More and more technology leaders are turning to Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to help accelerate time to value, reduce human error, and free employees from highly repetitive, manual tasks allowing them to focus on higher value work.
RPA has great promise in transforming how organizations can approach and perform work. But to get the most out of your automation investment, look at conducting a process assessment prior to starting a project.
Process reviews have numerous benefits. Above all, a review will ensure that your blueprint for RPA (aka your process documentation) reflects the way your process is performed and help you optimize it for automation. During a review, it’s good to keep in mind that RPA works best for well defined, linear processes. Knowing this ahead of time will help you avoid unexpected stand stills later.
Surprises take the fun out of RPA
To understand why a well-defined process is so critical to robotic process automation, we need to discuss how RPA works.
RPA bots are designed to mimic or replicate user interactions with the desktop, but with added efficiency. Mouse clicks, key combinations (e.g. ctrl + S, F2 etc.), copy paste procedures are captured step by step into what is called a bot script. Those are instructions that an RPA bot will execute. When applied to optimized processes, RPA bots can achieve multiples in output over a human worker doing the same task. Amazing, right?
However, as mentioned above, bots work best with processes that are both well-defined and linear. RPA bots aren’t that good at dealing with surprises. This means that any deviation from what you captured in your RPA bot script will cause trouble. Most RPA bots default to a full stop when they encounter an unexpected condition. When you have a lot of undocumented variations (or surprises) in a process, and then try to apply an RPA bot to automate it, you can expect your RPA bot to stop… a lot. There goes all that promised efficiency!
Let’s circle back.
So, the question becomes, how to leverage the power of RPA when you don’t know the variability of your process?
One option is to budget for enough bot development time so you can handle the variations you know about and continue to add complexity as you uncover new variations. However, this approach tends to be costly and unsustainable in the long run.
A much better (and cost-effective!) alternative is to start with a process review to simplify or re-engineer the variability out of the process. Although this approach will likely take more time upfront, you get the benefit of an accurate, updated and improved process and a much better RPA outcome.
Eager to get started with robotic process automation?