Selecting the Right Processes for Robotic Process Automation

Sep 20, 2018 | Mumbai (India) | CIO Insider India

Rajesh Agarwal –Head – Robotics Process Automation, Datamatics

RPA is gradually gaining momentum. However, when it comes to identifying and selecting the right processes for RPA, some enterprises are at sea because some operations are more suited for automation whereas some are not. Strategizing is one thing and implementation is quite another. Internalizing a technology and selecting the right process for the exercise requires a lot of thinking-through prior to implementation. However, as a thumb rule, processes that are manual, repetitive, and rule-based are more suited for RPA implementation.

Some reservations exist about the implementation of RPA at an enterprise level. Using products for mere desktop level RPA automation does not translate into automation at the enterprise level. Statistics say that 30- 50% initial RPA implementation projects fail (Report: Get Ready for Robots – Ernst & Young). With this, businesses are perplexed about achieving the desired results after investing in the technology.

In order to gain a successful outcome, the business needs to first select the correct process. They also need to specify what is expected (and what is not expected) from the implementation similar to a Six Sigma DMAIC project implementation. For example: RPA will improve the process speed by at least 5X. To put it simply, for an RPA implementation, a business needs to define the criteria based on which they can ‘select the right process for automation’.

RPA implementation is a significant cultural shift for most enterprises that are mid-way in their technology transformation. Additionally, a bias exists because of the mixed market sentiments about the technology. Despite the impediments, a business can ensure a seamless transformation and achieve maximum benefit from RPA by selecting the right processes for RPA. Towards this goal, a business needs to implement a step-by-step approach for adopting RPA:

Define the Vision: Different groups have different goals for RPA implementation. Some use the technology for scaling purposes. Others use it for regulatory compliance. Some businesses use the process automation to achieve baseline performance. A few businesses want to internalize it for increasing process efficiency and others for enriching customer experience. Hence it is a primary requisite to pen-down the vision / main business goals for the RPA implementation and undertake to coach and mentor the prime stakeholders in the exercise. These stakeholders further serve as the RPA evangelists in the enterprise.

Set-up a Governance team: An organizational C-suite and the immediate next rung are vast treasure troves of information. Selecting a project sponsor and setting up a Governance team from this base immensely helps in fine tuning the organizational processes, and going further, in selecting the processes that are just right for automation. Also defining a proper Responsibility and Accountability matrix helps for a seamless RPA adoption.

Select Appropriate Technology & Implementation Partner: System Integrators, who can chart the RPA implementation road map as well as take the exercise to culmination, are a rare breed. Select technology vendors and integrators who have the right knowledge base and have a hands-on enterprise-level RPA implementation experience.

Define Checklists and Frameworks: These tools help to clearly chart the agenda for an RPA overhaul. Working within a framework of Rules-driven processes, helps to achieve the maximum mileage and RoI from RPA.

Which processes to select for RPA?
Businesses can safely select processes, which involve any of the following criteria, for the business-transformation:

  • Rules-driven: Processes that are rules-based and consistent are good candidates.
  • Repetitive in Nature: Manual and repetitive tasks are the right processes.
  • Data Intensive: Tasks that involve systematic churning of voluminous data.
  • Electronic Trigger: Processes that commence on receiving electronic data files.
  • High error rates: Tasks that involve paper-based data entry or are interdependent.
  • Manual Calculations: Laborious tasks involving manual calculation of results, where one error leads to another.
  • Out-of-Hours jobs: Seasonal work overloads, round the clock tasks, which involve resolving complaints, orders, etc.
  • Electronic Start/End points: Processes involving digital inputs/outputs with intermittent manual steps.
  • High Compliance: Processes which require audit proofs for regulatory compliances.
  • Validations: Tasks involving multiple systems where validations are required at each synapse.
  • Huge number of resources: Tasks involving many resources and multi-step processes.
     

Selecting the right process, which falls under the above defined criteria, automatically translates into quick RoI. The process could be small but the savings achieved at the end of the year are significant. Simple processes reach break even in 2 - 4 months, medium complexity processes in 6 months, while highly complex processes reap ROI anywhere between 6 - 24 months. It is interesting to note that enterprise roll-outs and centralization of operations using RPA bring in efficiencies of scale.

The article is originally published in the CIO Insider magazine.