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June 15, 2017
5 keys to select the right tasks for RPA
Frederic Portal, Ataway Director of Alliance and Strategy
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 In our last blog post, we discussed why RPA is so important for organizations and how it will revolutionize the way you work. Once Organization understands the benefit and value of automation through RPA, the following step in the journey is choosing which processes are best suited for automation and have the potential to produce the most value.

survey by Redwood Software of 300 corporate decision makers from the US and the UK founds “79% of enterprises said automation delivered time savings, 69% cited 'improved business productivity' as the key benefit of automation, [and] 61% said automation regularly provides cost savings.”

Even though it seems obvious that automation will bring a lot of value to organizations, one of the challenges of RPA is to select the first process to automate. Your organization is facing a choice selecting a simple process or a complex one.

If you chose to automate a simple process you will go faster and with a minimum impact on other team or processes but with a return on investment that will have a minimal impact on the overall company's operations in terms of solving time or cost constraints. 

If you go with a more complex project that is critical for your organization then it will be slower but the ROI and the impact will probably much bigger.

The process you select must be rules-based. These types of processes are most often data-driven, tedious, repetitive tasks usually you find them in processes such as HR, Finance, and Accounting, Supply Chain, even in IT Services.

As a best practice, we will recommend in the initial assessment is to create a scorecard across the business for rating the automation potential of your business processes.  With this score you will be able to measure, compare and provide visibility across all your process that you want to automate. The scorecard should include the effort you are considering.   

To support your decision making on which process should be the first one you could assess your processes based on  5 criteria:

 

Employee Involvement
Many operational processes are suitable candidates for automation if they are: time-consuming, highly dependent on employee attention and involvement. Relevant activities in this area can include order and claims processing, data migration, or entering customer/vendor information into a database.

The survey by Redwood Software suggests that “99% of organizations still spend considerable personnel time doing repetitive manual tasks, with almost three quarters (74%) spending over a quarter of their time doing so.”

 

In another study study conducted by the Vanson Bourne group, 63 percent of companies surveyed spend more than a quarter of their time on repetitive, manual tasks and 17 percent spend over half of their time. Automation of these manual activities means their execution will become quicker, less error prone and faster. By automating those tasks, your staff can focus on business valuable initiatives that require innovative thinking, personal interaction, problem-solving and decision-making.

You should consider the following:
Which processes take up a large percentage of my employees' time?
Which processes require a high percentage of dedicated staff?
Which processes require hiring of additional staff during seasonal spikes in workload?

Complexity
RPA will help you to automate simple processes like copy-paste or typing activity, to complex one such as fraud detection or accounts payable. You can define the complexity of a process by:

the number of applications/systems,
the frequency of human intervention,
the number of steps required in order to execute the task.

More the process is complex, greater impact on a company’s business operations, but these processes are also more difficult to automate and will t require a greater time and financial investment. Now if you start to automate the simplest processes, your team will learn the ins and outs of the RPA solution. After initial automation successes is achieved, transitioning to the automation of a more complex project will be easier and will allow you to maximize the impact the RPA solution to streamlining and optimizing operations. The last option is to work with a partner that know automation, he will train you and guide you through process, allowing you to start with a complex or very complex process automation ensuring a great ROI.

The best way to approach this step is to speak to the people who perform the process day in and day out to gather the requirements first hand so you have a clear picture of the scope and time required. 

You should consider the following:
How many steps are involved in the process (both user steps and integration steps)?
Does it include critical functions?
How many different applications does the process use end-to-end?
Are there decision-points within the process that require human intervention?
What is the estimated delivery time to develop the automation scenario?

Flexibility
When a company is entirely reliant on human employees, this workload can only be addressed when employees are present in the office. The use of RPA can help when employees are not working, or help you when facing high volume tasks because RPA Solution can work 24/7/365. RPA solution will tackle activities quickly and accurately anytime.

Standardization and Stability
RPA will work like a charm if you tasks are highly definable and occur the same way every time. These processes should be rules-based, consistent, and data driven. In the other hand task that are constantly changing or non-standardized are not good candidates for RPA as they cannot be easily defined.

You should consider the following:
How often does the process get changed?
How much does it change?
What is the lead time for change?

Audit and Compliance
Many business activities, especially in the area of Finance or Human Resources, require a high level of regulatory compliance. It is really difficult to achieve especially if you have different systems, or using offshoring.
RPA propose an alternative and allow your organization to be in control of executing your own transactions internally with RPA and develop a robust compliance strategies.
RPA solutions can save their actions into an activity log. You can later monitor and reviewed the log. The log can be used by employees to detailed analytics, support industry, and regulatory compliance, and provides the information required for an audit.
 

Choosing which processes to automate first is not easy, however, you could user the checklist we put together to support your initiative. Our experts help you implement Robotic Process Automation and analyze processes to find the most suitable ones. Profit from our expertise and contact us to find out more about how RPA can help your company.

Interested in learning more about how you can take advantage of Robotics, or are you looking for some help on defining your RPA strategy to support your digital transformation? The Ataway RPA team is here to help you and make your digital transformation a success. Consider talking to one of our local Ataway offices. Ataway has worked on several Cloud activations and can help you. Consult with Ataway’s team of experts today to learn more or send us an email: experts@ataway.com . 

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