third piece which I kind of think of as almost kind of running horizontal across those two areas is this notion of kind of continually providing and delivering insights. This is where you begin to start to embed real time intelligence across that Process Intelligence platform so that you can begin to identify bottlenecks, you can begin to start to really measure where there is potential and perhaps realized return on investment and you can actually begin to start to then capture some of those best practices, so that as Teresa’s team moves on from working with the supply chain group and moves into the next part of the company that’s ready to take on these new sets of challenges, you can take that knowledge and transfer it in a way that ultimately allows every single person in the organization to gain the same levels of value and success out of that work.

And when you do all of those three things you begin to start to get to a point where you are creating, in essence what we typically refer to as a system of record or a system of intelligence that you can begin to start to use very, very broadly across your organization with your big, smaller, somewhere in between.

Prankur: So what I’m hearing is it’s really a continuous process of you leveraging Process Intelligence and keep juicing out efficiencies across the organization. So it’s incredible to hear about that. We started with what were the triggers to adopt the solution. So you had certain objectives, certain sort of requirements that you wanted to meet.

What there some additional benefits that you were able to get as well that you did not maybe initially envision? You did not really have those in mind?

Teresa: Yeah. You know, one of our identified goals is to allow or to make easy this idea of continuous improvement. So we don’t want to just build it and then next year we have to review our processes and see what we can improve upon, we want to do continually improving upon and this is actually…the tool is very nice for that because it’s not like we’re creating a Visio and then put that Visio document out there and it’s got the approvals and dates. It’s a dynamic doc, you know, not even a document, it’s an application. We can have versioning control and it tells us we only have certain people who are allowed to make certain changes. But what we can do is we can say that, you know, the supply chain piece is done, we’re done with that; and over here we’ve got this raw materials procurement piece, and that’s done. Okay, well here we come. We want to integrate these two pieces and we don’t have to reinvent anything. We just kind of have to figure out how they integrate, where’s the touch points, and then it just continues. It’s just a big, long, you know, you just turn the page and the pages are connected to each other type of idea. So our idea was originally that we need some way to go in there and help these groups figure out their processes, but what we’re doing is we’re actually creating an umbrella of corporate processes and it’s very nice.

Prankur: Yeah, it’s interesting that you said… you touch upon that continuous improvement philosophy and outcome and the goals that you are chasing. Ben, I think, I know Nintex also propagates the continuous improvement culture within the organizations and across your customer.

How are you helping customers imbibe that culture? Can you share some learnings maybe around that?

Ben: Yeah, I mean, I think part of it, and I’ll sort of build a little bit on some of the things that Teresa said. I think this notion no process is static, it is continually evolving, and culture and in fact is exactly the same thing.

And if I look back, you know, if we were to go back in time just three years ago, and we look at the way in which we worked prior to February 2020, and the way in which that’s changed over the last three years, there’s been a monumental shift in terms of the processes that we use and the processes that we hold dear that ultimately allow us to run successful businesses.

And the culture that’s required and the cultural adjustments that have been required in order to be able to do that. I was chatting with an internal team yesterday on the importance of culture as we sort of think and the process of culture. And we were chatting about the fact that there was someone who had just come into a particular team at Nintex and had come in and had a real impact despite only being in the company six or seven or eight weeks.

And, you know, the way I kind of framed it up was, you know, every time we make a hiring decision, or anytime any company makes a hiring decision, that person is going to shift the culture of the company and they’re going to shift the processes that they’re involved in on a daily basis. That’s the kind of thing that we should absolutely embrace, because every time we make a new hire, every time, build or design a new process cause of a change in the economic landscape or a change in the way in which we work. Every time that happens, we get the opportunity to learn, and grow, and develop, not just as companies, but as individuals. We get to evolve our culture in a way that ultimately makes us better. A culture that makes this a more learning culture. And so that’s an incredibly powerful thing when you think about it.

And it’s incredible responsibility as well when you think about it. Someone like Teresa who’s in essence driving process across such a large organization like Quaker Houghton has this incredible impact on the cultural attributes of the company and these are the things that we sometimes sort of take for granted, but they are a critical part of not only what makes process projects successful, but they ultimately help companies and individuals inside them grow in the most profound and dynamic ways.

I think it’s fascinating. I think there’s some amazing things that happen when we begin to start to adjust and shift some of these processes. They’re far bigger than just, like you said, they’re far bigger than moving a set of diagrams on a screen or anything like that. There’s incredible, incredible value that sits behind that.

Teresa: I agree.

Prankur: Love the passion, I think Ben and Teresa, and it’s certainly great to hear your stories. I have one question for you Teresa. If you had to redo those last 12 months since you’ve been using the solution of when you actually started out on the journey, would you do something differently now that you have that experience of going and adopting it, deploying it, getting benefits out of it? Any advice you want to leave for companies who are looking to just start out at this point?

Teresa: I would get more people involved. You know, this was kind of a volunteer, ‘Hey, this is a great tool. Do you want to try it out?’ But truly, I think it should have been more of a, we’re identifying you as someone who needs to be involved in this and then come on down. And so I would’ve maybe switched it around a bit, and then more proactive as far as who are recruiting to be part of the program so that, you know, maybe not… instead of just supply chain North America, maybe we would’ve had representatives from the global organization and that would’ve been a very cool way to invent that. As it is, we kind of did each region and then figured out where they have overlays and touchpoints.

So it was maybe a little bit more work than it needed to be or maybe it wasn’t. Maybe that was the best way to do it. I don’t really know, because that’s how we did it. But yeah, I probably would do things a little bit differently if I were to do it again.

Prankur: Thank you Ben and Teresa for sharing those valuable perspectives and speaking so candidly about your experiences. Love to hear the story of adoption of the process mapping platform at Quaker Houghton and how you’ve been able to leverage it so effectively across the organization. And I think Ben your experience of helping of your customers and deploying these process intelligence technologies… is just such valuable insight that you were able to share.

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