We are continuing our series of blog posts about business process improvement within robotic process automation technology (RPA) and today I’d like to explain to you how to implement RPA in 2019 step by step. Within business process improvement, RPA is definitely in first place for now. Still, for many of us, it’s something new and undiscovered, if you’re still wondering what RPA is, read the most comprehensive article for non-technical people or find out about free RPA training here. For those who’re already familiar with the concept, I’ve prepared a thorough roadmap on how to implement RPA as business process automation end to end.
How to implement RPA as business process improvement?
1. Eligible business processes identification
As a rule, this step falls under the responsibility of BAs (Business Analysts) or a COE (Center of Excellence) department. For business process improvement, they first need to examine which business processes are eligible for RPA. The rule of thumb here is to select processes which are based on certain rules, including repeated actions, and have few or no exceptions. In addition, Nice recommends automating business processes with structured input, continuous implementation time, high manual error rate, frequent rekeying of data, and customer experience focus. At last, they need to define the cases in which business process automation will bring the most value to the company.
2. ROI calculation
In the case of business process automation, many companies choose to implement RPA, not only because it increases productivity, but also owing to an easy ROI (Return of Investment) calculation. Ask the RPA vendors you’re interested in how much their automation solutions cost – it usually ranges from $5,000 to $10,000 per year. In some cases of business process improvement, one robot replaces one employee, while in other cases, several robots can accomplish the work of hundreds of people. Usually, the RPA solution is 65% less expensive than full-time workers. So, ROI is easy to calculate, but make sure you correctly define all the data.
3. Process discovery
One of the most important, yet frequently underestimated, steps is this one – the process discovery or business process design. Once RPA business analyst selects the processes eligible for automation solutions, process analysis comes in handy to realize not only how to implement RPA but also which business processes to automate and in what way. As a result, this information is presented with process documentation. Usually, business process analyst completes this procedure “manually” – they interview employees and document the way they complete the process, analyze the data and prepare long reports to design robot requirements. Then they pass the specifications to RPA developers and finally get the first version of a bot – after months of development.
Another option here is to make use of process capturing tools to create process documentation. At this point, you may also want to calculate ROI of process discovery tools – estimate how much would it cost to pay business analysts to capture the processes eligible for automation and how much the process capturing tool application will cost. Such tools are offered by the majority of RPA vendors. In particular, they are provided by UiPath, Kryon, Kofax, but their capturing program is reported as not intuitively clear and has poor scalability, thus needs some improvement and user-friendly experience. In turn, StepShot announces the upcoming release of a new version of their product with special RPA functionality for business process automation solutions. Initially, StepShot Guides has been a tool for process capturing aimed at creating SOPs, runbooks, guides, process documentation, training, and video tutorials. Its newest update sounds promising – among the other features, they deploy a process discovery tool designed to simplify the work of a business process analyst and other process automation specialists. In a nutshell, the tool can capture user clicks, generate screenshots and descriptions to user actions, and deliver process design documentation (PDD) providing general info on the captured process (read how it works here). It also accomplishes the tasks of a business process analyst many times faster, and instead of doing the manual process discovery described above, the professionals save time for more important tasks. What’s even more interesting, StepShot has integration with UiPath, so you don’t need to build the actual robot to discover how it works – just create a prototype of a UiPath robot with StepShot based on the captured process.
4. Automation solutions introduction & workshop
Even in business process automation solutions, it’s really about the people. When the process to be automated is discovered and possible benefits from automation are assessed, you can propose a compelling RPA solution for executives. The keywords for you will be RPA, AI, and ROI. The first two make company leaders feel compelled to invest nowadays. As for ROI, top managers want to know the positive number in any investment. As for the team, no one wants to wake up one day and discover that their services are no longer needed. It is necessary to have an open and honest discussion with employees about what automation will change. Key points here are talent development, skills improvement, more creative tasks, and higher positions. You may also need to hold a workshop to convince the management and team on the benefits of the suggested RPA solution.
5. RPA tools selection & robot production
There is plenty of different RPA tools on the market and the niche is growing fast. Many of the best RPA tools are simply powerful macro bots that can copy human behavior. Yet others comprise a range of services needed for end-to-end RPA implementation. As long as there is a standard process involving digital data, there is a wide choice of tools for a business process analyst. All you need to do is to pass your robot specifications and prototype (if you have any) to the team who will develop the robot using selected RPA tools.
Here are the top players in the world of RPA tools:
When choosing an RPA tool, a business process analyst should make sure it suits the needs of the company. Recently, we’ve published an advanced report on RPA tools 2019 including a thorough analysis of the RPA giants and startups along with their strengths and weaknesses.
6. Evaluation, improvement, support, retraining
Once your robot is ready, you need to execute RPA testing and evaluate its performance. Make sure to engage SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) to this task, gather their feedback, and make sure any defects are fixed and feature requests are satisfied. After the final automation solutions improvements, it just needs technical support to make sure it runs correctly and any issues are immediately fixed. In case this is not a self-learning robot, in some time, it may need retraining – for this reason, business process analyst should edit robot requirements and pass them to development.
By and large, this is a guide for non-technical people on how to implement RPA for business process improvement. If you like it, stay tuned – we’ll share more articles on RPA implementation soon!