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Robotic Process Automation: Finding the Right Process

You know about the benefits of Robotic Process Automation, you know what the digital robots can do. Now the question is: where to start? Which processes are suitable for automation?

This post seeks to help you decide which processes are best suited to be automated. It is important to note, however, that a good process does not necessarily have to fulfill 100% of all criteria. The criteria presented here are helpful baselines: the more of them apply to a process, the better it is suited for automation, especially at the beginning of a company's automation journey.

Data

1) Structured Input

Robotic Process Automation isn't artificial intelligence - it can't figure out unstructured data, for example the text of a customer's email or a chatprotocol. There has to be some way for the robot to know what the data is and how it is connected. Structured data can for example be found in the ERP system or in a web form. 

2) Digital

RPA robots are digital robots, not physical ones. They can interact with software applications but not with the physical world per se. That means that analog data cannot be processed by them and has to be digitized first. Digitization would result in an increased workload, which is why processes where data is already available in digital format are better suited for automation.

3) Data Type: Text & Numbers

Major progress has been made in OCR software and machine vision and those applications can be integrated with Robotic Process Automation. Generally speaking, however, the robots deal better with data input in the form of text and numbers than with images.

Process Characteristics

4) Rules-based 

The robots work by following a workflow. They can be programmed with business rules, based on which they can follow different decision trees. This is why processes should be rules-based and standardized. When a robot encounters an exception, it can hand over the process to an employee, but processes that require a lot of decisions and have many exceptions are not as suited for automation as standardized processes, which can be automated completely.

5) Stability

One of the advantages of Robotic Process Automation is how easy it can be adapted to changing processes and necessities. However, each change of a process or a major change to the underlying applications also means a change in the workflow. If such changes happen frequently, the time and work invested in an automated process rises. Therefore, more stable processes with few changes over time are better suited for automation. 

6) Volume

The higher the volume of a process, the bigger the potential benefits if the process is automated, saving time and process costs. Volume also has a significant impact on the ROI of automated processes.  

7) Error Rate

Error-prone processes are also often suitable candidates for automation. Errors often happen through manual input or if process steps are skipped. It can happen very easily, particularly if employees have to handle high volume processes or multiple processes at the same time.

Digital robots, however, do not make mistakes. They follow the process workflow exactly, do not forget steps or make typos. This is why error rates can be significantly reduced through Robotic Process Automation.

8) Complexity

Even complex processes can be automated. However, automating complex processes requires more work, time and knowledge. Companies at the beginning of their automation journey should choose simpler processes to quickly gain benefits and built know-how from there. 

Our experts help you implement Robotic Process Automation and analyze processes to find the most suitable ones. Profit from our expertise and contact us to find out more about how RPA can help your company.

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Sara Gebhardt      16. March 2017

Author

Sara Gebhardt

Sara Gebhardt

Sara started working as Marketing Manager at ALMATO in 2015.

She has a M.A. in International Cultural and Business Studies. As part of a Double Degree Programme she spent a year in Scotland and wrote her thesis on What Would Bond Buy? An Investigation Into Young Consumers' Attitudes Towards Product Placement in Films.

After her studies, she moved to Belgium and worked for a software company as Business Developer for Germany and Spain, before moving back to her beautiful home city of Stuttgart. In her free time, she reads obsessively across all genres.