Bizcon: How to be more successful with your RPA projects


Why use the Bizcon RPA Methodology?

Because there is a need for it!

Many companies have been struggling with identifying suitable business process candidates for automation and many automation projects have failed to demonstrate the projected ROI. Time after time this is proven by industry surveys mentioning that Robotic Process Automation (RPA) projects are facing problems due to lack of business process understanding and a lack of business process standardisation. 

What if you had a fact-based understanding of your business process AND what if you redesigned AND documented the business process before automating it AND what if you could factually monitor the potentially automated business process to understand the effects of the initiative?

An EY study estimated that 30-50% of all first-time RPA initiatives don’t succeed. What if this could be changed so you succeeded with your RPA projects the first time?

Based on our more than 15 years’ experience with business process improvements Bizcon developed a methodology so you can work more efficiently with automation and other kind of business process improvement initiatives.


Be prepared - Don’t automate a bad process – follow up
It is common knowledge that automating an inefficient or poorly designed business process will only amplify problems - a costly scenario nobody wants to experience.

Using the Bizcon RPA Methodology (as seen above) you can increase your success rate by getting a fact-based understanding of the As-Is business process and removing RPA silos through documentation and collaboration. 

By designing the To-Be business processes you prevent automating bad business processes, and by enabling data driven process monitoring you get factual insights into your business processes in the post implementation phase.

Identify your Business Process

As with most business process improvement efforts, it is essential to understand the overall business process landscape, IT landscape, data management and risks associated.

Bizcon recommends using a central repository for process documentation to give you an overview of the business processes allowing you to qualify and disqualify business processes for your automation efforts. In addition, this makes it is easy to identify sub-processes already automated and reuse them in To-Be processes, saving time on implementation, documentation and governance. 

Discover your Business Process

Once certain activities in a business process have been qualified for an automation project based on the high-level analysis and feedback from the business, it is time to document the As-Is process. Traditional methods for mapping and documenting the As-Is business process are interviews, workshops and focus groups. This is typically very time consuming and renders inaccurate results.

Bizcon recommends using Process Mining for your business process discovery, as this uses the digital footprints from your various IT systems to map any given business process. In most cases, data is available in one or more IT systems for any business process, which means you typically spend 4-6x less time and resources on documenting the As-Is business process (see below, example SAP Order-to-Cash). 

For RPA efforts, it can provide you with a business process baseline as well as candidates for where to implement your bots. It is a well-known fact that RPA is more suited for standardized business processes, and there is no better technology than process mining to factually show whether a business process is standardized or not.
 


Analyze your Business Process

Once your business process has been mapped using process mining you can now start to analyze your business process in depth in different ways. Most would be perfectly happy to have a one-dimensional x-ray image of the business process, but process mining gives you a multi-dimensional scan of the business process, where you can see everything from different angles, zoom in and out on certain cases or activities, investigate bottlenecks, filter on departments or product types etc. 

For example, if you have a blueprint of your business process, you would easily be able to compare the actual As-Is business process with your blueprint giving you an immediate reportable overview of any deviations.



When you compare the business process blueprint against the As-Is process, as seen above, you can immediately detect the non-compliant paths or activities, exception flows, rework, flows that end prematurely as well as tapping into a full all range of out-of-the-box metrics or KPIs.

In this phase you would also identify candidates for automation and select the ones that provide the highest impact with minimum amount of effort. Having a standardized business process with a minimum variation is ideal for automation and based on a fact based As-Is business process you will easily see the business process variations hence helping you qualify the right RPA candidates the first time.
 


Redesign your Business Process

What are the inputs and the outputs of a business process? Which activities are manual activities and where does your automation workflow fit into the overall business process landscape of your organization?

After analyzing your business process, ideally the As-Is business process should be imported into your enterprise architecture solution. Therefore, ensure sure your EA solution makes use of business process modelling and notation (BPMN) standard.

Next step is to design the To-Be business process in order to find the best possible process candidate. When doing so, the Bizcon methodology ensures that the following factors are accounted for:
Business Process participants
Business Process objectives and KPI
Current and future IT system environment
Desired TO-BE state       
Compliance requirements, internal as well as external
Risk identification & assessment

From our experience, larger companies often have challenges with RPA governance and lack of documentation in their RPA efforts.

Next step is to define the automation steps required to replace what was previously handled manually. 

Using an EA solution, you should be able to not only redesign the process, but also benefit from integration with leading RPA platforms (see picture below).

This gives you two (2) major benefits:
1)  Using a central solution for creating the bot templates means you will ensure a uniform way of creating bots in all parts of the company, and avoiding departments going rogue and making their own bots.
2)  Reusing existing templates or quickly referencing and copying applicable documentation from similar bots will speed up RPA value while using approved and compliant templates.



RPA Implementation (Improve your Business Process)

Implement your bots based on your research and templates as discussed above, but make sure that all is continually updated and documented in the central EA repository.

All stakeholders involved in the RPA initiative e.g. Business Analysts, Solution Architects, RPA Developers and end users are now benefiting from fact-based insights delivered by the process mining approach as well as from documenting and assessing the business process using the EA solution.

Standard documentation for robot development such as the Process Design Document (PDD) and Solution Design Document (SDD) become a lot more reliable and maximize the success rate of the automation effort.

Monitor your Business Process

Another major challenge with automation initiatives is how to calculate and continuously follow the impact of the initiative.

When using process mining technology, you are able to continuously monitor your business processes by e.g. comparing the RPA optimized business process to the original business process. Are there any points of interest? Has the overall lead time of the business process increased or decreased, do we see any incidents or risks, and are our initial ROI calculations being met? 

In the monitoring phase, after the bots have been implemented, you will quickly realize if you made the right choices and if your To-Be business process is in need of more fine-tuning. Also, when comparing to the baseline, before the bots, you can accurately start calculating the ROI and reporting - fact-based!

Wrap-up

In summary, the Bizcon RPA methodology is not only designed to help you work faster, fact based and more efficiently with your automation efforts, but also to ensure you build and maintain a governance model for your automation efforts and ensuring RPA standardization. This is the Nirvana of any business process improvement and Bizcon can help you on that journey.

Find out more information here: www.bizcon.dk 



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