Celonis Execution Management System – Why Automation Is Your Greatest Ally

In every organization, no matter how big or small, there are many processes and tasks to be done every day. That is accomplished by several individuals in several teams performing a few tasks in a particular order.

Some of them are standardized and others are not. Irrespective of that, these tasks are all double-checked and when needed, fixed by another team member or team leader. This is done for several reasons ranging from fixing a badly done job to adding finesse to a job well done for quality control.

Whatever the reason, this double-checking adds an extra layer of work and causes a delay in delivering the final product. It often feels like an unavoidable step in the process.

Now there are ways to identify these delays, draw patterns and eliminate that gap altogether. It can be done by using a few disciplines of artificial intelligence.

And that is exactly what the Celonis Execution Management System promises to do for your organization. It can be deployed to the processes of a team of any size and almost any industry.

Before we get into the workings of this EMS, let’s take a look at the big picture.

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Automation and Business Organization

There is an ongoing debate that automation is one of the reasons many industries are laying their staff off. Advances in artificial intelligence are being cited as the reason for a rise in the rate of unemployment, the world over.

Those who support this school of thought often cite a scary Terminator-like scenario of a Skynet takeover where the machines rise and bend mankind to their will. This is the new-age doomsday prediction.

Now, it is true that many everyday tasks are being outsourced to machines. One branch of this is referred to as robotic process automation or RPA. This is when bots are used to make sure that routine decisions that are repeated every day with absolutely no variables in the equation are taken care of by a machine instead of a human being.

That kind of actionable intelligence is a part of RPA. But that is not the same as task mining or process mining which eventually builds towards an execution management system. More on that later.

Now, what if we told you that automation is not about replacing human beings with machines? That what it is really meant to do is using artificial intelligence to work along with humans so that productivity, regardless of the nature of the task, improves tremendously?

Now, this is not a novel idea. Many of these systems are already in place with several concepts like task mining and process mining. Let’s look at them briefly and how they lead to the idea of an execution management system, particularly the one being offered by Celonis.

For the uninitiated, task mining is essentially a technology that monitors, collects data and analyzes the work done by every team member to assess their productivity. Think of it this way. Every project has a set of team members. They are all given a series of tasks that need to be completed with a set deadline.

To make sure that each person accomplishes their individual goals for that project, the project manager or team leaders need to make sure they are able to make the best of the resources at hand.

Traditionally, these team leaders used to conduct review meetings to make sure if there were any roadblocks and would work towards ironing them out.

With task mining, all you need to do is install a software on their computers that monitors their performance. This, of course, is done with their consent for legal and ethical reasons.

The software then collects information like the number of clicks, folders accessed by the individual and the timestamps of when these events occurred. Part of this data collection also involves taking screenshots as and when they are needed. This is called user interaction data and it enables the software to keeps tabs on the team member working on that desktop without interrupting their work.

This data is then analyzed to see if targets are being met and if not, where the roadblocks are. It aims to make everyone’s life simpler and in the process also saves time by calculating a person’s productivity instead of analyzing the process itself.

When the team lead has this information, they automatically know where the problems are and can act on fixing them without having to interrupt the workflow.

Process mining, as the name suggests, is used to discover, monitor and improve the processes that are already in place. This is done by collating existing data in the IT systems like event logs. It tells you what your present capabilities are. In the industry, this is referred to as the “as is”.

Process mining is also an objective way of auditing and improving upon the existing systems. Remember that process mining is not about testing the process you have in mind aka the ideal case scenario but about processes that are already in place and can use a little finesse.

The idea behind this concept is to give your team, whatever the capacity, maximum efficiency so that you can set and achieve realistic goals. This not only keeps you in touch with the team members, their strengths and weaknesses but also helps you create flexible processes so that the organization can stay ahead of the curve.

Using process mining systems, you can assess which team member is deviating from the process or why your strategy to deliver on a certain date is not panning out. It is also an easy and efficient way to audit the set of actions from start to finish.

That way you can predict and avoid disasters before they take place. It not only saves you from losses but can potentially keep you ahead of the curve.

While both task mining and process mining can be used separately, organizations that use both in collaboration are likely to see better results. These systems free up manpower the intended way so that they can be used for high-skill tasks. That’s where execution management systems come into the picture.

So, how is process mining different from RPA? And which one is a part of the EMS? Well, the short answer is that it’s a bit of both.

  • Process mining gives you insights into the present business capacity of your processes. Meaning what kind of returns they can get you. RPA takes this information and tells you what kind of automation will help you get there. It is actionable.
  • If a team member on a project encounters a delay or deviates from the steps, process mining identifies it in time and gives you the chance to fix it before any damage is done. Now, sometimes these detours are made by employees because the process has a flaw in it.

Think of it as an unspoken shortcut among the team members. Like, everyone using one person’s code for the printer. Now, you have individual printer codes for a reason. But if they have been doing this for too long, it might not even occur to them to bring it up as a problem. But a process mining system won’t miss it.

RPA, on the other hand, jumps in much later. The automation is deployed once the process is in place. So, there is no question of a mess up because the loopholes in the process are taken care of before the bots are deployed.

  • Process mining takes system information like event logs and produces how the steps within your processes interact with each other. RPA, on the other hand, takes that graphical depiction and deploys the automation disciplines at your service.
  • Process mining enables your analysts to take its roadmap and pick the processes that are best built for automation. It basically makes the whole structure transparent.

This can be used to spot discrepancies and inconsistencies that need to be investigated further. This enables you to prevent messes that a bad RPA can create.

That’s because the AI does not pick the process that is meant to be automated. Process mining does that, you pick the process and RPA executes your choice. In fact, RPA cannot do this because it requires standardized inputs to be effective. That’s where human intelligence comes into play.

Examples of How EMS Can Help Your Organization Reach Its Full Potential

There is an inherent gap between planning and execution in every industry. That gap keeps every organization from reaching its full potential. Consider these figures, for instance.

  1. The best in the supply and delivery business have an on-time delivery rate of 98.9 percent. Impressive, right? But the industry average is only 42.5 percent.
  2. Leaders in customer services have a net promoter score of 97 whereas the industry average is only 31. Disappointing, isn’t it?
  3. The touchless invoice rate in a fully optimized company in finance and administration is over 85 percent. But the average is only 27 percent.

These are just three examples in some primary business markets and the possibilities across any business are endless. The difference between a good organizational structure and a great one lies not just in having a workable process but one that can be executed with as much ease.

It’s not enough to have a great plan, you need to be able to execute it without killing your team members. That’s what builds sustainability and eventually makes space for innovation.

Now, businesses have been optimizing these processes for a while now. But what makes one a pioneer is to increase the execution capability along with optimization.

That is done by marrying automation with human resources to remove those execution gaps. That happens because the organization is better equipped to improve precision decision-making. It’s that added finesse we talked about in the beginning.

How is this done? When you have a strategy, you have a best-case scenario that gives you the maximum profits. But when you implement that strategy, you will hit roadblocks, big and small, that will keep you from achieving maximum profit.

The processes might be working well but the execution slows down the pace of growth. This is due to a limitation in capacity, human errors, delays and general incompetence.

It could be a delay in the delivery of inventory, late payment or a credit block. These problems create a gap between your current returns and the returns from your best-case scenario. Sometimes they are fairly obvious and sometimes they are hidden. But they are almost inescapable when tasks are being done manually. These can easily be fixed by automation.

Celonis Execution Management System Overview

To remove these execution limitations that we discussed above, the Celonis EMS aims to remove team members from the equation altogether. This is done broadly by deploying these three pillars.

  1. Measure execution capacity in real-time and identifies gaps
  2. Prepares a plan to eliminate said gaps
  3. Takes intelligent action to close the gaps

How It Works

Now, the execution management system has a platform, execution instruments and execution applications.

The latter two are built on the first prong of the system which is the EMS platform. It works in sync with the transaction systems by enabling an interaction that happens in real time. The platform gives the organization its core ability to manage the execution capacity.

What does that mean? Well, it means that you can connect to any system in the network in real time without replacing anything.

Execution Instruments are the second prong of the EMS system. These instruments allow the humans overseeing the process to measure a particular team’s execution capacity and also help identify the gaps.

So, the Execution Instruments essentially conduct an in-depth analysis of the processes with 100 percent transparency. It enables a business to understand the current execution capacity but also tells you what is slowing you down.

More than 170 such instruments have been developed by Celonis alone in the past and were called process mining analytics applications.

Then comes the third prong which is the Execution Applications. This allows the personnel to manage the capacity to execute. That means the analysis has been conducted and the gaps have been identified. Now you need an application that will tell you how to intelligently close those gaps so that your business is impacted positively.

These applications are also capable of either alerting the personnel who need to deploy those solutions or do it themselves if they are routine decisions and can be automated. These are data-driven applications and were earlier called operational applications.

Celonis has some popular apps like Opportunity Management, Accounts Receivable and Celonis Accounts Payable. If you browse through the EMS Store, you will find more than 270 Execution Instruments and Applications that have been built with the best practices in mind across most major industries.

There is also Celonis Studio to consider. It is a system that makes room for stakeholders to create their own Execution Applications and Instruments. In fact, Protiviti, a Celonis partner had developed Demand Driven Material Requirements Planning Value Mining by Camelot and Controls Excellence which was released by Celonis and is now available in the studio.

To add to its core automation capabilities, not too long ago, Celonis also added Integromat which is possibly the most advanced automation system (available online) to its Execution Management System

This new add-on gives organizations an option to remove all system complexity from task automations and applications.

Case Studies

The Execution Management System is not just a concept. There are several companies, Forbes 500 ones at that, across industries that have successfully deployed the Celonis EMS to improve operations.

What Celonis Brings to the Table

Celonis has taken a two-decade-old concept like process mining and given it an entirely new approach with its Execution Management System. Celonis acquiring Integromat has played a major role in this growth but even before that, the Celonis EMS was working its magic.

But this should not be surprising considering that for a decade now, Celonis has been known for its ability to provide good process mining solutions. In terms of revenue, the company has grown to $100 million and has billion dollar aspirations.

It has been in this business of process discovery for a long time. So, it is no wonder that the company was able to break down some of the best kept secrets and create a system that can be deployed in any organizational structure.

The only thing an organization needs to do is define the parameters of the system based on their processes and landscape. And the Celonis EMS is flexible for an unlimited variety of scenarios. What makes it stand out is its ability to do root cause analysis so that the organization doesn’t just attack the symptoms but fixes the problem from bottom up.

The above examples where the EMS was used to deal with customer service should provide a good insight into the workings of the system considering each customer is almost unique.

This is extremely utilitarian for sales teams that are dealing with different parameters (or customers) every day. The EMS is also well equipped to manage changing priorities like when it comes to payables.

Delays in settlements due to late entries or pricing discrepancies can feel inevitable but really aren’t. Those must be adjusted according to human errors and corrected for future reference. That is exactly what the Celonis EMS does.

Parting Thoughts

The Celonis Execution Management System is a combination of artificial intelligence disciplines that the company has been deploying separately for many years. By combining multiple facets into one, Celonis wants every organization to take advantage of its process mining core. It has strategy, planning, management, analytics and automation. From start to finish, it covers everything that it promises to. And isn’t that the dream?

A2K Partners