A large number of businesses are adopting Robotic Process Automation (RPA) today to drive their critical enterprise operations quickly and affordably. Although RPA provides a broad range of automation capabilities, you must initially identify the business processes that are suitable for automation. This allows your business to improve operational efficiencies and achieve positive outcomes.

For instance, some companies achieve better outcomes when implementing rule-based automation when compared to non-standardized, variable types. Forrester recently reported that RPA Market will reach USD 2.9 billion by 2021, which makes it one of the most sought-after enterprise technologies. The picture is clear: it is crucial for companies to know the different ways to determine which of their business processes need automation.

This post attempts to walk you through the major questions and answers which can help you decide the candidature of a process for Robotic Process Automation:

Criteria to determine if a process is fit for RPA automation

Deciding whether a business process requires RPA implementation or not depends on two criteria:

  • Process Fitness
  • Automation Complexity

Process Fitness

To assess whether implementing RPA can yield tangible results for a process, it is crucial to initially comprehend the type of process under consideration. RPA can automate only clear and well-defined processes. For this, it is first required to know which category the workforce’s tasks belong to:

Repetitive/Automatable processes

Automatable processes relieve the human workforce from performing repetitive tasks such as clerical and data entry works or data manipulation tasks. Automating such redundant tasks allows human workers to focus on core, value-adding functions.

We can differentiate four types of processes:

  1. Manual and Non-Repetitive Processes: Humans execute the steps each time the process is carried out.
  2. Manual and Repetitive Processes: The user performs the steps, and some of these steps remain consistent each time they are executed.
  3. Semi-Automated and Repetitive Processes: Certain steps within these processes have been automated using techniques such as Macros, Outlook rules, and similar approaches.
  4. Automated Processes: These processes are ones that technologies other than Robotic Process Automation have already automated.

While the above four are somewhat repetitive/ automatable, there is another category: Manual Or Non-Repetitive processes that are not great candidates for RPA. This is because these processes need to stay manual or are non-repetitive due to the high exception rate or factors that cannot be integrated into business logic.

Rule-Based Processes

For a process to be automated, it should be rules-based. Human-made rules are applied based on which the system executes the process. Rules can be related to storing, sorting, and manipulating data. The rules-based system is a logical program that uses a predefined logic to interpret data or make decisions. These processes are always easy to use and understand. The rules-based processes have an exception rate which is either low or can be included in the business logic as well.

Standard Input Processes

Certain steps within these processes have been automated using techniques like Macros, Outlook rules, and similar approaches. An example of a standard input process is the OCR. The Optical Character Recognition or OCR algorithms have processes whereby printed or handwritten documents are scanned and analyzed automatically and the text data is converted into editable formats for efficient processing. Using OCR is a much more reliable way to automate tasks such as invoice processing.

Stable Processes 

Stable processes are processes that have remained the same over some time and no changes are expected in the coming months. These processes are good candidates for automation, provided they meet with other critical criteria as well. The output of these processes is fairly predictable.

Automation Complexity

The count of elements that need to be captured and configured is directly linked to the number of screens. For example, a larger number of screens corresponds to a greater quantity of elements that require capture and configuration before process automation.

Following are some of the factors you need to look at:

Number of Screens:

RPA in this scenario works by programming the robot to perform functions at the screen level. In this context, we teach the logic to adapt when the screen changes. The number of screens directly correlates with the count of elements requiring capture and configuration. For instance, a higher number of screens corresponds to an increased quantity of elements necessitating capture and configuration before process automation.

Types of Applications:

There are different types of applications. Some can be easily automated such as the Microsoft Office Suite or Java. Some other processes require complex automation effort, such as Mainframe applications.

Business Logic Scenarios:

The complexity in automating a process increases with the increase in the number of decision points within the business logic.

Types and Number of Inputs:

Standard Inputs are desirable. For example, automation will affect an invoice which serves as a standard input and requires configuration for each supplier. On the other hand, non-standard inputs will have varying complexity grades. Among these, free text is the most complex one.

By utilizing the aforementioned four factors, we can categorize the processes into four major categories:

No RPA Processes

These are processes in which change happens frequently. The system environment experiences volatility and requires multiple non-digital or manual actions.

Semi-Automation Processes

We fragment semi-automated processes into multiple steps that we then automate. These steps include the ones that need to be manual such as the validations of physical security tokens.

High-Cost RPA Processes

These processes are digital and lend themselves to automation. High-cost RPA processes either make use of some complex technologies such as Optical Character Recognition or OCR or require advanced skills in programming.

Zero-Touch Automation Processes

These processes are digital and involve a highly static system and process environment. This simplifies the process of breaking it down into instructions and defining straightforward triggers.

The Stages in RPA Implementation

RPA provides numerous methods to enhance the level of automation. RPA implementation typically involves six common stages.

  1. RPA Preparation: In this phase, we define, assess, prioritize the processes, and then implement the plan.
  2. Designing the Solution: In this phase, we document each process to be automated, depicting both the “as is” and “to be” states. Subsequently, we generate and review the architecture. Afterward, we prepare test scenarios and environments, followed by creating and documenting the solution design for each process.
  3. Building the RPA: In RPA development, we automate the processes, test and validate the workflows. Afterward, we prepare for User Acceptance Testing (UAT).
  4. Testing the RPA: Now, we conduct the UAT, and then we debug the workflows. Lastly, we ready the process for sign-off.
  5. Stabilizing the RPA: In this phase, we first prepare for the Go-Live. Then, we transition the process to production, where we monitor and measure its performance. Finally, we document the lessons learned.
  6. Constant Improvement Phase: This phase involves the assessment of process automation performance. Afterwards, we proceed to track the benefits and manage the changes.

Utilizing RPA Effectively

Every company planning to use/already using RPA applies automation to fulfill different operational goals. While businesses at the beginning of their RPA journey want to uncomplicate and rapidly execute their workflows, the veterans in RPA might wish to expand the scope of their existing automation solution and improve their regulatory compliance. Each one wants to leverage technology differently.

Whatever your goal is, Fingent helps businesses in leveraging RPA to deliver high business value, drive significant cost benefits, and enable technology to have a positive impact on your operational activities. Get in touch with us to know how we can realize your automation goals.