Process Debt


What is Process Debt?

Why is it important for your business operations? 

Process debt is the result of implementing a process tactically to overcome an issue such as a change in working practices, a lack of system functionality or a disconnect between a job role function and the ability of the system or application to deliver the outcome required. 

Overtime process debt slows systems and applications down, creates inefficiencies, reduce organisational effectiveness and decreases value. 

This is instead of investing in a more difficult strategic solution that delivers a ‘best for purpose’ process that is fully aligned with the defined operational and business strategy and is current and up to date to user and customer requirements many processes are outdated, drain resources and do not function. 

The Curse of the Workarounds 

Process debt is typically found in ‘workarounds’ which are short term fixes that users implement within the process flow and create process debt. The workarounds tend to operate individually rather than holistically with any reference to the process ecosystem or the actual outcome that needs to be achieved by the host organisation. 

Not only can this lead to both upstream and downstream friction and resource misalignment it can also subvert compliance regimes and invalidate the internal documented and defined processes. 

Functional ‘Fixing’ 

Historically, improvement options have been limited either to functional enhancements called CEMLI’s (Configuration, Extension, Modification, Localization, and Integration) or upgrading the underlying technology to make the application work faster.  

CEMLI’s attempt to circumvent some of the functional gaps that typically replace workarounds when the system does not meet user requirements. Whilst this helps with usability and functionality it makes it much harder to upgrade or move to later versions of the software or migrate to the cloud. 

The costs of the enhancements are generally high as expensive Application Functional Consultants are required and therefore more technical debt is baked into the currently used software version.  

Technology ‘Fixing’ 

The other alternative is using technology to paper over the cracks and improves the user experience by delivering more processing power, moving to virtualisation, implementing High Availability and Disaster Recovery to ensure uptime and using partitioning and segregation of storage to speed up query data and responses. However, these technical upgrades can only deliver benefit so far and limitations of software versions and hardware can create a Technical Ceiling ‘where none shall pass’ until fully patched or upgraded. Hence the reason many organisations stay where they are. 

All of this over time creates a ‘Hair Ball’ of interdependencies, overlapping and sometimes conflicting processes, workarounds, individualised ways of working and layer upon layer of customisations that build up over years. 

Eventually, very few people understand what the customisations do and if they are even needed. This then slows the system down, makes it difficult to use and the user and customer experience suffers. All the while the costs are mounting as further CEMLI and Systems resources with maintenance is required. 

Application Process Tuning Services 

So how do organisations break the cycle of declining value in their enterprise applications estate and instead unlock previously undiscovered potential?

ONQU deliver Process and Task Mining services that enable an organisation to explore and model how their business processes are functioning in relation to their enterprise applications.  

The elegance of the service is that all enterprise applications capture and store every interaction, work item, item ID and user as data. This data can be turned into valuable process modelling information that will enable an organisation to: 

  • Simply and quickly pinpoint the root cause of non-compliant, unusual or high-cost processes.
  • Rapidly reveal how every occurrence of every process is executed including even the most ad-hoc, variable workflows.
  • Easily identify, quantify and target the highest impact processes for digital transformation or automation initiatives. 

As an example, here is an insurance process using a claims system. In this case we are tracking the claim assignment and flow: 

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The thickness of the lines denotes volume transactions and highlights where issues arise such as friction or workarounds. Everything can be tracked using the Unique ID and qualified with timings and function.  

Once identified and captured the data can be used to create a process model and changes can be applied to test theories, identify low hanging fruit for quick changes and adapt processes to remove waste and bring the smiles back to the users. As an additional benefit part of the processes that are ripe for automation are easily identified leading to further improvements in functionality and cost savings using RPA. 

For further information on ONQU Process Tuning Services please contact Jim Brown at or visit 

About ONQU Automation

ONQU Automation is a specialist delivery partner for UiPath Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Process Mining and ABBYY Intelligent Document Solutions.

 Operating from a Head Office in Birmingham (UK) and with bases in London (UK) for automation and Kerala (India) for managed RPA, Oracle services and support, ONQU delivers a wide range of discovery, consultancy and support services for whatever stage of the automation or support journey organisations are on.


Accurate Process Mapping

Traditional process capture and mapping relied on manual task, out dated documentation and subjective data.

Process mining uses accurate systems data.

Make Fact Based Decisions

Data is king and accurate data turns business decision making from an art form to a measurable, accurate and positive value driven exercise . Let your managers and executives decide with facts.

Increase Process Efficiency

Significantly ibcrease the effeciency of your processes and internal work functions. Process Mining will help you deliver value faster through process excellence.

Real Life Process View

Once the systems data has been captured an interrogated a real world, real life functional map can be created and reviewed.

A working model shows where there is process friction, lack of productivity and compliance.

Improve Worker Interaction

With data mining you can identify where your workers can spend the most productive time and where they don’t need to get involved. Free them from the drudgery of data tasks.

Cloud or Onsite

As with any modern technology your business can operate process mining in the cloud or within your own datacentre. This allows to manage resoruces more effectively so you can start smll and scale with success.

Significant Time Saving

Process Mining  delivers a full understanding and comprehensive ovewrview of the prcesses that exist within your organisation. No longer do process reviews take months of interviews and long documentation reviews.

Improve Customer Service

Free your customer services team from undertaking processes that don’t require human attention or interaction. Remove processes that don’t add customer value. 

Create Value

As with any investment the proposed outcome must be measured, monitored and compared. Because a process can be isolated then modelled chnages to the process or when automated can demostratre accuratley how much value has been achieved. 

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For a Process Mining Demonstration and discussion please click here