Operational Excellence

What type of processes are suitable for RPA?

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Projective blog 24 RPA processes
Projective blog 24 RPA processes

According to Global Intelligent Automation Market Report, poor choice of process for initial pilot is the number one cause of implementation failures. It is accounting for 38% of all intelligent automation failures. We have therefore provided some guidance and advice below to ensure your robotics process automation (RPA) journey is set for success.

What types of processes should I choose?

RPA is best suited to highly manual and repetitive activities. Typical task examples include: data entry, reconciliation, data transfer, report generation, data processing, archiving and data mapping. Within financial services specifically, common use cases include: client onboarding, mortgage approvals, invoice processing, loan processing, account opening and closing, trade execution and KYC.

Unsurprisingly, the main consideration for process selection is suitability for RPA. This can be broken down into four key criteria:

  • Rule based decisions: no human judgement/decision making. Decisions are rule based and logical, thus able to be depicted on a decision tree i.e. input – process – expected outpu
  • Digital data inputs: printed, scanned, PDF, handwritten or paper documents are unsuitable as these are non-digital inputs (however such processes are compatible with more advanced intelligent automation technologies such as machine learning, OCR etc.)
  • Structured data: contains structured data and structured inputs such as templates and stable databases
  • Highly repetitive and stable: based on a standardised repeatable process (ideally clearly documented) and should not be expected to undergo significant changes in the near future

Helpful tip: With the above suitability criteria in mind, it’s worth noting that RPA is not always the silver bullet. Thus it is important to choose use cases that are suitable and optimal for RPA. Many organisations make the mistake of investing in a Centre of Excellence (COE) and shoehorning processes into the RPA bucket, when in reality alternative solutions may have been better suited. E.g. a straight through processing (STP), business process management (BPM) or workflow solution.

How should I shortlist and prioritise processes?

Once you have selected your candidates, the next decision point is how to shortlist and prioritise them. Using the criteria below, grouping processes using a heatmap method is a useful tool for decision making:

  • Automation potential: based on the technical suitability criteria above, what % of the overall task/process can be automated (higher % the better).
  • Complexity: how complex is the process to automate. Are there a large number of systems involved, decision points, process steps and exceptions.
  • Benefits: which processes yield the most benefits/ROI. This measure is dependent on your driving factor(s) for automating; and the most common is FTE impact. However, it’s important to note that there are many other viable benefits of automating, for example, reduced operational risk.

Can I increase the automation potential of a process?

Often processes may not yield a high automation potential on face value, however in many cases this can be increased significantly by incorporating two complementary solutions:

Process enhancements

By making small changes to the inputs, calculation method or outputs of a process, this can have a significant impact on automation potential. As an example, if a report or status update is not generated in a standard format, it would fail on the ‘structured data’ suitability criteria. However, if little effort would be required to introduce a template/standard format, it could be worthwhile to do so.

Combine with other Intelligent Automation technologies

RPA can be defined as solving the ‘hand work’ element of a process whereas other intelligent automation technologies can be defined as the ‘head work’ (i.e. more thinking and judgement based). Therefore, in many cases, combining these technologies can increase the automation potential drastically. As an example, if part of process includes copying new customer data from a scanned document into a core banking system, it would fail on the ‘digital inputs’ suitability criteria. However, if OCR technologies were incorporated into the solution, this could also promote it to automation compatible status

My processes are selected, now what?

One of the biggest lessons learnt from RPA implementations, is to start small and build gradually. Before embarking on a large-scale programme, start with a proof of concept (POC) or pilot. When selecting a pilot, it is crucial to start with small, low complexity process. This is often a sub-part of a larger process. This will drastically increase your chances of success. Successful delivery of a POC or pilot will prove the viability of the technology and serve to secure buy in from the organisation.

Interested to know more about RPA and its implementation? Don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re always up for a good chat.