Most successful businesses are built on a simple concept: provide a product or service that fits a market need. Salient Process is succeeding in the world of Business Productivity by recognizing a demand for a value-based, strategic approach to designing and deploying Business Automation solutions. Salient Process CEO, Brian French, says that many companies don't understand how their business processes really work or what they cost before they get started. "Once we can provide clarity around what they are doing today, then we are much more likely to get great results," he says.
Brian French, CEO, Salient Process
Today’s Business Automation software reminds me of a toy I grew up with, called an Erector Set, which provided a kit of interlocking metals parts, fasteners, wheels and engines. There were guides to how to assemble them to build cool things like bridges and robots, but I can tell you from personal experience, results varied widely. My cousin the Junior Engineer, who would grow up to patent windmill technology, built elegant machines. Me? Not so much.
The point is that you better know what you’re doing. Salient Process has developed a playbook which they bring to every Automation project, developed from hundreds of implementations, and has developed a deep bench of architects, designers, and business analysts fluent in the elements of Automation, including robotic process automation, workflow, decision management, artificial intelligence and the rest of the IBM Automation catalog.
Brian French started the company in 2012 after a career at Intel and Lombardi and a short stint at IBM, where he saw firsthand the power of Automation to transform businesses. He made a series of smart moves along the way, bringing in people and acquiring Intellectual Properties that sharpened what they could offer. Brian has a refreshing humility with his understated humor and hands-off management style. “First of all, I hire people that are smarter than me. That for me, is the key to success - to find people that have mastered the new stuff and bring them in.”
While it explains how he selects talent to grow the company, the other key piece is the playbook, to use an American football reference. As Business Automation has grown over the past decade and rapidly accelerated during the Pandemic, there is always the one question that organizations ask: “Where do we start?”
According to French, Salient’s mission is to provide that answer. “We want to be known as the company for aligning process outcomes with corporate goals,” says French. “It's not about automating to say you have Automation. What processes are key to your success? Let’s measure it today to see where automation can make a difference, then design and deploy a solution, then review it from a business perspective. What was the goal? Did we meet it? Do we need to adjust?”
This methodical approach is accompanied by some useful tools that help with “measuring.” IBM Blueworks Live is the tool Salient uses to map processes and help organizations visualize the processes they do every day. IBM Process Mining is another tool that enables a company to use its own process data to look for bottlenecks and simulate automations to help prioritize where to start.
Where Salient goes even further is they developed their own software discovery tool called “Automation Compass,” which they use to identify and recommend possible areas to leverage Workflow, Tasks, Decision, Content, and Capture based on pattern, keywords, systems, and other aspects including a new natural language detector using IBM Watson. It also provides an ROI calculator to help determine savings and payback time for each process automated.
“We designed Automation Compass to be a starting point, which works very well with process mapping and process mining,” explains French. “Automation Compass sits in the middle between the two. It can pull in information from all of those places to give a Big Picture view of everything that's going on to help a company make decisions about what makes the most sense to automate, based on all the factors.”
A great example of how the Salient method works was recently featured in “Automation Expose.” After the success of a robotic process automation project at the restaurant chain Primanti Brothers, the company excitedly presented a list of 12 processes they wanted Salient to automate next. Brian’s team suggested instead that they do the due diligence and measure the 12 processes using their proven approach, which revealed that actually automating only 7 processes would provide more benefit to Primanti; the other 5 just didn’t offer the ROI.
Here is that episode, which shows the Salient process team doing what they do best.