RPA, Analysis
11 August 2019

What do you think of when you hear “robotic process automation”? Is it robots in factories packing your groceries or Roombas cleaning a whole warehouse? Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is actually software (e.g. a script) that uses other software. A perfect example of how useful RPAs can be is when a person is required to paste from one system to another over and over again with no end in sight.

The high level of interest in RPAs results from the large business potential of implementing this technology. How this “potential” can be applied in your organisation varies from case to case. We will dive into our initial evaluation of the automation potential of the process, based on the process compliance index.

First things first, process susceptibility is a percentage indicating which part of the analysed process is suitable for automation. This means that if the indicator is 100%, the entire process can be automated. On the other hand, if the indicator is 0%, the process cannot be automated.

How to calculate the value of susceptibility

The methodology of our work is largely based on shadowing specialists working in their natural conditions. As part of the shadowing session, we measure the time needed by the specialist to complete the entire process. During the measurement, we also take split times for individual parts of the process. The measurement should be repeated several times in order to calculate the average values. The ability to record a user session greatly facilitates this type of analysis.

Having a summary of the split time, the analyst must assess which parts of the process are suitable for automation and which are not. Parts of the process are evaluated in the same way as the entire process.

The final step is to sum the split times for elements that are suitable for automation and divide them by the time of the entire process. That might sound complicated but here is an example that explains the process simply. Let’s say a specialist logs into the web system using a two-part login (SMS), finds the appropriate value, enters it into a document, that they then print, and put in a file. The analyst would have measured the following time splits:

  1. Opening the browser and login page – 10s;
  2. Entering username and password – 8s;
  3. Waiting for and entering the SMS code – 20s;
  4. Acquiring appropriate variable – 15s;
  5. Opening a file, rewriting a variable, sending a print order – 18s;
  6. Printing out and attaching to a binder – 12s.

Points 3 and 6 in this case are not suitable for automation, therefore the total time for automation is 51s, while the entire process lasts 83s. The susceptibility for this process is then 61%.

Why is this relevant?

Susceptibility is an important indicator because it shows the maximum automation potential. If the indicator is 61%, you will not be able to save more than 61% of time on the process. At this point we can decide whether we make a detailed cost-benefit analysis or not.

However, we need to be careful, because the process’s susceptibility does not take into account its volume, ease of automation, or potential improvement of quality. High susceptibility can’t decide on the final choice of the process in the implementation of RPA. From time to time, we analyse processes that have a 90% rate, and automation has no chance of saving due to the low process volume and high level of complexity. On the other hand, there are processes with an index of 5%, where automation brings a lot of benefits because it is simple and the process is massive.

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