The Age of Robotic Process Automation
Strategy, Hyper-Automation & Process Mining
The age of automation is here - RPA is a software program or robot that is used to automate simple business processes - freeing up employees to engage in more complex tasks. Processes that benefit from automation include data entry, extraction and manipulation, email and form filling, but if there is a repetitive task in your organisation then you can bet there is a robot that could do it.
By automating such tasks, RPA offers many benefits to business:
Cost Efficiency - automation enables humans to focus on more complex tasks whilst decreasing the cost of simple business processes
Productivity - once enables the automated robots need to be monitored to ensure effectiveness, but once in place they will be productive 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
Reducing Human Error - RPA robots are not perfect, they are only as good as the humans that program them, but they do not get tired or bored and will greatly decrease error rate if setup correctly.
RPA is especially beneficial to processes requiring a high volume of employees, fixed inputs and outputs, predefined steps of how the process should be carried out and finally, processes that require no human intervention. If your business is thinking about getting started with, or expanding automation for mundane repetitive tasks then now is the right time.
During this time when business operations are limited due to Covid-19 making changes regarding how business processes are run will not bring about downtime that can occur during the integration process.
As the RPA industry continues to expand, there is a need to stay informed about future strategy, and further transformation, process mining to tune robots into carrying out even more customised business processes and the concept of hyper-automation.
All these are discussed more deeply during RPA online events by experts leading the various branches of the fast expanding world of robotic process automation. Being knowledgeable about RPA will help you know what to do for its successful implementation.
To reap the full benefits of RPA a business must have an RPA strategy that will guide delivery. An imperative step in executing an RPA strategy for your business is to understand its scope as well as priorities within your company that require process automation. This calls for an analysis of the business processes in use and their costs to determine the benefits of deploying process automation.
Other components of the strategy should also take into account the potential that process automation has in bringing transformation within the business such as how it can drive digital transformation.
The present and the future are the core periods that an RPA strategy should focus on. Besides, once you have an RPA strategy overview, it is then easy to do a pilot process automation program to inform and refine it further as well as help establish precise KPIs before commencing your long-term journey with RPA. As such, eliminating manual tasks is just the first step of RPA implementation. RPA strategy can intermarry with the company’s digital transformation strategy, and change and growth strategy to realise full transformation.
Here are the key parts of a good RPA strategy
The Discovery Phase
In this part, the company assesses the organisational appetite and preparedness for RPA while also looking into the best tools that can execute process automation seamlessly and hence, are a best fit for the organisation.
Once the company assesses the need for RPA, this part of the strategy should be an identification exercise for which business processes are a priority for automation. The company can do so by choosing a team to coordinate across various departments, they will analyse the business to see which processes will benefit most from automation and define the success criteria for each process.
Engaging an RPA Vendor
Selecting the right vendor for your process automation needs is also a key part in its successful implementation. Vendor engagement should also be informed by the business process, long-term goals, success criteria, user experience, scalability and security.
Once the RPA vendor has been engaged, then it can be put to test using an RPA pilot as proof of concept and to inform long-term engagement. This test period is vital to the success of RPA in your business - get in wrong and you will lose the support of management quickly and funds will dry up that prevent the project from being scaled.
Expansion After Success
When the business has established that the RPA implementation is successful, this part involves fine-tuning the process of its adoption to scale up RPA across the company and to find new processes to automate.
In this last step, RPA can be fully absorbed into the company’s organisation structure and culture automating more complex processes so RPA adds a real value to the broader digital transformation of the business.
When you think of hyper-automation, it is tempting to think of automation that has gone wild. However, hyper-automation is an initiative that emerged from the realisation that surface automation implementation may not be sufficient for most tasks. This concept allows employees to work alongside technology in driving digital strategies as a vast improvement from the traditional way of automating real-world tasks.
Hyper-automation is a transformation of how to maximise productivity by freeing employees from working on time-consuming repetitive business processes and administrative tasks to help them focus on more complex work. This has a positive impact on employee engagement and productivity - it’s a win win.
Another way to keep employees happy, more engaged and more excited about incorporating automation into the company’s business processes is by taming automation anxiety. When most employees hear that the company is leaning towards process automation, they naturally can develop fears about job security. However, it is necessary to assure them that automation is more about freeing them from tedious work so that they can focus their minds on more engaging and complex tasks. Therefore, investing in automation is a positive for the business and for employees. As such, clear communication and sharing of plans should be part of the RPA strategy to avoid breeding fears and rumours that can cause employees to push back or slack off. This is where hyper-automation comes in as it is a concept geared more towards successful automation in collaboration with human effort.
Hyper-automation leads to more sustainable automation within the company and can even identify when process issues require a person’s intervention. Through hyper-automation, the business can combine process models, decision models and the task’s situational context to optimise its execution. Therefore, the business becomes more adept at developing their very own capabilities.
Besides, the company should ensure that for hyper-automation to be a rewarding long-term initiative, it has an accessible secure database that is well organised with real time data that a machine learning automation tool can work to deliver predictive maintenance to inform decisions.
This coupled with RPA for tedious repetitive tasks and human effort, will keep the businesses processes working seamlessly and inform expansion and scalability decisions.
Besides having an RPA strategy and embracing hyper-automation, another initiative in the RPA industry is process mining. How does process mining help in optimising current processes?
To gain knowledge about enterprise processes, one does not have to shadow an employee. In fact, this and other traditional methods of gathering information can be limited by their time consuming nature, human biases and subjective information yielded. However, with digital transformation, process mining can inform on business processes that are not fully understood.
This concept involves analysing back-end application log files and observing and recording human interactions using AI-based software to discover processes by deriving real-time inputs.
Process mining extracts knowledge from event commits as well as application logs from ongoing processes to identify anomalies, patterns, challenges and trends that can help optimise processes, predict outcomes as well as find solutions for the enhancement of productivity, customer satisfaction and profits.
These are impossible to mine without automation because they are mined from the nuances that drift from actual business processes that are different from humans’ process mapping. Process mining only works on data from automated application workflow and helps the business create an ideal process model informing when, how and where a particular process deviates from this ideals model to help inform solutions and opportunities for a better customer experience.
Process mining usually results in the following benefits:
Discovery - Process mining helps create the ideal process model after analysis of current processes and their event logs where there was no previous model to measure against.
Benchmarking - Process mining also helps in deviation analysis in cases where the business already has a process model. This acts as a benchmark to compare against the application logs and department how well current business processes are being executed.
Performance Indicator - Through the process of discovery and benchmarking, process mining creates and uses performance indicators to help improve a business process’s outcome.
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