The introduction of the PC in the 80s and later Microsoft Office in 90s really created a paradigm shift in enterprise productivity. Almost instantly every office worker had a PC (and later Laptop and now mobile device) and Microsoft office productivity suite became a defacto standard. Applications like Excel and Access not to mention Microsoft word and powerpoint became highly popular with office or knowledge workers. Excel became a hit with number crunching departments such as Finance and Accounting. With productivity came newfound power as it really helped the office worker rely on themselves instead of depending on IT for every simple task. Pretty soon what the Lines of Business or LOBs applications could not do was being done by office workers using Excel. It is a common fact that in most enterprises business processes are broken across systems boundaries and often users resort to Excel to bridge the connection between disparate systems. This requires importing data from one system and using it to generate the desired result which can then be updated into another system to continue the business process. While this gets the work done and the business process is completed successfully it adds to repeating the sequence of tasks manually each time required. In my consulting work with Insurance and Banking clients, I have seen this happen across many business processes. This makes the business processes less efficient, error-prone, people dependent and adds to the inertia and non-value added work that costs the organization a lot of money in wasted effort and time.
So what is the solution? The short answer is to automate such tasks that are frequent, manual, repetitive, and non-value add by using what is called Robotic Process Automationor RPA in short. There are many vendors in this space but one that I specialize in and is the fastest growing is called UiPath (https://www.uipath.com/ )
That was the short answer but there is a long answer as well. I have always maintained that any business is as good as its business processes and the people and systems that support those processes. However, not enough attention is paid to the processes in a holistic manner or their end to end state. Processes run across different departments and the systems and people supporting them can be different across department boundaries. Many times systems are bought to solve specific problems that the departments may be facing. This creates process inefficiencies as there can be different owners and systems across departments for the same process. Often, what is done or not done upstream or midstream in a process journey can have significant consequences downstream that add to additional work and wasted effort and time. Therefore, it becomes imperative that a process assessment and diagnosis be done before embarking on a process automation journey and to fix the inefficiencies before RPA is undertaken as there is really no point in automating an inefficient process.
Here are the steps we follow in guiding clients on their RPA journey as part of our proprietary RPA Implementation Methodology.
Create a process repository or inventory list of critical business processes that are good candidates for automation. (we provide the criteria for identification and selection)
Select a business process for automation from the list that would be a good candidate for automation for Proof of Value.
Document the current state; Perform process Diagnostics to eliminate any inefficiencies and document the automated state. Please note that you are not just automating the current state but modifying it to better suit automation and make it more efficient.
PoV or proof of value runs for 4 weeks, Week 1: Document and asses current state and design automated state, Deliverable is PDD (Process Design Document; Week 2: Architect and Create a well thought out Solution Design that has best practices, Deliverable is SDD (Solution Design Document); Week 3: Build & Test the solution in UiPath; Week 4: UAT and Demo the PoV Solution to Executive sponsor and get “go ahead” for next stage.
Next Stage: We call this BIC or Build Internal Capabilities within the organization to support and scale RPA implementation. The main objective of this phase is to create a Robotic Operation Centre or ROC aka Centre of Excellence or CoE. The ROC has execution team with well-defined roles and responsibilities e.g. Process Analyst, Project Manager, Infrastructure Engineer, Solution Architect. It has all the procedures and structures in place to manage RPA scaling e.g. Governance, Change Control/Management. Continuous Delivery, Scaled RPA implementation Methodology.
Choose a set of 4 additional processes and guide the internal team towards production implementation using our proprietary Scaled RPA Framework. This takes about 8-10 weeks.
Beyond this, it depends on the scope of our engagement if further help is required.
To learn and discuss how Robotic Process Automation can work in your organization including an implementation roadmap from start to end please contact me either through Linked IN https://www.linkedin.com/in/jkala/ or by submitting your contact information through our website