Technology

How to select the first processes for the implementation of RPA technology? Business process automation in practice

How to select the first processes for the implementation of RPA technology? Business process automation in practice

Is it people either robots or perhaps people alongside robots with more time left for creative tasks? We are for the latter and want to show you the robotisation world, believing it will make it easier for you to decide whether to robotise and what processes to automate. 

RPA (Robotic Process Automation) is about machines performing faster the tasks that humans do by hand 

When you automate business processes using robots that are computer programs, you get the RPA (Robotic Process Automation). Such programs are developed to pretend to be people (operators) performing specific tasks. However,  they are not using a keyboard and a mouse, so they are NOT nuts and bolts robots but software often working on a different connected computer (for more in-depth explanation see this and this article).  

So how do automation and robotisation differ? The former requires the application to be recoded to perform some of the tasks by itself. The latter operates through the user interface (UI) to automate the complete workflow, so it is more universal.   

ML and AI augmenting the capabilities of programmed  process automation

Getting a software "bot" to properly perform its tasks requires firstly programming all steps of its work. Cognitive functions may be implemented using artificial intelligence and machine learning. These will make the software more "predictive". 

  There are many possible applications for artificial intelligence: 

  • producing prognostic models that for instance predict the sales and methods of raw material procurement as well as potential outages at manufacturing contractors, 
  • voicebots and chatbots (assistants, especially voice-based, are attractive tools for young people, facilitating their work. 
  • converting unstructured text to structured text for instance in case of complaints entered via a free-text website field, 

To cut a long story short, in this process the system is provided with a big volume of data for learning, then uses the examples and based on a chosen statistical model it draws its own responses, suggestions or conclusions – most of which are accurate.

Robotisation using the process modelling engine 

One needs to bear in mind that the process robotisation does not mean their complete transformation (it only allows modifying specific tasks, at most), whereas its additional benefits are scaling, acceleration and improvement of quality of processes. Thus not every process will easily yield to robotisation (in addition to multiple criteria it should first and foremost be optimised), but once successfully implemented, the robotisation also provides ample room for modelling.  

Business Process Management (BPM) tools are provided in the modern (and automated, for sure) ERP systems. They can be used to easily create a new or modify an existing process (with no advanced IT skills required).  Check out our article for more information about the automated Enterprise Resource Planning systems and when it makes sense to implement them. And definitely take a look at what intelligent processes can offer in addition.  

It takes effort to automate a process 

Regardless of developing a long enough list of potential automation candidate processes and their correct selection with help from specialists (business analysts and IT consultants), successful automation takes several other factors.  

A profit and loss analysis and situational assessment conducted correctly, individual stages moderation (including proof of concept and the pilot), blending with the organisational culture, collaboration with IT people and correct allocation of HR are the key metrics of success of implementation. They take a strong involvement and also broad knowledge. 

Dealing with your company's digital transformation? Interested in training or studies in the business process robotisation? Just interested in what the pay may be and contemplating a career? Take a look at our offering: 

Top BP automation tools 

There are quite a lot of tools for automation, surely they should be selected in function of what they will be used for. They will be different in the case of robotisation of production, accounting or office processes.  

Mindbox provides implementations using the OCR, AI- and User Interface-based systems. This allows unrestricted juggling with the solutions and navigating around the databases and the API.  

For instance, at Scania Polska, Mindbox has rolled out among others a robotised posting of purchase invoices using utilities such as ABBYY® FlexiCapture® or UiPath and the support of AI (Applica) and ERP and DMS systems. Click for more info:  

Things to consider when choosing an RPA platform 

The corporate sponsor of the robotisation project will surely wish to know how to adapt the RPA system to the organisation's requirements to get a fast ROI and successful outcome of the complete investment. The top criteria to consider are: 

  • vendor's experience and partnering with local companies, 
  • top-notch security standards,  
  • training materials and technical support availability,  
  • various automation options support, 
  • adaptability to the organisation's IT structure and ease of integration,  
  • robot configuration functionality and pure process automation functionality, 
  • cost (licence fee vs. maintenance fee).  

Need advice on the above? Contact us.  

Qualitative criteria for RPA implementation suitability 

As already mentioned, not every process will yield to robotisation. In addition to having been optimised it has to pass the following quantitative criteria: 

  • it must have a potential for savings,   
  • it has to be manual and based on rules,  
  • the system processing method cannot change, 
  • has to have a standard and readable electronic input type.  

Quantitative criteria in process selection versus the implementation benefits  

There are also the quantitative factors like repeatability, high volume, maturity, constancy and low rate of exceptions that will result in bigger benefits of robotisation also in terms of time savings and rarer needs to modify the automation robots.  

At Mindbox we weigh the processes for the complication of their automation against the benefits it may bring. There are four distinct categories (listed below in the order the robotisation should be done): 

  • quick wins – processes the automation of which is not complex and that can provide big benefits, 
  • low-hanging fruit – processes the complication of the automation of which is not very high but so are the benefits, 
  • necessary improvements – may provide huge benefits but their automation is very complex, 
  • long-term improvements – relatively low benefits with the high complexity of automation. 

Optimising long-lasting processes with the OCR

With the RPA solutions, the OCR technology provides invaluable support. AI-powered OCRs (the "iOCR”) process documents of multiple types and convert unstructured strings into structured data that they then integrate with the other systems in use at the company. As a result, the operator's engagement is reduced to the bare minimum.  

The iOCR systems may be used with great results to automate the posting of supplier invoices, for instance. Read here how it is done in practice and what are the other available ways to speed up the work of the operations teams.      

See our catalogue for what business project automation processes it makes sense to start with! 

The Catalogue of Business Process Automation Projects that we developed shows the possibilities offered by the RPA. They are arranged in order of implementation complexity and the benefits provided, to make your decision on their selection easier. We are also at your service with professional advice – contact  us if you are considering robotic automation. Be sure to check what the innovative Cloud Native technology can bring you.