What Processes are Relevant to RPA?
The first and foremost thing we should concede is the problems that RPA solves are quite far from problems that AI solves. They can be combined together for more efficiency but their inputs and operations are different. Read more.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is helping a lot of organizations run smarter than before. By tweaking and automating several processes in their daily routines, our customers achieved an increase in the productivity of their employees. Also, it reduced their mental stress of working on mundane and redundant processes every day.
Since it sounds very fancy to many organizations, a lot of them ask us to automate their business processes as well. But, the first step in the automation process will be to analyze and identify the potential processes that have to be automated. The process identified should give them maximum benefits in a short period of time. This is a pretty crucial step, missing it might end up in zero or very negligible ROI. Sometimes, even the project might halt in the middle of development.
In this guide, I’ve written the common factors that influence the automatability of a process. During the analysis phase, I strongly recommend using these to pick and choose the process before development.
Processes with digital inputs#
The first and foremost thing people should have in mind is, problems that RPA solves are quite far from problems that AI solves. They can be combined together for more efficiency but their inputs and operations are different. AI systems are capable of understanding any sort of input and extract meaningful data for their processes. But RPA demands the inputs to be digital so that they can use them with minimal changes.
Having said that, whenever you analyze a process make sure that they have digital inputs for the process to execute. The digital inputs include the following,
- Structure data like excel, CSV, database values
- Scalable values like a web form, screens
- Sensor data
- Data from web services like REST, Soap, etc
And the inputs that don’t work out of the box with RPA and need a preprocessing are
- Scanned Documents
- Audio/Video files
- Unstructured data like free form text
When handling these sorts of inputs, you might have to add a preprocessor like AI systems or any other parsing tools.
Processes with rule-based workflows#
Rule-based processes are highly programmable to run on its own and provide greater accuracy post automation. Try to pick such processes as they go well with automation. Decoupling human dependencies is the main goal of automation. The rule-based workflows help you achieve those far more efficiently than the processes that demand human involvement.
The most common use cases that are rule-based are the following,
- Report Reconciliation
- Data migration between systems
- Pre & Post-processing of various data.
- Audit and Reporting
Processes with less human hands off#
When you step into any organization, not all the processes will be completely rule-based and data-driven. Mainly when you deal with large financial institutions and organizations that involve sensitive actions on data. Such processes will involve a maker and checker step as a mandate to prevent or avoid any mistakes. Eventually, after automation, either the maker or the checker will be a human thus ensuring the process runs properly.
These handoffs often create a dependency and make the process stalled for a certain amount of time. It also reduces the speed and efficiency of the process. So, make sure the processes that you pick don’t have more than two human handoffs.
Processes that run based on schedules#
A lot of time is saved when a set of processes is executed automatically on a regular basis. This ensures humans that they don’t have to worry about executions and focus only on the result or output of the automation.
Scheduling is yet another core of automation and if the processes that we pick don’t run on a planned schedule it might result in higher resource consumption and unplanned executions. When the schedules are not set, then the process should be triggered on an action or a manual method which results in dependency.
Try to pick and choose processes that are schedule-based and run on a regular interval without any dependencies. This, in turn, ensures that the process gives the maximum benefit for the organization. Also, provides leverage to run even when the human workforce is not operating (i,e., public holidays).
On a side note, I’ve written about a lot of other factors you need to consider when approaching an RPA initiative in your organization, do check out my book for an in-depth study on the same. (https://www.skcript.com/books/spearheading-rpa/)