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.

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