Is your process ready for Automation?
In the last few years, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), has permeated throughout most organizations. A plethora of articles and guides are showing up in every feed and every corner of the internet. Now, you want to see if you can incorporate this innovative technology in your life. Perhaps, you are a people-leader and want to see if this can benefit your team. Or you have a large number of rule-based, strict processes and you want to optimize them. The key question is: is your process ready for RPA?
This guide contains a framework to assess if your process is ready for automation.
When it comes to evaluation of feasibility, we start with the type of process you own. In most organizations, a large number of processes boil down to operations. Whether you are managing a call center and your agents are logging tickets or if you are taking an input, consistently modifying it via specific rules and producing an output, RPA might be the solution for you. If your process doesn’t fall within the definition of operational, it might fall with the realm of Core processes or Behavioral processes. Either way, they don’t fall readily within the automation framework.
Great, so you own an operational process under your umbrella. Now what?
The next step in evaluating your process readiness is to gauge how streamlined the process is. For an RPA bot to run through a process, the rules and limitations should be defined very rigidly. Map the process as granularly as possible and ask yourself:
1. How much critical thinking does each step require?
2. Can each decision be defined, and if a sub-process/path be created at each point?
3. Does the process deviate from the norm? if so, how often?
4. What percentage of the inputs follow the process and what percentage deviate?
These questions will help you determine if your process is ready. For the first question, processes which require a high amount of critical thinking or decision making, such as decisions based on reading text notes are not ideal for RPA. The next 3 questions/answers will help you determine how standardized the process is currently. If a large portion of the time (my needle is >10%), the process doesn’t follow the normal flow and deviates from the “happy” path, then its not ready for automation.
So look for processes that are
1. Follow a defined flow >90% of the time
2. Do not require many decisions or critical analysis
If your process follows the above rules, lets rush to automation. WRONG! This is a mistake most people make when they engage their automation team to create RPA bot. A much more strategic approach is to perform a six sigma Value-Stream Map (VSM). A VSM analysis would help you understand which steps are adding value and which ones are just wasting resources.
Once you have a VSM, you need to work with a Six Sigma specialist to trim and optimize the process. This will insure you have minimal steps the RPA bot is performing during the process. This has the added benefit of decreased processing time as well as minimizes error rate through the process.
Hope this provides an overview of how you can assess processes for RPA. Next, I will show you how to prioritize which processes to focus on during the automation and also help choose which factors to consider in the business case.