The practical side of business process automation – how to select the first processes to automate using the RPA technology?
People vs. robots or people with robots and more time for creative work?
We definitely believe in the second option and want to take you on a tour of the world of robotisation, trusting it will help you with the decision as to whether and what processes to robotise.
What is RPA (Robotic Process Automation) about – meaning what a human does manually, a machine will do faster
The RPA (Robotic Process Automation) is about automating business processes using software robots. In practice, it is achieved with the development of software that mimics the tasks performed by a human (an operator). Thus, process robotisation is NOT about building a physical robot but a software one often running on a separate computer (for details see here.
So what then is automation and what is robotisation? Automation requires modifications to the application software so that it performs some actions by itself. Te robotisation in turn utilises the user interface to automate the entire workflow, making it more versatile.
ML and AI bring benefits from a pre-programmed process automation
For a bot to do its job well and cope with its tasks, all the steps of its work need to be programmed in advance. Artificial intelligence and machine learning allow to also implement cognitive functions that make the software more “anticipatory”.
In short, the process involves the delivery of a big volume of training data, then the system basing on examples and utilising a specific statistical model reaches its own, mostly correct responses, recommendations or interpretations.
Artificial intelligence finds many uses, particularly in:
- prognostic models (e.g. forecasts of sales and including the raw materials ordering method or potential downtime in manufacturing companies),
- conversion of free text to structured text, useful in case of incoming emails with complaints,
- providing voicebots and chatbots as assistants, particularly voice assistants, making the work of young people easier.
Process modelling engine-driven robotisation
Process robotisation by no means is their total transformation (at most it allows modifying specific activities), however, its additional benefits are scalability, acceleration and quality improvement. This means that not every process will be a good candidate for robotisation (besides several different criteria it should firstly be optimised), however, if already successfully implemented, it also provides quite broad modelling possibilities.
For instance, the BPM (Business Process Management) tools are available in modern (and surely automated) ERP systems. They allow easy creation of a new process or modification of an existing one (without a need for advanced IT skills). For more information about automated Enterprise Resource Planning systems and when to implement them, check what intelligent processes can offer.
Automating a process takes commitment
Besides setting up a sufficiently long list of processes that potentially could be automated and rightly filtering it down under the watchful eyes of specialists (business analysts and IT consultants), the automation, if it is to succeed, requires many other factors.
A correct profit and loss analysis, situation assessment, moderating individual stages (including proof of concept and the pilot), adaptation to the organisational culture, collaboration with the IT department and appropriate allocation of human resources are the key conditions to a successful implementation. They require not only strong commitment but also a lot of knowledge.
Are you in charge of the digital transformation of your company? Want to get trained in or study the BPR? Or just to learn the possible salary range and about career opportunities? See what we can offer:
The most popular business process automation tools
Automation tools are plentiful; their selection should surely match their intended use. Everything depends on, among others, whether it is a robotisation of the manufacturing processes, accounting processes or office processes.
Mindbox implements solutions using OCR-, AI- and UI-based systems. This allows matching and mixing solutions and navigating the databases and the API.
For example, in Scania Polska we have implemented automated posting of procurement invoices, among others, using tools such as ABBYY® FlexiCapture® or UiPath and supported by artificial intelligence (Applica) as well as an ERP and DMS system. For more information see:
What to consider when selecting an RPA platform?
The sponsor of the robotics-related work will definitely want to know how to match the RPA platform to the organisation’s needs to get a fast return on investment and a successful project. These are the most important criteria to consider:
- supplier’s experience and collaboration with the local partner companies,
- availability of training materials and technical support,
- high security standards,
- possibility to adapt to the IT structure of the organisation and easy integration,
- functionality for configuring the robots and the very automation of the processes,
- support for various automation variants,
- cost (licence fee vs. maintenance fee).
Looking for advice on this? Get in touch with us.
Qualitative criteria relating to RPA solutions implementations
As mentioned above, not every process can be robotised. Besides optimisation, it also has to meet the following quantitative requirements:
- besides being manual it has to be rules-based,
- must have a standard and legible electronic input type,
- a constant system processing method,
- savings potential.
Quantitative criteria of process selection and the benefits from the implementation
Repeatability, high volume, maturity, stability and low incidence of exceptions are in turn the quantitative factors translating to higher benefits from the robotisation, time savings and less frequent modifications of the application robots.
At Mindbox we assess processes for the complexity of automation versus the benefits of its implementation. We apply four different categories listed below (in the order the robotisation should be implemented):
- quick wins – processes relatively simple to automate that can yield big benefits, however,
- low-hanging fruit – processes not too complex to automate but bringing moderate benefits,
- necessary improvements– potential huge benefits, however very complex to automate,
- long-term improvements – not too many benefits from highly complex automation.
How to automate time-consuming processes using the OCR technology?
When implementing RPA solutions, OCR technology is indispensable. Intelligent OCRs (called “iOCR”) can handle many document types and convert unstructured data into structured data and then integrate these with other systems used in the company. This reduces the operator involvement to a minimum.
The iOCR systems may be successfully used, for example, for automated posting of purchase invoices..
Check which business project automation processes to pick for starters from our catalogue!
To showcase the possibilities offered by the Robotic Process Automation we have developed the Catalogue of Business Process Automation Projects. They are sorted by their complexity of implementation and the benefits provided, so as to facilitate the decision-making process. You are also welcome to use our professional assistance – just get in touch with us if you are considering robotisation. Also, see what possibilities the innovative Cloud Native has in store.