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#COETalks - Selecting the Right Process

Why is it so Important to Select the Right Process as Part of your #Automation Journey?

Welcome back to the latest edition of our #COETalks, in this series we explain what a Centre of Excellence is, why it’s so important to your business success and take a deep dive into some of the best practices we have discovered in our experience. In this video, we are in conversation with Stuart Burns, Head of Automation at ABP and Gary Wright, Delivery Manager at ABP. They discussed opportunity assessment and why selecting the right tasks and processes are key to running a successful COE.

Why is it so Important to Select the Right Process as Part of your Automation Journey?

When we first come in and start working with an organisation there is a real excitement for bringing in RPA. It’s important however to keep people’s interest in the process and the technology. If we pick a process that isn’t suitable for RPA or maybe isn’t a stable process and has a high variation, then it can take a long time to get the project off the ground. In turn, this means stakeholders can lose interest and faith in the project very early on. Therefore it’s important for us to pick a high volume, repeatable and stable process with limited variation.

People within the organisation you go into need to agree on the process. Having their agreement allows us to get the project off the ground a lot quicker and we can start to show the value of the tool a lot quicker. This in turn keeps the stakeholders engaged and excited about what’s the next process they can automate.

We’ve had situations in the past where clients have insisted on picking the wrong processes and we’ve struggled to get the automation program off the ground. That’s why it’s so important that within any new organisation the first few automations are successful. This way you generate a good success rate and good feeling for the stakeholders to see a return on their investment and to carry on their automation journey.

How do you Make Sure You’re Picking the Right Process From a Return of Investment Point of View?

The challenge for a lot of our clients is there’s maybe not a wealth of stable, small processes that generate such a high volume to see the huge return on investment stakeholders would hope to see. What we commonly do is pick a more complex process but cut down around 20% off the actions within that process that are resource-hungry or not as cost-effective. This still results in a significant savings in terms of an investment. It also demonstrates we can, on a complex process, take away some of the pain order, they can see the value of continuing the journey with us and building out a larger programme that tackles some of the bigger more complex challenges they might be facing. This might be invoice processing or automations that require multiple layers of technologies applied over time. It’s also good for an organisational point of view, by going on this journey in stages they have time to get their head around how this new technology will fit into their organisation and how they can work with it.

We do try and discourage going for a too complex process from the start, however this isn’t always the case. Sometimes you are forced into the route of picking a more complex piece of work. In this case, we discuss where can we add the most value to this process. Sometimes you have to start the automation from the endpoint of a product and work your way back. You don’t need to automate the full process at the first call. Trying to automate the process fully from the start can cause a lot of similar issues as choosing one that’s too complex. You can lose the buy-in from stakeholders and it can take too long to get off the ground.

One of the great things about RPA specifically is that you can deliver value quickly. This is why it’s important to automate the “happy path” to start with, which covers around 70% of cases and then we can start to tackle more complex exceptions.

Can you Share some Experience of Working with Automation Where Automation Wasn’t the Answer or More Work Needed to be Done Beforehand?

There’s a bit of a trend where people see automation in action and then suddenly want to automate everything. At ABP however we often have discussions about what needs to be done within a process, is it reengineering and optimising or automating a process. In reality, it should be both. Automating a process that’s inefficient isn’t suddenly going to make it efficient. You really need to do a review three = four-week review of a process before it ends up on a developer’s lap. That will save you so much time and development costs because you start to analyse and remove variations from the process and make it more suitable for automation. This will ultimately increase your return on investment as you don’t need to spend so much time on development.

Automation is a tool and with any piece of work it’s important you use the right tool for the job. It’s no bad thing to have a process that is perhaps not quite ready for automation, even just optimising it can return investment for an organisation. This is something ABP can support organisations with looking at a process and deciding what is best for it moving forward, what will make it more right for automation.


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