How many business processes hinge on tedious, repetitive tasks? What percentage of skilled employees spend valuable hours each day entering and manipulating data? No matter how you slice it, human brainpower is often wasted on menial activities, and it doesn’t need to be.
With the rise of “software robots” companies are improving efficiency and accuracy of back-end processes, allowing employees to focus on the tasks that matter most. Robotic process automation (RPA) promises to be a driving force to improve processes—and productivity—across organizations. However, RPA is just like any complex tool, and placement matters; using a chainsaw in lieu of a pair of scissors will speed up results, but it might not be the most effective allocation of resources.
As attractive as low investment costs and simplified processes are, it’s important that you don’t rush blindly into an RPA initiative. It can take weeks or months to identify the areas that would benefit from the automation itself, and to calibrate the rules behind it.
Recent studies indicate that ROI from RPA deployment can vary enormously (from 30% to 200%), depending on how effectively automation is aligned to processes. So, how can you ensure proper alignment, and ensure you get the highest possible value from your investment?
Before implementing RPA, it’s important for you to have full transparency into your business processes. That way you can easily identify which ones would benefit from automation, and why. Again, this is critical because if a process is already flawed, RPA will only make a bad process faster.
Process mining technology enables your business to stop operating in the dark and “turn on the lights” to see how your processes run in reality. Using the tremendous amount of data that has already accumulated in your company’s IT systems, process mining automatically reconstructs the way you work and finds areas where you can improve.
Best of all, process mining takes away the trial, error and guesswork. By highlighting which processes are handled efficiently and the root causes of less optimal operations, you don’t have to worry about identifying the correct areas to automate. With that kind of objective transparency, executives can prioritize the best opportunities in their RPA deployment.
This is important, as implementing RPA ineffectively requires a lot of manual effort to correct. As with any technology solution, automation can fail. Automation can also make a business process less flexible, possibly leading to errors that need to be re-worked.
When you invest $1 in an RPA platform, you typically need to invest $10 in consulting to identify which processes would benefit from automation. That means if you invest $100,000 in RPA, you need an additional $1,000,000 in consulting costs! With process mining, however, you can save up to 70% of those consulting costs and invest your money in other areas of your business.
We’ve seen many Celonis customers successfully deploy their RPA initiatives with the help of process mining. For example, global telecom giant Vodafone discovered many orders with the longest throughput times showed multiple deviations from the standard process. Celonis Process Mining was able to determine how RPA could replicate the humans’ role faster and without error, saving the company valuable time and money. In turn, without the previous purchasing bottlenecks, Vodafone was able to improve time to market by 20%.
An impressive result, yet just one example of how process mining adds value by quickly investigating all scenarios to help you design a new process that meets your specific needs. Process mining can also play a significant role in the deployment and follow-up of your RPA initiative: by reducing the time-consuming work of programming software robots, and monitoring for any post-deployment glitches so you achieve the seamless implementation you dreamed of.
RPA can help address business process complexity, increase efficiencies and dramatically reduce costs. But to be successful, organizations need full transparency into which processes can benefit from the automation, and how. That’s where process mining becomes the hero, quickly determining the ideal processing times and most efficient process structures to help an organization succeed—and safeguard an already expensive investment.
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