Automation Anywhere hosted an interactive webinar featuring David Jones and Edna Ezzell from our partner, Accenture. Entitled “Introducing IQ Bot,” our hourlong webinar focused on how artificial intelligence (AI)-based software bots used in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are being enhanced with cognitive capabilities and what that means for today’s businesses.
Webinar participants were encouraged to submit their questions during the presentation. We're pleased to provide the answers.
Q: Do you need a complete software development lifecycle (SDLC) team — for example, developers, project managers, and business analysts — to successfully deploy RPA?
A: Yes, a typical RPA implementation requires companies to take a structured and methodical approach executed through an SDLC-like framework. We recommend forming three types of teams:
Q: How is RPA different from workflow automation or business process management tools?
A: Workflow automation and business process management (BPM) tools are used for specific business scenarios and require specific business processes to be re-engineered. They’re driven by IT and are automated using back-end application programming interfaces (APIs). They also typically require you to fulfill formal change management requirements. All of this is both time-consuming and expensive.
RPA tools, on the other hand, are general-purpose tools that can be applied to a broad range of scenarios without needing to re-engineer any processes. RPA tools operate on the front end — through an intuitive application interface — and can deliver seamless automation without any need for back-end programming or integration. Because of this, you can use RPA tools to automate all kinds of business processes, including legacy applications and applications exposed over Citrix. Q: Given all the RPA tools on the market today, how do you select the best one?
A: There are eight primary factors that must be considered when evaluating RPA solutions:
Q: How is RPA implemented in a broken process?
A: RPA’s best characteristic is that it can be applied to any number of different business processes. RPA bots can work in both attended and unattended modes. For example, when the entire end-to-end process cannot be automated, RPA bots can work alongside humans to deliver attended automation. In such cases, the actions of RPA bots can be triggered by system-level events that can give and take data to and from human workers.
Q: What is the best strategy for implementing RPA — RPA as a service or build a center of excellence (CoE)?
A: A CoE is the best route to go because it gives you more control and enables you to deploy RPA in a way that is more secure and compliant. A CoE also helps you build in-house automation capabilities, the benefits of which will grow in the future medium to long term.
Additionally, a CoE provides more flexibility and room for experimentation with different automation frameworks. If you want to automate a large number of processes within a shorter time frame, you can often engage the services of a third-party expert partner rather than outsourcing the day-to-day operations as you would with RPA as a service.
Q: Is it possible to automate 100% of a process?
A: It depends on the process. Standard business processes that don’t require much decision-making can be 100% automated and deliver a very high, very fast return on investment (ROI). The percentage of a business process that can be automated depends on three things: whether the process has standardized rules and patterns, how many human touchpoints exist, and the overall complexity and variability of the data.
Q: How can businesses set expectations as they begin their RPA journeys? What are the criteria for success during the initiation phase?
A: Businesses need to plan for both the short term and the long term. We encourage enterprises to think big, start small, and scale fast. During the initial stages, you have to carefully select what to automate by studying end-to-end business processes. An RPA CoE must be established. Then, begin to automate those processes that are highly standardized and that have a large and engaged headcount.
Here are the steps, in order, of doing this:
Key success criteria during initial phases should include the speed of automation, the number of automation full-time equivalents that are created, and the ROI. Once you’ve achieved initial success, expand your CoE and create a bigger pool of processes to automate.
Q: What is the disaster recovery process for RPA? What happens if a bot fails in the production system due to a small process change?
A: Disaster recovery (DR) of an RPA system occurs on two levels:
If a bot fails in a production system due to a small change in an automated application, it must be designed so it doesn’t need to completely recreate the entire automation sequence. Instead, the RPA solution should support app resilience so that minimal edits can be made to a very small number of reusable bots. The rest of the bots should work as usual, unaffected by the change.
Q: How should an organization present a business case for RPA?
A: An RPA business case should include three dimensions:
Q: What can existing human workers do to upskill and contribute value to RPA efforts rather than lose their jobs?
A: Only the most mundane, repetitive aspects of human jobs are automated with RPA. This frees humans to perform tasks better suited to their intellect and creativity. They can also use the extra time to learn new business skills or acquire new competencies related to RPA.
For example, by learning automation tools or automation implementation frameworks, they can level up their skills. They also help their organization by setting up or strengthening automation CoEs, or identifying opportunities for further automation by becoming automation change agents.
Automation creates jobs by making enterprises more productive, opening opportunities for more person power needed for medium and high-skill positions.
Gary Conway works in the office of the CEO. His years of marketing leadership experience include both B2B and B2C companies in the United States and abroad.