What is RACI?

Heard the acronym but still unsure as to what is RACI? Read Skore’s guide to the RACI responsibility matrix and what it should be used for.

How to use a RACI Matrix 

In this article we will outline exactly what is a RACI matrix and how to use it. 

Let’s start at the beginning:

RACI is an abbreviation of a style of matrix used to define who is responsible for what in an organisation. It allows people to attribute steps of a process (for example) to a certain job role. More than that though, it also allows you to define exactly what that job role participation should be. To make it even clearer we should explain what the letters R.A.C.I stand for:

  • Responsible – the person responsible for doing the work – they must complete the work or task
  • Accountable – this person is ultimately responsible for making sure the work is delivered but won’t be involved in the actual task itself. 
  • Consulted – A person that needs to be spoken to and potentially provides information regarding the work you are doing. They are not required to deliver the work. 
  • Informed – A person that needs to know about and kept up to date with the work. They will be affected by the result of the work achieved. 

Need to learn more about Process Mapping? Read our guide here

When do we use RACI?

RACI can be used for a number of reasons. Here is a list of the most popular:

  • Change Management Programmes – before implementing any change you need to understand who is responsible for what and who will be affected by your initiatives. This is especially relevant if those who are responsible or accountable will be changing roles.
  • Re-organisations or restructures – use RACI to comprehend the processes in your organisation and the people touched by them . To understand the roles required for the future to inform training and recruitment.
  • Project Management – Assigning responsibilities for key steps in the project plan
  • Audit – Provides clarity of roles and responsibilities – this is important to demonstrate compliance. A company with a clear RACI matrix will be able to ensure the right roles are performing the work in line with regulations. 
RACI What Box in Skore
An example of a Skore What box populated with RACI information

Using RACI effectively means that you are able to:

Become aware of everyone involved in a project or process

If you’ve done your job right you should have a list of all the people or the roles (e.g. Sales Manager) involved and their responsibilities. You know who should be doing what. In fact everyone should know who is doing what and RACI can encourage greater collaboration between teams. 

Provide analysis

If you take the next step and invest in good software or a template you should be able to produce some really insightful data and analysis about your organisation, how it works, duplications, handovers between role and the seniority level required when recruiting for a role.

Allows you to communicate effectively

You can see exactly who needs to know what and that is vital to any project success

Enables you to understand the workload across members of the team.

You will be able to see who has too much to do and whether those tasks can be assigned to other people with a lighter action list. 

Continuous improvement

Generally speaking RACI helps teams to avoid reinventing the wheel and generates a starting point when teams are beginning a new project. A clear RACI matrix cuts out the time needed to define who does what and key contacts – something that often takes time and effort at the beginning of every new piece of work. 

Job Descriptions

Using RACI means you are automatically creating job descriptions for each role involved. If this is done right you have an instant picture of who does what and an immediate brief to help you recruit the right people for the role. 

Skore Raci Role Description
Roles Description using RACI from the Skore Software Platform

RACI however can actually lead to further confusion if its not used correctly or people are unclear about the terminology.  There is often a lack of clarity around the difference between Responsible and Accountable. If you don’t get the difference, go back and get your head around it because its key.  

There can be a tendency to over engineer with RACI – its vital to keep everything as simple as possible. 

Have you thought about using another style of Responsibility Matrix – try our blog article – forget RACI analysis, RATSI makes it clearer!

Version control

Like any documentation you make – its an instant snapshot of your organisation and will be probably be out of date in a short time. Make sure you manage who controls the RACI matrix and updates it. Alternatively get a piece of software like Skore thats instantly updated and shared to all relevant parties. 

Over engineering

Teams have a tendency to add everyone they can think of on the RACI which can become counter productive. You only need to flag core roles or its going to become confusing and complicated. 

Strategy alignment

Make sure your RACI is linked to your organisation’s capability matrix and development plan. 

Find out how Skore can help you map a RACI matrix (or any type of Responsibilty Matrix) in your organisation effortlessly. Click here for a free trial of Skore

A typical Process Workshop Agenda

Process workshops are an important tool for anyone running process discovery, documentation or analysis projects. They are powerful because it’s one of the few chances that teams can get to talk about how they work together and how they can improve. Whether you have time to prepare in advance or you are on the spot, here are Skore’s top tips to run a great process workshop agenda.

Remember, the output of a workshop typically consists of:

  • an agreed description/ visualisation of the process
  • a list of improvement opportunities
  • a list of requirements
  • set of actions for the team to complete

While documenting a process may be something you are familiar with, running a workshop can be quite challenging, and if you don’t have a good structure to work to, it can be even harder. It’s key to get the agenda for your Process Workshop ready.

Need to learn more about Process Mapping? Read our guide to everything here

Here’s how we would go about organising the process workshop agenda.

Before the Workshop

Make sure you’ve agreed the scope of the process and attendees. Provide the agenda, ensure the room has been booked and all the equipment you need is there and working.

Introduction

Introduce yourself, and why you are here. You are likely to be new to a team of people who know each other very well already. You are the outsider and you need to start breaking down barriers and be clear about who you are from the very beginning.

Objectives and Expectations

Make sure you go through the process workshop agenda and discuss expectations and timings. Discuss what you hope to achieve, why you are doing it and check that everyone agrees. You can talk about what you want to cover in the meeting but its also just as important to make sure everyone know what you won’t be talking about.

Ground Rules

Its always a good idea to go through some basic rules that will apply to your workshop. Make sure that the attendees understand that everyone in the workshop is equal. If you have a person of authority attending then it is very important that they also back this up. Often team members are reluctant to speak up in front of managers. If you are not getting much feedback you may want to consider if this is why.

It’s also important to make clear that there are no phones or laptops in use, you need everyone’s undivided attention. If its urgent then people need to step away from the room and make sure there are no distractions. Make sure you are in control of the room, so there is only one conversation going on at a time and this is clear. Any major issues needed to be parked after 5 minutes.

Skore Process Map
Image taken from Skore’s Digital Discovery Platform

Guidance

Explain the approach that you are using and how it works, show examples if you have them. Even if people are comfortable with process mapping there is nothing wrong with showing them again how the workshop will work.

Design Principles

If this part of a wider programme of work there are likely to be some guiding or design principles, make sure you go through these at the beginning of the workshop. List existing standards and reference materials they have. The organisation may have a generic methodology or approach that the business needs to use and its important to adopt this culture, don’t try to change it here.

List and review content your attendees already have, but you may find that they can’t think of things on the spot, especially if they don’t use them very often. This may come out more during the workshop.

Start with the Scope

Discuss the scope of the process and ensure everyone is still aligned on what you’re going to be focusing on.

Map the Process

Capture activities, roles, inputs and outputs – take a look at our blog article for more inspiration … Make sure you capture ideas, risks, issues and actions as you go.

Walk Through

You might not finish everything in the workshop, don’t worry if thats the case, but make sure you walk through what you do have by reading it aloud to everyone.

Agree Next Steps

Discuss actions and assign owners to each one. Make sure you agree timetable for next steps if possible. Its important everyone comes away knowing what is happening next.

Process Workshop Agenda Ready!

Your basic agenda as prescribed by Skore. You are ready to run an awesome Process Workshop. Give it a try and let us know how it went by commenting below.

Skore is the Process Mapping and Analysis Software Platform. With Skore you can can map processes at the speed of conversation in live workshops, generate instant reports and dashboards and share with everyone. Sign up for a free trial below

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.

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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.

As-Is vs To-Be: Where do you start?

AsIs-ToBe

What does As Is vs To Be really mean? For most capturing the As is process is the first step towards creating a new future for the organisation

For any organisation it makes sense to take the time to capture the process as they are currently within the company. All organisations need to know who and how things are achieved within the company. 

If you need to start at the beginning and understand how to map a process then you might want to take a look at our Process Mapping Guide for a comprehensive explanation of Process Mapping. 

Why map your current processes?

If you’ve been asked to look the As Is process, it may be that your organisation is looking to change something or understand why there is an issue somewhere. Mapping the As Is vs To Be process allows you to truly work through a process and understand who is responsible for each step, make sure there is no confusion or duplication and also check everything is being done in the right order. 

Therefore the most important information to get upfront is your current performance, what’s working and what isn’t. A detailed process analysis will help answer that but you will get just as much information asking around. You should be more interested in how people perceive the performance, what the customers think or what our financial position etc. This tells you how things are working today and gives you a glimpse of where you should be going.

Preparation is key.

Before you undertake any change programme you need to understand how to get to where you want to be. Your current state will obviously help decide the direction you take towards the future. However it shouldn’t dictate what you do in the future. It may be that you need to completely change it but its good to get the basics straight first. 

Therefore you need to get all the information together to fully understand the business process. Make sure the right people are in the room and follow our process workshop agenda to help you run your workshop with ease. You may find that even by just having everyone together going through the process that it gains much more clarity. Even if it’s not being done correctly it may be the first time that the organisation are able to see any blockages or risks.  This already is helping you and the organisation to improve things. Making sure that you have the right tools as well to capture all the information (risks, requirements, costs, links to other documents etc) is key so make sure you have everything noted down or use a software like Skore to do this for you. 

Alternatively you may want to consider starting with the To-Be. Potentially controversial – this blue sky conversation could lead to better designs and better engagement from your team.

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Remember, your current position doesn’t dictate the future state, only how you get there.

Getting to To Be?

There’s no right or wrong answer to this. You simply have no way of knowing what the future is going to hold. This is part of the problem with the process improvement approach starting with a detailed As-Is capture. It gives you a false sense of structure, that process improvement is a guaranteed step-by-step approach to success. A focus on the process misses other environmental factors, such as customer behaviour and market forces that are changeable.

Instead why not map a perfect future state, based on what you know today and design the future you would like to see? Work backward from there to understand what you have already, where the gaps are, what is unrealistic and how does that affect your future. This is your roadmap.

Skore Process Map
Standard Process Map in Skore

 

The benefits of a To-Be first approach

A focus on the future first helps stop current bad habits being built into the design. You remind stakeholders you are thinking about a perfect future.

It’s also a lot more motivating to work with a team designing the future than capturing today’s reality with all its warts. The team are invested in this future. When you start with As-Is capture you’re taking busy people away from their work to talk about what they already know is wrong. While helpful it’s hardly exciting and can put people off early in the project. Once you lose buy-in it’s harder to get it back.

In system implementation or automation projects we often believe the As Is must come first. That in As is Vs To be, where manual processes are being automated ,you need to understand the As-Is process in order to understand the requirements. However the To-Be first approach is twice as important here. Manual processes are littered with work arounds and bad habits constantly being corrected by humans. Starting with the As-Is process bakes in these issues without anyone knowing why and therefore over complicating the process.

As is vs To be

Focusing on the As Is in any process discovery allows the organisation to stay in a negative mindset. Of course in any change management programme the current state of affairs must be investigated but we should be mindful of allowing this process discovery to set the tone of the programme. Only by setting our sights on the To Be vision from the very beginning can any organisation truly disrupt and lead the way in delivering change and success. 

Need help mapping As Is vs To Be? Click here for a free trial with Skore. Skore’s Software Platform is a process mapping and analysis platform. It engages your organisation through live workshops, instant insights and is easily shareable.

Credit: Cover Photo by Pixabay

Where should I start with RPA?

THOSE WORKING IN THE RPA SPACE ARE USED TO SPOTTING GOOD OPPORTUNITIES FOR APPLYING ROBOTS. HOWEVER IT COMES THROUGH EXPERIENCE AND IT’S NOT AS EASY AS IT LOOKS. WHERE DO YOU START WITH RPA?

Skore’s Process Mapping and Analysis Platform enables you to identify potential opportunities for RPA. However, often organisations are reluctant, the response being “we’ve tried that before but it didn’t really deliver the return we’d hoped for.”

If we look at statements like this more closely it’s actually because the processes in question are complicated. They are selected for a number of reasons; multiple systems, numerous copy and paste activities, repetition and high levels of human interaction. Most importantly these are considered low risk in case anything went wrong.

However whilst low risk they are clearly of low importance too. Only a vague scope is agreed before the team go to work building a robot.

Teams may initially be pleased that the amount of copy and paste they previously did is greatly reduced and the volume of items they can handle has increased. However, the number of exceptions start to increase too, at a higher rate than the volume increase. In addition, there is an increase in rework… items that didn’t make it successfully to the end of the process and need to be redone, often manually.

In other words organisations fix one problem but create new ones. On balance there is only a small return on investment and the whole RPA initiative runs out of steam before it’s begun.

So, how do you avoid these common mistakes? Where do you start with RPA? Understanding which processes are right for automation is essential for success. Every organisation will have a different view of what’s important. Time and cost savings are obvious benefits but you must consider the impact on customer and employee experience.

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.

RPA Business Case Report
Example of a Skore Robotic Assess Report

Remember capturing business processes doesn’t have to be time consuming, using process mapping 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 process discovery will help you identify those processes rapidly and prioritise them efficiently.

Craig Willis is one of the founders of Skore, the Process Mapping and Analysis 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 where to start with RPA. 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.

My top 3 tips for awesome Process Mapping Workshops

Process Mapping Workshops haven’t moved on in the last 20 years…

When you mention process mapping workshops to most people they’ll think of standing around brown paper with pens & post-it notes, talking about the same thing over and over and over. The more arguments there are, the better the workshop right? Can you accept that they are successful and collaborative workshops based on this experience?

However, as Process Mapping software grows in popularity, here are Skore’s top tips to make your process mapping workshop engaging and enriching.

Want to learn more about Process Mapping? Read our guide to Process Mapping here

Why use Process Mapping Software?

People love post-it notes right? You don’t get the same engagement looking at a screen?

Wrong. Paper-based approaches aren’t slick, moving dozens of post-it’s around because you’ve suddenly remembered a step is a daunting task. Plus, rolling up the paper and spending days translating them into a digital format results in two major problems:

  • Workshop output has a half-life. The longer between the workshop and the delivery of the output, the less impact it has.
  • It’s very difficult for one person to successfully translate what was captured into an accurate representation. Couple this with the time it’s taken, you lose engagement as people don’t relate to the output

Whatever success you’ve experienced engaging through a workshop will be lost when the reporting doesn’t match up to the conversation you had two weeks ago.

Our Top Tips for Process Mapping Workshops

  Use a common language

Even if you’re clever enough to have learnt BPMN, no one is going to be impressed with your use of connector symbols, diamond, squares, etc… Keep it simple, people don’t want to have to learn a whole new language to engage in the workshop. Keeping it simple and accessible means the whole organisation can be engaged in change – not just the process experts. Simple process language explained

  Don’t jump into the detail

It’s all too tempting to spend hours focusing on one part of the problem. You’ll get a far better picture if you start at a higher level, then break it down into the detail as needed. It also means you can get the right people in the room at the right time. Using software means you can drill down into the detail easily later while keeping the process map to one page. 

Hierarchy of Skore Process
How a Skore Process Map Drills Down

  Share it instantly

If you’re doing it right, the content should be shareable by the time the attendees are back at their desk. You want them to be able to review it whilst it’s still fresh in their minds, make that comment, ask that question. Also, they’re more likely to share it with people that didn’t make the workshop, gaining a wider level of feedback.

Using a process mapping software, and our tips, will help you engage on a whole new level. You’ll be able to get to answers quicker, demonstrate instant value and move the audience onto the next stage sooner, be it future process improvements, system implementation, or something else.

Skore is the Process Mapping and Analysis Platform that enables you to map processes in live workshops at the speed of conversation. Create instant insights and dashboards and shareable to everyone. If you’d like a free trial, let us know.

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.

Need to know more about Process Mapping? Read our guide here

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.

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.