How To Get The Most Out Of Robotic Process Automation

Ethan Stine / June 16, 2017

How To Get The Most Out Of Robotic Process Automation

Process Mining Helps Organizations Easily Identify Which Business Processes Will Benefit From Automation

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.

Robotic process automation (RPA) promises to be a driving force to improve processes – and productivity – across organizations. 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. 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.

Recent studies indicate that ROI from RPA deployment can vary enormously (from 30% to 200%), depending on how effectively automation is aligned to respective processes. So, how can you ensure proper alignment to get the most out of your RPA initiative? How can you be certain that you get the most possible value from your investment?

As attractive as low investment costs and simplified processes are, it’s important not to rush your organization into a RPA initiative blindly. RPA deployment can take organizations weeks and months to identify the areas that would benefit from the automation itself, and to calibrate the rules behind it. For example, take a service center with hundreds of employees posting invoices: how would you know what to automate without sifting through thousands of individual cases looking for repetitive tasks?

“Shining the light” to Identify Where Efforts are Needed

Before implementing RPA, it’s important for an organization to have full transparency into its business processes to easily identify which ones would benefit from automation, and why - bearing in mind that if a process is already flawed, RPA will only make a bad process faster. Celonis customers are using Process Mining to build the foundation for successful RPA initiatives with great success. Process Mining allows organizations to stop operating in the dark and “turn on the lights” to see how the organization’s processes run in reality. The technology uses the tremendous amount of data accumulated in an organization’s IT systems to understand human behavior, automatically reconstruct the way the organization works, and find ways to improve.

Process Mining takes the guesswork out of how business processes are operating, easily highlighting which processes are handled efficiently, where the organization needs to improve, and how to fix troubled areas. Organizations that deploy Process Mining alongside RPA no longer have to worry about identifying the correct areas to automate – the technology removes the trial, error and guesswork. With full transparency, executives can’t overlook opportunities in their robotic process automation 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 make a business process less flexible, which can cause errors that need to be re-worked. So, when you automate a task, you may find it works for the typical case, but may fail for the exceptional, unordinary case.

Achieving Success With Robotic Process Automation and Process Mining

We’ve seen many of our customers successfully deploy their robotic process automation initiatives, with the help of Process Mining. For example, Process Mining alerted global telecom giant Vodafone that many of the company’s orders with the longest throughput times were experiencing multiple deviations from the standard process before the purchase order was even released to the supplier – and Celonis highlighted instantly where Vodafone could improve by deploying RPA. Since a high level of human interaction was still needed in these transactions, Celonis Process Mining was able to determine how RPA could easily and automatically replicate the humans’ role without error and at a faster speed, saving the company valuable time and money. In turn, with debottlenecking the purchasing operation, Vodafone was able to improve time to market by 20%.

While that end result is impressive, Process Mining can also save a lot of time and energy getting there too. For example, programming software robots can be extremely tedious and time consuming because consultants are required to train automated robots to do every single, little action. Take automated hotlines, for example. When you call a company’s customer service line and get an automated agent, the program isn’t always able to help with your specific need. Sometimes it seems like ages before you find what you’re looking for, and sometimes the program isn’t able to help at all.

As a consultant trying to improve an automated phone system, you’d need to take the time to imagine and examine the thousands of scenarios an automated agent may face, and then be sure to program all of them into the system. If an organization has full transparency into how customer calls are handled, it’s much easier to calibrate the rules to ensure successful automated agents down the road. That’s where Process Mining comes into play, providing total visibility and slashing the time needed to identify, examine and implement every “if-then” scenario. Process Mining also automatically uncovers any bugs that will inevitably pop up over the first few weeks of deployment, so you can achieve that seamless implementation you dreamed of, while saving time and money.

Need more proof? When an organization invests $1 in a RPA platform, they typically need to invest $10 in consulting to identify which business processes would benefit from automation. Therefore, if an organization invests $100,000 in robotic process automation, it needs to invest $1,000,000 in consulting. With Process Mining, the investment in consulting is reduced by up to 70%, saving the organization valuable time and money.

Needless to say, robotic process automation can help address business process complexity, increase efficiencies and dramatically reduce costs. But, to be successful, organizations need full transparency into which business 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 business process structures to help an organization succeed – and to help safeguard an already expensive investment.

 

 

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