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November 2010 Volume 5

Business process automation for the business' sake

When Ed Bell was dispatched as a consultant to the commonwealth of Massachusetts' Senate and House of Representatives, the gig was to last four to six weeks, and his mission was fairly straightforward.  Ed Bell A veteran CIO from the financial services industry, Bell had been asked to assess a failed business process automation project to streamline the work of the legislature and point the way forward. "When I evaluated it, the platform they had then was not good, but they could limp along with it. I said, 'Let's step back. Let's figure out what we really want to get out it, and re-engineer the whole thing,'" recalled Bell, who was named interim CIO for Massachusetts shortly after taking the assignment. "My point was that they were going to have to spend money on this either way. Do it right. Don't settle." Business process automation (BPA) is king in IT shops for good reason -- it saves money, cuts redundancies and enforces a fluid, repeatable workflow. But automation for automation's sake? That's a recipe for failure, say ...

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