Discovering RPA Gold: How Value Chain Mapping Helps Organizations Identify and Prioritize Automation Opportunities

Published By R-Path Automation

Published On November 17, 2023

Imagine your business as a vast landscape rich with hidden veins of gold, waiting to be discovered and mined. These gold veins are the untapped efficiencies and opportunities lying dormant within your everyday processes. Unearthing and leveraging these resources can revolutionize your operations, but the question remains: how do you find and exploit these valuable assets?  

The decision to adopt robotic process automation (RPA) marks a pivotal step towards innovation and efficiency. As a forward-thinking executive, you understand the immense potential of automation – not just as a tool but as a transformative capability. It promises to streamline operations, enhance productivity, and create a substantial return on investment.  

But what's the next step? You might already have an inkling of where automation could streamline your operations, but how do you evolve this into a sustainable, long-term automation strategy? 

It's tempting to dive straight into development with your selected Robotic Process Automation (RPA) platform. However, the key to success lies in knowing where to focus for the greatest return on investment. The approach to uncovering these opportunities varies, especially based on your organization's specific needs, size, and goals to scale.  

Ahead you have a couple of potential paths forward: one involves sophisticated process discovery software, while the other engages in strategic value chain mapping. Here’s a quick overview of each one:  

Process Discovery Software: This technology automatically maps your business's processes by combining process mining and task capture technology. It delves into analyzing business process data to unearth trends and insights, revealing the real state of these processes within your company. It works best for large organizations that have multiple people doing the same kinds of work. The higher the volume of tasks and people doing them – the better.



Process Discovery Software 

Value Chain Mapping 


  • Automatic process mapping 
  • Detailed data insights 
  • Tailored to specific business needs 
  • More budget-friendly 


  • Expensive and complex to manage 
  • Too much data to synthesize 
  • More time-consuming at the front end 
  • Caution: potential for subjective bias by participants 


Value Chain Mapping: This approach visually outlines your company's activities and processes, illuminating how each step adds value. It’s not just about identifying automation opportunities; it’s about understanding where efficiency can be maximized. When approached strategically, it also reveals areas of duplicate efforts and thus potential savings.  


Each path will help you find automation opportunities, but for small to mid-size businesses just beginning and looking for quick and efficient ROI, value chain mapping (VCM) is usually the way to go. This is due to the fact that most smaller companies don’t have operations large enough to benefit from the automated software.  


Don’t fear the manual part of VCM. While it may seem time-consuming compared to software-driven processes, for a small to mid-size business, this isn't the case. The success lies in how the VCM begins! Read on and we’ll share some of R-Path's secret sauce in how we use value chain mapping with new clients. 


Now, let’s learn more about value chain mapping and how to implement it effectively – whether with a partnering organization like R-Path, or an automation Center of Excellence (CoE) you’re developing on your own. 


Why Value Chain Mapping is Crucial for Automation Projects 

Identifying your automation opportunities is just the start. Value chain mapping creates a clear roadmap, acting as a blueprint for your automation projects. Without it, organizations can meander aimlessly, missing key opportunities, wasting resources, and creating an uncertain future for the life of the new automation program.  


Value Chain Mapping Success 

We’re fortunate to have seen a spectrum of automation programs over the years – some more successful than others. As illustrated by the example below, those that begin with value chain mapping tend to work best.  


Client Example: Value Chain Mapping to Begin Automation 

One client, a commercial services firm with aggressive growth goals, recognized the importance of a strategic approach, focusing on business areas most impacted by growth. The engagement with R-Path began with value chain map creation, which established a visual representation of key operational processes and their relationships. The accounting, customer service, and human resources departments were identified as top priorities. 

The value chain map allowed the company and R-Path to have a clear vision of the initial automation projects and the focus of future projects. Once an automation project concludes, where to look next is readily apparent. As a result, the client has minimal downtime between projects. 


The value chain map allowed the company to have a clear vision of the initial automation projects and the focus of future projects. As a result, the client processed over 16K vendor invoices with automation, saving over 200 hours per month. This approach ensured minimal downtime between projects, as the next area of focus was already clear. 



From Example to Execution: Embarking on Your Value Chain Mapping Journey 


After seeing the impact of value chain mapping in our client example, you might be wondering, "How do I implement this in my own organization?" Let's transition from theory to practice and explore the concrete steps involved in creating your Value chain map.  


Phase 1: Organizational Assessment 

This phase involves working sessions with executive leaders to define key aspects of the organization's automation program, including: 

  • Identifying areas or departments that are likely to be rich with automation opportunity 
  • Assessing the scale of each business unit or department in terms of annual costs and number of employees. 
  • Estimating the potential for automation within each business unit or department. 
  • Then, creating a shortlist of strategic areas for automation opportunities. 


Phase 2: Department Specific Assessment 

After the organizational assessment, sessions with managers or subject matter experts from the identified business areas focus on: 

  • Developing a detailed value chain map for each department or area. 
  • Outlining the core processes operated by each area of the business. 
  • Analyzing the transaction volume, frequency, and variability of each core process. 
  • Create a shortlist of processes where automation would have the most strategic impact within the specific business unit. 
  • Conducting detailed analysis and mapping of all shortlisted processes to support an impact assessment. 


For each working session, we recommend no more than about two hours. This should be enough time to discuss the steps and outcome of a particular company area. At the end of these exercises, your team has a map of your organization’s value-creating activities and a list of ideas for where to begin automating. 



Embarking on your journey to discover the hidden automation potential within your organization begins with adopting a strategic approach like Value Chain Mapping. This method is more than just a tool—it’s a roadmap that illuminates where your most significant opportunities for automation are located. By clearly outlining your path forward, it ensures that your efforts in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are not only targeted and efficient but also yield measurable and impactful results. 


At R-Path Automation, we specialize in guiding businesses through this process, ensuring your automation initiatives are not just successful but also aligned with your overall business strategy. We invite you to explore further in our case studies, blog, and resources 


Together, we can create an in-depth value chain map for your operations, setting the stage for impactful automation and long-term success. For a more detailed discussion, please visit our website or get in touch with us directly. Your journey towards intelligent, strategic automation starts here.