Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a powerful tool that helps teams achieve more. With RPA, digital employees (aka bots) work 24/7 delivering fast, accurate, and reliable results – all while reducing costs, creating more time for upskilling your employees and improving your customers’ experiences.
And it’s easier to get these results than you might think.
Realizing the value of RPA starts by identifying the right opportunities that will drive operational improvement in key areas of your business. One way to identify opportunities is to score tasks in three categories: repetitiveness, potential KPI improvements, and project scope. Here’s an overview of each of these categories and how to use them to choose tasks to automate that will have a high impact on your business’s bottom line.
1. Highly Repetitive Tasks
Any RPA article would be incomplete without bringing up “repetitiveness” as the primary characteristic of tasks and processes that should be automated. But what does repetitive mean, specifically? Here are some practical examples of repetitive tasks that are excellent candidates for automation with RPA:
- Paper to application and application to application – Data entry (i.e., entering information from paper forms and printouts, or from one system to another) is a classic RPA use case. Data entry tasks can include onboarding new customers, processing invoices, and entering form information.
- Checking external systems – Checking external systems or websites is common in many business activities. Examples of external checks that may be good candidates for RPA include gathering data for market intelligence, enhancing customer data with third-party data, meeting regulatory reporting requirements, or connecting systems across a supply chain.
- Comparing values and conditional checks – Ensuring that values match in more than one system or dataset is often necessary to reduce errors. For example, RPA can automate finance department tasks that require data comparisons as necessary in bank account reconciliation and accounts payable.
- Required steps and prescribed options – If a task or process has steps that are required – whether by regulation, policy, or practice – then this activity may be appropriate for RPA. The steps should be the same or have limited variation each time they are executed. If there are options in the process, each path should also have defined steps.
As a rule, RPA is ideal for routine, rules-based tasks. If you can describe an activity in a way that anyone can perform it, then a bot can probably do it.
2. Meaningful KPI Improvements
Another category to consider when identifying tasks for RPA automation is the expected upside in cost or time savings, quality improvements, customer experience enhancements, and/or new revenue opportunities. Ask yourself, which tasks, if automated, would make a clear, quantifiable impact on my KPIs?
Based on these metrics, you can evaluate and prioritize the processes that are most important for your business. Whether you choose revenue generation, customer service, or service delivery, certain processes are more important for your business, and there are examples available to help you benchmark expected returns.
Keep in mind that big initial wins don’t necessarily come by automating whole processes. Instead, start by identifying the specific tasks where automation can accelerate, streamline, and reduce errors in the overall process.
3. Project Scope
Realistically, most organizations will not automate every task or process that could be automated, especially not at first. The last consideration is to take stock of your RPA readiness and select projects that are right-sized.
If your organization is brand new to automation, start small with a pilot that targets a specific goal. For example, a tactical project that improves the lives of employees is entirely appropriate for this pilot, when a primary objective is to garner support for RPA within your organization.
While it may be tempting to take on a large, complex process right away, it can be disastrous in an early stage of RPA readiness.
Consider these aspects of a project when assessing complexity:
- How many people does the process touch? Does the process span multiple departments? Have you considered the human aspects of RPA adoption? How many systems are involved?
- How mission-critical is the process? Have you tackled easier tasks and processes before trying your most important process? Do you have the expertise and buy-in to handle a high-profile project?
- How hardened is the process? Do you really understand the process? Is the “happy path” scenario assumed when, in reality, exceptions are the norm?
As you get deeper into RPA, tactical wins lead to more complex optimizations that touch more of your organization. Selecting the right projects, particularly at the beginning, helps you to navigate to greater efficiencies to edge out competition and ultimately better serve your customers.
Ready to Embark on the Path to Automation?
At R-Path Automation, we make digital transformation accessible to mid-sized companies. Contact us today to see how you can lower your costs, streamline your operations, and improve employee engagement – all at the same time!