Are you continuously improving your processes?

How often has this happened? You map out and understand key processes for a systems implementation or organisational change. Identifying the opportunities, requirements and constraints you deliver the much anticipated improvements. Then, the processes get filed away and largely forgotten. How therefore, can you continuously be improving your processes if they are not engaging your organisation? 

Fast forward a year, the next change is around the corner and you know the processes are already captured. You retrieve the documentation, dust it off and discover the world has changed more than you thought. Despite all your hard work in that last year, not one person has been responsible for continuously improving your business processes and they are out of date. 

Does this sound familiar? If this has happened to you then read on. Learn how to develop a sustainable process framework that ensures the processes are not only kept up to date but more importantly deliver considerable value above and beyond the original project. 

Skore Process Map
Image taken from the Skore Digital Discovery Platform

Chart a new direction

Instead of filing the process documentation away for use in some future project, think about how it can be used to deliver more value to the business today. In the short term, for example, it should provide training material and support to those involved in the change.

Explore other initiatives in the business that would benefit from having clarity on key processes. A good place to start is with compliance, standards, customer experience, continuous improvement and operational excellence. Identify the key people in these areas and share the work that has been done to see how it could support their goals and objectives.

Creating the processes is one thing but keeping them up to date will probably require new processes to ensure feedback loops are closed and content actually gets updated when required. Consider what infrastructure you need to put in place from the beginning to encourage this culture and help you improve your processes continuously. 

Next, think about how this gets communicated to the business. Make clear what the benefit is for each team, the individuals in those teams and how it helps them to do their jobs better.

Empower the business

Once the processes are defined think about the people in each team who own and look after them. Identifying the process owners is essential as these are the people that will have the final say on what gets changed.

Identify champions responsible for gathering feedback and ensuring something happens with it. A system, such as Skore, helps here by gathering comments and managing changes to content. However someone has to be responsible for making happen. Therefore you need a ‘go to person’ in each team that everyone knows to ask.

Learn how to share a process across teams in Skore

Sense and respond to change

With the key stakeholders identified and the processes mapped start putting it into action. Well mapped processes provide a common language for teams to have focused discussions about what works well and what can be improved. For this reason we recommend that teams start to include a process review in regular team meetings. Continuously improving your processes should be a team effort not individual.

These can be once a week or even once a month but it’s worth taking 10-15 minutes in each team meeting. Review one or more processes and ask those simple questions; what’s causing us to slow down? What could we do better?

This may, or may not, lead to a change in the process. Either way the team knows and is reminded about how it works. Processes actually end up being tweaked more regularly as teams become more familiar with them. The processes become a reference point for experimentation and identify potential issues long before they become a reality.

Embedding simple process reviews into regular team meetings significantly increases the agility of the team and maintains high levels of communication and trust. These regular team meetings offer you the opportunity to ensure processes are improved continuously. This is better than at the last minute or because something has gone wrong. 

Continuously Improving Your Processes

There are clear benefits to reusing processes in this way. First the ability for a team to sense and respond to changes much quicker. Second, when that next transformation programme inevitably comes around, the processes will be up to date. The team will already be aligned and have a much deeper understanding of the need for change. Sustaining processes not only saves you money when you kick off a change programme. It can also increase the performance of the whole business. Your organisation must stay agile and continuous improvement of your processes is key to that success.

Skore is the process discovery, insights and improvements software platform. Skore allows you to map processes in live workshops at the speed on conversation. You gain instant insights into your organisation and engage and collaborate across teams.

Why do we map processes?

Why should you bother mapping processes? Without this crucial step a project or programme is at risk of falling apart. It all starts with Process Discovery – the key to a successful process map….

Let’s start with the basics; processes are mapped to help understand how things work today, or to design how things should work in the future. A process flow chart provides a visual representation of a set of activities and outcomes. These are often difficult to read in a text format. It’s especially useful where a process has multiple pathways, where different things happen in parallel, or different events can trigger different sets of activities.

Typically processes are mapped as part of projects or programmes such as:

  • Systems implementation
  • Standardisation
  • Compliance
  • Continuous Improvement

A good process will show the key activities, the outcomes and the roles that are responsible for those activities. More detailed processes can also include; responsibilities (e.g. RACI), systems, requirements, risks, issues and control points among others.

Process helps us understand how something works, or how we want it to work, but what exactly does it help us understand? What should you be looking out for when capturing a process? It breaks down into three things:

  • Alignment
  • Opportunity
  • Constraints

Understanding each of these will help ensure you get the most out of any process mapping exercise in the future.

Image taken from Skore’s Digital Discovery Platform

Alignment

When capturing a current process, understanding how things work today, it’s important to ensure everyone is aligned. The team who do the process must all agree on how it is done. If it is done differently by different people, then you need to understand why it’s done differently and what the impact is.

This ensures that everyone is talking the same language early on and has the same understanding. They comprehend the problems they currently face, how they describe them and any future benefits to fixing it.

It’s vital to get alignment early, get everyone onboard, and keep everyone aligned by referring back to the processes throughout the project.

Opportunity

Looking at any process is a chance to improve it. It could be reducing cost, removing unnecessary steps, simplifying, reducing risk, speeding it up or any number of other things. When subject matter experts get together to map out a process visualisation, and create that common language it is much easier to talk about improvements.

Therefore the team needs to ask itself what the opportunities for improvement are. These could be very general, such as simply removing waste from the process, or more focused such as identifying specific parts of the process that can be automated by a system.

In large and strategic change programmes, opportunities should be looked at through the lens of the programme objectives. What improvements can be made to help achieve those targets?

Constraints

Whatever change you intend to make must be made within the constraints of the business. Some constraints will be more obvious than others, for example, time, budget and resources. It is process discovery, that is the discussion, visualisation and documenting of the process, that helps to reveal the hidden constraints that could trip the project up later on.

These could be anything that prevents the change being a success if not managed correctly. Issues and risks are the most common. A change may be held up simply if standards and compliance requirements impact an individual step. In discovery workshops you discuss the non functional requirements such as security or usability which are essential to success.

Image taken from Skore’s Digital Discovery Platform

Summary

Process mapping, and process discovery, are the key enablers to change of any kind, whether implementing standard ways of working or completely transforming how things get done. Process mapping ensures that you get alignment among the team, identify the opportunities for improvement and understand the constraints that could prevent you from achieving the desired outcome. Make sure with any discovery session you have considered these three dimensions effectively before moving on.

Need more help mapping processes? Try Skore’s Digital Discovery platform, it enables you to capture processes at the speed of conversation through live workshops and manage the data. Click here to find out more about our process discovery, improvements and analysis software and  simplify the complexity of your organisation. 

Chaos to Conviction – Essential Discovery for Successful RPA


Like any automation, when developing a new process in RPA a high degree of certainty is required to make it work.  Teams must clearly define exactly which screens to interface with, the exact data required and the correct manipulation, if you want to achieve successful RPA discovery.

Get any of this wrong and your robot may be fast, they may be cheaper than a human, but the output renders it worse than useless, even potentially dangerous. However, the way humans work, especially in organic process, is rarely full of certainty. Processes can be opaque, overly complicated and difficult to explain. To bridge this gap you need a stable approach to RPA discovery.

A Solid Framework

Traditionally you could simply rely on an experienced consultant who’s done this before, however these are hard to find and can be expensive. A good analyst, or subject matter expert, should be able to achieve the same objective providing they are supported by a robust framework. 

This is so key because it makes sense of what can appear chaotic. Humans each have a unique way to describe what they do so one of the first things to do is to be able to standardise that output. 

As an example, in a recent project we looked at a global finance process that was executed regionally. During the initial discovery sessions one could have been forgiven for thinking these regional activities were completely different processes due to the language used and approach taken. 

By applying a framework we were forced to ask: where does it start? what happens? who does it? with what? and what’s the output? This immediately provided simple data to work with – essentially –  are they starting with the same input and are they aiming to produce the same output?

Using this approach meant that instantly it wasn’t us challenging the user but the framework itself. This simple technique avoids the user becoming defensive, or feeling threatened, when challenged about how they work. In our example our adherence to the Skore framework resulted in a successful process mapping exercise with the bonus of no egos hurt or relationships damaged.  

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat.

This first pass at discovery rarely gets you straight to the answer but it will start to make sense of what’s going on. Once you’ve established the start point and endpoint of one or more processes you need to understand how they actually work. 

Take each step in a process and break that down into the next level of detail. This ensures that all your work is captured in the context of the wider process. Continue the previous line of questioning until you can clearly describe the process as if you had done it yourself. This is much easier than it might at first sound, providing you follow the guidelines of the framework. You may need to repeat several times to achieve this but you can normally complete this in one or two sessions.

Apply the RPA Lense

Once you’ve captured the process you’ll already be thinking about which parts are suitable for RPA. It’s time to combine your solid process mapping approach with available software.

This helps to quickly identify standardised inputs and outputs, interfaces suitable for RPA, decision making and so on. Software will support your decision making to ensure you can do it quicker and more accurately. Build your business case by determining how much a process costs, how many full time equivalent roles are required, who will be impacted and the potential savings. 

Successful process discovery RPA business case dashboard created by Skore
Image taken from the Skore Robotic Assess Module

Capture and Approve the Detail

Finally, once you have selected the most suitable candidate for automation you can capture the step by step process. Again create a process map under the relevant step, capture the key stroke steps, along with screenshots, to develop a detailed design document in the context of the wider process and business case.

Conclusion

Through years of experience I’ve rarely come across anyone that can clearly articulate their own process when asked. RPA opportunities often arise as the result of some major shift or disruption in the workplace. Where workarounds prevail however, it is even harder for a coherent process description to arise. This means that RPA opportunities can often be tricky to make sense of and get right.

Too often what looked initially like a great candidate turns out to be overly complicated with too many exceptions. A strong framework, applied methodically, will weed out those processes and help you make more informed decisions. Don’t be afraid to take the time to go back and retrace steps until you fully understand the process. Repetition and reiteration are your friends in this. 

If you’d rather get the experts involved take a look at Skore’s Robotic Assess module. Our Digital Discovery platform will not only speedily capture your end to end processes but also provides insights to facilitate process improvements. Identify RPA opportunities, illustrate potential savings and demonstrate your return on investment to stakeholders all with the click of a button. Click here to request a demo.

Practice what you Preach. Using Skore in Lean Process Improvement

In the early days of Skore we didn’t set out to build a Lean improvement software. We just wanted a way to make process discovery workshops easier, quicker and more engaging than the traditional method using brown paper, sticky notes and a lengthy writeup. 

Initially I was surprised by the resistance displayed by Lean teams when presenting the capabilities of Skore. However I quickly realised that this had nothing to do with Lean and everything to do with human nature. Humans, generally, don’t deal with change very well. Change brings uncertainty and that makes us uncomfortable.

Ironically It turns out that it doesn’t matter even if you’re in the business of change and transformation, you’ll just as likely rail against the uncertainty that change brings. Competition, although, is a great motivator and recently we’ve seen more and more Lean teams turn to us when looking at ways of improving how they deliver their own work.

Make your Process Discovery Lean – How Skore is different. 

In our efforts to improve the effectiveness of  process discovery workshops we looked at how processes are described. A number of notations and approaches are available but we wanted something simple. Not to remember a lot of symbols or explain them to others and certainly we didn’t want to waste time discussing their meaning. So we reduced the shapes we use to 2.

Skore’s 2 shapes – the What and Why box

We did want people to think about the value of their work so we introduced the Why box. This ensures that for every piece of work that we describe in Skore we need to have a discussion about why we do it. That discussion could be 15 seconds, or it may take 15 minutes, but it’s essential to know whether the work is adding value or not.

Example of Process Step using What and Why box taken from Skore’s Software Platform

We created a software interface easy enough to use in a live environment and capture a process at the speed of conversation. This is done on a screen in front of people while they describe the process. We recognised writing sticky notes distracts from the flow of information from participants.  Whether re-writing a spelling mistake or having to completely rearrange all the notes on the board because they missed an important step out somewhere.

Of course the by product of this ‘process improvement’ is everything you capture is immediately stored digitally. There’s no need to take photos, roll up the paper and transcribe it into various formats afterward. Content is shared instantly at the end of the workshop. In a recent example one of our partners saves 2 days of follow up work for each workshop they run. At around 100 workshops per year  – that’s a significant saving of 200 days.

Using Skore going forward.

Finally Skore addresses the waste issues concerning the ongoing management of documents following a workshop. Huge amounts of information are gathered, not just process flows. Roles and responsibilities, risks, timings, costs, delays, questions, actions, issues, the list goes on. All are documented somewhere and relate to specific parts, or steps, in the process. They must be updated and kept in sync. Skore stores this directly against the process so that any change you make will instantly highlight any dependencies and be reflected through all the information. 

Using Skore enables Lean teams to ensure that their information gathering and process mapping is efficient and effective. Surely Lean consultants themselves should be able to recognise that sometimes we all need to change and embrace the new ways, even if that means recognising that Lean approaches can produce wastage too. 

Skore Digital Discovery is cloud based software that enables you to align your people, processes and tools. A process discovery, insights and improvement platform with a live workshop tool, it reduces the capturing processes stage from weeks to days. Skore’s Lean Assess module identifies value add and non value steps in processes and calculates savings for your organisation. Click here for a free trial.

Don’t drown in the RPA Sea of Opportunity.

Ensure your organisation’s preparations for RPA process discovery are watertight and ready for anything. Here are Skore’s recommendations for RPA process discovery success.

A previous blog (see here) explored the difficulties, especially in organisations new to RPA, in identifying good opportunities for implementing robots.

However, this blog focuses more on when you have some fantastic early success with RPA. Interestingly this leads to a number of different problems to consider:

  • how to quickly evaluate and prioritise the requests
  • how to collaborate with the requesting teams 
  • how to maintain the growing number of robots.

It was the perfect example to demonstrate that getting RPA process discovery right means this situation will happen sooner than you think. We recommend that you start thinking about the following early on in your RPA journey.

Evaluate and prioritise requests

You will move from a hunting model to a servicing model. Instead of searching out for opportunities and candidates for RPA, you will be receiving requests from colleagues across the business.

Remember that very few people will have the experience you have in identifying these opportunities. Requests will vary from a near perfect fit to wildly unsuitable and will differ considerably in size and complexity. You won’t have time to do a thorough investigation into each one before deciding whether to engage or not. You need to make sure your team are as prepared as possible to evaluate these opportunities effectively. 

With a Digital Discovery tool, such as Skore, you can quickly capture a high level view of the process. By applying Skore’s Robotic Assess, you can determine suitability, feasibility and the potential business case.

Invoice Process Map

This can be done in a single conversation with the requesting team, or, you can even ask them to do it themselves.

The information is saved directly to the system and a pipeline of candidates is produced and ranked according to the potential benefits. Process discovery and evaluation is arguably the most important stage of the RPA model, do not underestimate it.

RPA Process Assessment

Collaboration with the business

From the time a request is submitted, until the robot is delivered, communication with the requesting team is essential. If you’re accepting requests and managing comms via email this is never going to scale.

Consider a task management tool such as Asana, Jira or Monday. These can be configured to accept requests electronically, manage projects and provide dashboards so that both the delivery team and the requesting team can see the status of the project at any time.

With the processes captured in Skore it’s very easy to indicate which steps are to be automated and tested. This can be exported to your task management tool to provide the framework to the project, if accepted.

Robot maintenance

Ongoing maintenance of robots is something that very few teams consider… until they need it. Very few robots can be built and forgotten. Robots are using systems and forms that can change. Robots themselves are software and will receive updates and improvements that need to be considered. Data used by the robots can change too.

Ensure that you maintain a catalogue of previously built robots and their current operating status. Use monitoring to notify you of potential issues that arise before they have a significant impact on the process. Plan maintenance windows to allow you to update robots as and when required.

Ultimately, robots are like any other system the organisation manages so it’s essential that you have clear processes to deal with outages, issues and general maintenance. Don’t undervalue this step in your RPA implementation plan. 

Conclusion

Get RPA right  and it has the impact to transform a business and it can happen quickly. When it does you need to be ready to take full advantage. Think early about how you’re going to scale production and maintenance and what tools you will use to plan, evaluate and review. This will save you a lot of trouble and lost opportunity when your RPA vision truly sets sail.

Skore Digital Discovery is cloud based software that enables you to align your people, processes and tools. A process discovery, insights and improvement platform with a live workshop tool, it reduces the capturing processes stage from weeks to days. Skore’s Robotic Assess module allows you to build robust business cases on RPA quickly and effortlessly. Sign up here for a demo. 


No Pains No Gains?

Should we start by capturing pains first in a process discovery workshop? Or are we just inflicting more pain on ourselves?

Last edited 01/10/2019

Too often we focus on the pain and not the process discovery. Typically people start with a ‘Pains’ session with subject matter experts followed by a series of process workshops.

However, how much pain and frustration do you create by completing this exercise? Time wasted discussing a pain that later turned out to be low priority or the really big problems that are dealt with that didn’t come out until later workshops. Of course by this stage you have already spent a lot of time and effort exploring solutions that were no longer relevant.

You may wonder why its done this way but the answer is predictable

 “we’ve always done it this way even though we know it’s the worst thing we can say!”

It’s not however,  just “pains” workshops where this happens,it is often seen with requirements gathering workshops. A team gathers around a flip chart and lists all the requirements / pains / risks etc that they believe are the most important. Yet when you dig into these they are either not as important as they first appeared, or those that didn’t seem important at first turn out to be the highest priority. This seems to be a common issue experienced in process workshops.

Why does this happen?

Asking people what pains they experience, or what they require from a new system, are not easy questions to answer. On the face of it they appear straight forward. What do you not like about the current process? Sure you can answer that, but how you express it, how you perceive it, when it last happened to you and how you experience it are likely to be quite different to the next person.

It means that how you answer that question on any given day could result in a completely different answer. Combine this with a group of different people and you also have to contend with how loud someone talks, their individual personalities and the level of engagement in this particular session.

The psychologist Daniel Kahneman in his book ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ describes ‘substitution’, a behaviour common in humans when faced with difficult to answer and ambiguous questions. The brain is inherently lazy and always finds the easiest way to answer a particular question. When asked about the pains you feel in a particular process you’re unlikely to think really deeply about this and will simply substitute an answer that you can easily remember – therefore the last thing that happened to you rather than the most painful thing.

Process Discovery
Image taken from Skore’s Digital Discovery Platform

How do we improve Process Discovery?

You must make it as easy as possible for people to express the pains they feel in context. This means creating a framework. A framework you can use to start with and which becomes the process to which the pains, or requirements, relate to as part of your process discovery.

Rather than starting with the pains session, it is important to start with defining and agreeing the process as it happens today. This provides a common language that the whole team can use. A common language to describe the pains in the same way, rather than multiple people describing the same pains in very different ways.

As the process is laid out it  will become easy for SMEs to describe pains and requirements in the context of the process. The prioritisation and sizing of the problem can then be captured live at the same time. This also makes it unnecessary for your team to have multiple workshops.

Skore Digital Discovery

At Skore we have specifically designed our platform to capture business processes live in workshops. Along with the process descriptions you can capture pain points and requirements, and quantify them, all in the context of the relevant step in the process. As the information is captured directly into the software there’s no need to take photos and write up notes afterward. It’s effortless as your pain points, requirements and quantification data are also stored in the same place so there are no more multiple spreadsheets.

Finally…

Instead of starting with a pain points or requirements session, you need to start with capturing the process. This gives you the framework with which to have a much more meaningful conversation about the pains and requirements in context. The conversations are not only more focused but the whole exercise is much quicker, keeping subject matter experts more engaged and on board.

Skore Digital Discovery is a process capture, improvement and analysis platform designed to simplify the complexity. Click here to sign up for a free trial and find out more about how Skore can revolutionise the way you deal with processes and transformation in your organisation.

Can’t see the robots for the trees?

Make sure you are identifying the right RPA processes straightaway.

As soon as you get into RPA you can’t help but see opportunities for applying the technology everywhere. Although not every opportunity turns out to be suitable, it’s important to keep feeding the pipeline. 

The concept of using robots to automate manual activities is very simple. Logically it should be fairly simple to spot opportunities for using them. However, this whole area, despite the phenomenal growth in the RPA market, is still massively under exploited in most organisations.

Why is it so hard?

There are numerous reasons for this. Firstly RPA capability is still young and developing in most organisations and there is limited capacity to move quickly. Secondly, for many the value is yet to meet the promise, although when it undoubtedly does it will rapidly hit a tipping point. Finally, the workforce in general do not have the necessary skills, knowledge and information to spot relevant opportunities. It is vital that your organisation can identify the right RPA processes from the start.

Skore’s Experience.

Skore recently was contacted by a client working on compliance processes in Skore. It involved checking hundreds of PDF files to ensure the right data had been entered into the right fields. They could only check a sample each month which was about 1% of the total.

The client was aware of RPA, having seen it in action in their organisation, yet hadn’t spotted the opportunity to automate in their own department. It was only when they captured the reporting process and it came to life in Skore, that the light bulb moment arrived.


Identify RPA processes
Image taken from Skore’s Digital Discovery Platform

As they summarised –  “the problem is that we spend so much time down in the weeds. We’re focused on getting all this work finished everyday we don’t see the bigger picture.”

When the wider process was laid out visually, with highly manual and repeatable steps clearly highlighted, it was obvious that significant improvements could be made. When the time and cost data was added to Skore there was a clear business case too. Then they were able to identify the right RPA process.

A revolutionary change…

Although it was the significant time saving that was exciting the client, the benefits went way beyond. Suddenly their 1% sampling could become 100% of documents with the team free to follow up on those that failed the compliance check. This significantly reduced the risk of poor customer experience, regulatory fines and the resulting effect that would have on the business brand.

Despite the fact that the client was well aware of the capabilities of RPA they had found it difficult to spot opportunities for applying the technology. They were so focused on the day to day activities that they couldn’t see the difference between those that were highly standardised and repeatable and those that weren’t. It was by taking the time to capture these processes that the RPA need and benefits became clear.

Conclusion

To identify RPA opportunities we need to take a step back and look at our processes objectively. We must devote time to understand what the company needs, what our staff need and what our customers need. It is very easy to get lost in the detail and lose the bigger picture. RPA promises great benefits but only if we can commit to taking the time to identify the right processes to automate.

Skore’s cloud based Digital Discovery platform rapidly captures business processes and produces instant insights. The Robotic Assess module enables organisations to highlight process to automate and creates the business case to support them. 

Transformation implies big changes but does it really deliver?

The word transformation implies big changes. To achieve them businesses invest considerable time, effort and money. You are justified in expecting a sizeable return for all that effort.

However most businesses finish a transformation program having only achieved minor performance improvements or nothing at all.

Aims v Outcomes

It’s a sad fact that the word transformation often symbolises the amount of pain and effort a business goes through. It is rarely about the benefits intended. 

Businesses often plan to carry on working in the same way as before whilst transformation focus tends to be technology driven. This doesn’t work because new technology might make things faster but if you’re NOT doing the right thing in the first place, you end up doing the wrong things faster.

Your focus is on changing the tools the business is using, not enough on testing their original processes and changing the fundamental ways of working. 

What does this mean to you?

If your business is pinning hopes of survival on the outcomes of your major transformation project.. If they plan on carrying on doing what they’ve always done…If they just want  faster tools… They’ll just go out of business even faster.

What it means is that, once the dust has settled, all your team can hope for are marginal gains. Some of the steps in your processes are now automated, or you’ve pushed some tasks out to other employees. Simply you’ve moved the effort to another part of the business rather than truly transforming anything.

The original vision for the program got lost and instead of a 25% cost saving or a 37% revenue increase, it became focused on “we need to get the system implemented and working”.  

It’s all too easy to focus on the tangible aspects of the technology you are implementing and ignore the need for less tangible changes on how the business gets stuff done.

Those opportunities for genuine transformation haven’t gone away. You just didn’t go far enough with the change process.

How do you prevent this?

Time for discovery

Allocating ample time at the start of the project to undertake a thorough discovery exercise is vital. In order to understand the potential barriers, there must be a deep understanding of the current situation. This stage is not just about gathering detail about your current state and processes. It’s about engaging with people early, understanding their role, listening to their individual hopes and fears and learning what they know about ways to make your business better.

Raci Role Description

Image taken from Skore’s Digital Discovery Platform

Understand your ways of working and identify what’s holding you back.

Crucially, you need to understand what’s preventing it from being better and is holding you back. It might be the technology you use but more often it will be because things are done the way they’ve always been done with little consideration to how they could be done differently.

Work with the vendors to design your future

Armed with the knowledge of what slows things down you can start to design your future state processes to tackle these issues. If possible, do this with the vendor(s) of the platform being implemented. Alternatively, make sure your implementation partner has expertise in the technology and will follow these critical steps.

This is the point where you take what you think will make things better and marry it up with the capabilities of the new system. Without this you’ll simply be automating what you have always done.

Support your team in the new ways of working

When your new system is launched it should be in tandem with your new ways of working. Train your team on the ways of working and then on how the system supports them. Include the ‘why’ in the training so that your team have answers to the questions: 

Why are we doing it this way?

What are the outcomes I am expected to produce? 

Your training should show clearly how the new ways of working and technology achieve these outcomes.

Process cost Dashboard

Image taken from Skore’s Digital Discovery Platform

Conclusion

Transformation means just that. Transforming the way you and your business works. If you aren’t investing in the initial discovery and investigations, if you don’t know your own business processes; how can you expect to make successful changes? All too often the investment is in the final technology solution but if you don’t invest in your people and their processes you’ll never achieve it. Its all too easy to blame the term Transformation but change starts with you and your approach. 

The Skore Digital Discovery platform enables you to gather all the information you need during the discovery phase. Simply and quickly create a model of processes, people, systems and data in a single place that can be accessed and understood by everyone.

Skore’s simple approach means anyone can understand how the business works and how the new systems support it. It engages people in live workshops and interviews and allows your company to find the solutions that work for them.  

Why not request a free trial to see how you could deliver transformation right first time with Skore

Where should I start with RPA?

Those of us who have been working in the RPA space for a while are used to spotting good opportunities for applying robots. However this comes through experience and it’s not as easy as it looks.

Working with a couple of organisations recently on Digital Discovery projects, we’ve identified potential opportunities for RPA. The client’s response?… “oh we’ve tried that before but it didn’t really deliver the return we’d hoped for.”

On closer investigation it turned out that the process in question was complicated. It was selected for a number of reasons; a lot of back and forth between multiple systems, numerous copy and paste activities, repetition and high levels of human interaction. Most importantly it was considered low risk in case anything went wrong.

Whilst low risk it was clearly considered of low importance too. Only a vague scope was agreed and the team went to work building a robot.

Initially the team were pleased that the amount of copy and paste they had previously done had been greatly reduced. The volume of items they could handle had increased. However, the number of exceptions increased too, at a higher rate than the volume increase. In addition, there was an increase in rework… items that hadn’t made it successfully to the end of the process and needed to be redone, often manually.

In other words they’d fixed one problem but created new ones. On balance there was only a small return on investment and the whole RPA initiative had run out of steam before it had even begun.

Understanding which processes are right for automation is essential for success. There is much to consider and every organisation will have a different view of what’s important. Time and cost savings are obvious benefits but consider the impact on customer and employee experience. You may be reducing risk through reduction in errors or by securing data.

Therefore the first thing you should do is start to capture and analyse your end-to-end business processes. You need to get people aligned and identify everything that needs to be improved before applying automation. This drives out the requirements and other improvement opportunities.

Remember capturing business processes doesn’t have to be time consuming, using Digital Discovery it can be achieved rapidly, with high levels of engagement and immediately outputs a report of what to automate and when. Skore’s Robotic Assess module sits on top of the Digital Discovery platform and will also produce a robust business case for each process. This helps you prioritise them into a pipeline of work.

If you want to get the most out of RPA you need to pick processes that are easy to automate and return high value benefits in the shortest time. At least until you’ve established your RPA capability and are able to scale it. Using Digital Discovery will help you identify those processes rapidly and prioritise them efficiently.

Craig Willis is one of the founders of Skore, the Digital Discovery Software platform that enables you to align your processes, people and tools with ease. Skore have launched Robotic Assess, a module that allows you to easily assess and understand which of your processes are ready for automation. Click here to find out more.

Missed our recent RPA webinar? If you still need to learn about process discovery, sustainable RPA implementation, how to scale and building a robust RPA business case click here to request a free copy.

Is RPA Just A Band Aid?

My early interactions, with the technology now widely known as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), were not totally positive.

When applying RPA to a manual interface, between an old legacy system and a company’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, my instinct was to rip out the legacy system. To replace it with something more modern and efficient with the ability to integrate directly. With RPA it felt we were just postponing the inevitable, storing up problems for the future. We were putting a sticking plaster over a serious wound that was likely to fester.

In fact, we shouldn’t use human analogy where business is concerned. Business issues do not always follow a linear trajectory and the issue is not always a wound that needs to be treated and healed over time.

What is an issue today may be an advantage or opportunity tomorrow and vice versa. In other words, businesses need to be more agile so they can understand the nature of problems they face today and adapt and change for the problems they face tomorrow.

But making businesses agile is where RPA, and tools such as Skore’s Digital Discovery platform, really come into their own. With Digital Discovery tools, an organisation can rapidly understand the current situation, align teams and get everyone onboard. It’s a completely different approach to traditional methods of discovery.

Image taken from Skore’s Robotic Assess Software Platform

Undertaking a major systems implementation may seem like the right solution today, for example, replacing a legacy system. However if it takes 12 – 18 months how can we be sure that it will be the right solution?

This is where Digital Discovery and RPA are so effective. Process capture workshops are fast, engaging and result in an agreed set of processes in a digital and shareable format.

Furthermore, Digital Discovery is more than just processes. While process acts as a framework for understanding how the organisation works, a Digital Discovery tool should allow you to augment the process with other information such as; roles, systems, data, duration and costs etc.

 It allows you to create a more complete picture of how the organisation works. Enabling you to focus on what’s important right now.

This is why Digital Discovery fits so neatly with RPA. Robotic Process Automation allows you to quickly implement changes to, and vastly improve the performance of, how work gets done. There’s no need to run an 18 month implementation programme before you start seeing benefits. Benefits identified during Digital Discovery can be implemented and realised with RPA within weeks or even days.

We recognise that many organisations are still using traditional methods of discovery to feed their RPA initiatives. But don’t be surprised when there’s a collective groan from your colleagues. If you really want to become truly agile you’ll need to abandon the old ways and marry your RPA programme with Digital Discovery.

Skore has developed Robotic Assess, a Saas software solution that enables you and your organisation to rapidly discover and agree business processes, identify RPA opportunities and create a robust business case with clear ROI analysis. Find out more about what our Digital Discovery tool can do for you.