Putting Robots to Work

The Robot Way is the best way for RPA

In automating process, it is critical to embrace the “Robot Way” versus encoding how a person would perform the process today (aka “Human way”). Since the automation can easily do both, the Robot Way is an outcome-focused, best-of-breed design approach that blends how a person would perform the tasks with how a computer program would automate them.

Robot Way is focused on outcomes rather than enslaved to how people perform the work. For example, an analyst would need to export data from one system into Excel to perform calculations, whereas a robot can perform these calculations within the software. In this example, the automation isn’t reliant on Excel and its quirks.

Designing the Robot Way can minimize the amount of automations required, build resilience into the process, increase the speed of the automation, and improve the efficiency and cost of implementing the automation itself.

Which processes are ideal for RPA?

RPA is especially suited to particular processes. Choosing the right ones is important. Listed below are some considerations when selecting processes to automate:

  • Process Suitability: The process should be describable, rules-based (not subjective), performed digitally and use primarily structured data. The key candidates should include the 80% that can be done without error, letting humans handle exceptions.
  • Material Value: The process should be important to the company, delivering key benefits to productivity, profitability, speed, etc. Don’t solve problems nobody cares about or that don’t drive value.
  • Buildability & Cost: Be sure the process is actually buildable and that the cost of the automation will be justified. Finding this mix is often the hardest part. Use a methodology to make sure sizing metrics reflect the resources available to build it.
  • Operability: Ensure the ongoing operation of the RPA process will work in terms of staff available to handle the new processes, the right amount of staff for exceptions, and to check for ongoing quality and outcomes. Change management is key to getting this right.
  • Maintainability: Be careful with processes that change frequently or need to be rebuilt often (e.g., because of competitive reasons or constantly shifting regulations). For all processes, you’ll need a program in place to maintain, monitor and update your robots.

Process identification is not a one-time task. We believe it is critical to have an ongoing process led by a team that understands the day-to-day business and is empowered to select ideal priorities for automation. Collectively, these are the living automation backlog.

Example use cases for RPA

Listed below are some of the process-level use cases we’ve identified at various companies we’ve worked with, either by industry or by functional group (e.g., accounting, IT). Use these to get a sense of the type of activities you may pursue with RPA: