RPA is a fantastic tool for businesses that have lots of clear, defined processes but it can be surprisingly easy to pick the wrong target. Before deploying a digital workforce you need to know exactly how your business works and what can be automated, and to do that you need to know how to evaluate one use case against another.
In order to determine a process that is ripe for RPA, consider it against this criteria:
- Is it repetitive?
- Is it high-volume?
- Is it rules-based?
- Is it prone to human error?
- Does it involve structured data?
Using this (very) top-level list of requirements will thin out the potential candidates for automation and get you thinking in the right direction – along the lines of what automated process will deliver the most business value. When you uncover a process or task that says ‘yes’ to all of these questions, you will have discovered the low hanging fruit that could offer significant benefits to your organisation within an extremely short time frame, providing the process in question is already as efficient as it could be.
Finding the processes that are ripe for automation
RPA can be used in a variety of ways and in countless industries. In finance, for example, it can significantly improve the speed of invoice processing and accounts payable, and in HR it is commonly used during the onboarding/offboarding process to cut down on time and speed up completion. Verticals that have traditionally done well with RPA are finance, insurance, supply chain and healthcare – but the same opportunities exist across the board for those willing to look for them, because the same broad tasks and processes exist in practically ALL businesses.
Take an objective look at your organisation and uncover the processes that migrate data, update information, monitor systems and take care of emergency tasks. Often these are the areas that have the most automation potential initially. Upon examination, there will often be past instances of human error or bottlenecks that cannot be easily solved with your current workforce. Look for the pain points and match them up with the criteria above and opportunities will begin to present themselves.
Once you have a definitive list of potential automation candidates you are ready to move onto the next step, which is choosing the right one for your initial deployment. In the beginning, choose a small and simple process that can be easily defined and has little potential to cause mass disruption in the case of an unforeseen issue arising. You should also consult with the experts that head up that particular process and document it from start to finish. Not only will this make RPA delivery exponentially easier and more effective, it will sharpen your instinct for what is a good candidate for automation and what is not – a skill that will become more and more useful as we head into the future.
For advice on building a business case for automation, take a look at how we can deliver a proof of concept for a process of your choosing.
About the Author
Head of Automation
Aaron Marshall is Head of Automation Practice at Procensol UK, a process-centric solutions provider using low code applications and automation technology to aid digital transformation. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.