The suitability of a process for automation with Robotic Process Automation can be easily checked by means of 9 factors. These 9 factors are presented and explained in detail in this article. The factors presented are of both technical and business nature. Especially in the field of process automation the following is very important and should always be considered: Just because the automation of a process makes sense from a technical point of view, it does not necessarily mean added value for the company from a business point of view. And vice versa, it is also true that just because a process should be automated from a business point of view, it is also technically possible.
Here to the article: What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – Introduction and explanation
9 factors to identify a process suitable for automation
In the following, a total of nine points are presented, all of which should be considered when selecting a process to be automated. Depending on the case, further criteria should be added:
1. Manual and repetitive processes
The process should be characterized by a lot of manual work and should be performed very frequently. The manual work in the process must be work on the PC in any application. Work that does not take place on a PC cannot usually be automated with Robotic Process Automation. If the process does not require a lot of manual work, the savings potential through automation is probably also low. In addition to the amount of work, the frequency of the process is an important indicator of its automation potential. The more frequently a process is performed, the more useful its automation is. If a process occurs both frequently and involves a lot of manual (computer) work, then it is a very good candidate for automation.
2. Processable data is crucial
In order to automate the process, computer-processable input data is required. This input data should also be standardized and consistent. Best suited are Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, e-mails, XMLs, PDF files and so on – i.e. classic file formats on a PC. If the input data is not available in this form, one should refrain from automating the process and start a project to generate processable input data first.
3. There is a clear trigger for the process
There must be a clear trigger for the process. For example the receipt of an email. The processing of data can also be started by an employee, but in terms of automation, a higher autonomy of the process always makes sense.
4. The process will not change quickly
There are no fundamental changes in the systems used in the near future. Robotic Process Automation is based on the fact that interfaces are automated or used in APIs. If the appearance of these interfaces changes fundamentally, automation with Robotic Process Automation usually no longer works and must be adapted. Similarly, if a known change is made to a program interface, automation with Robotic Process Automation should be performed after the change.
5. The process flow will not change quickly
The contents of point 4 apply equally to changes in the process flow. There should be no planned changes in the process flow. If the process to be automated is to change in the near future, the developed process sequence must also be adapted to the new specifications using Robotic Process Automation. If such a change is known, the process should not be automated for the time being. One possibility to automate the process nevertheless is to integrate the automation directly into the new planned process sequence.
6. The process is rule-based
The process to be automated must be rule-based. The decisions must be formulated accordingly. In processes where decisions are made on a gut feeling basis, Robotic Process Automation can only be used with an “Attended” robot. This means that the robot interacts with the employee during execution and asks questions.
7. Robotische Prozessautomatisierung (RPA) muss sich rechnen
Usually, automating a process makes sense from an economic point of view if at least 1.5 to 2 FTEs are saved by automation. Anything less than this is usually not worthwhile from an economic point of view.
8. There are few special cases
It is recommended to automate processes that have a low rate of possible special cases. Each variation of a process must be developed individually and costs additional money. In practice, it is also possible to send special cases to the employee for processing and have only the most common process variants processed by the robot. In this case, planning based on the Pareto principle is recommended. It should be automated those processes that are most likely to account for 80% of the total process runs. This should be possible with very little effort, since only the frequently occurring standard cases are developed. The special cases that do not occur frequently (i.e. the remaining 20%) should not be developed, but only handed over to the employees for manual processing.
9. The process is documented in detail
A process should be automated that is already documented in detail and whose sequence and all special cases that occur are known. This way a complication-free development can be achieved.
This article explains nine criteria that should be considered when selecting a suitable process for automation with Robotic Process Automation. These criteria can and should be supplemented by company-specific criteria. If several of the above mentioned (technical) criteria for a desired process are not fulfilled, the conditions should be created in a preliminary project.