Business Process Standardization With RPA

Why & How to Achieve Business Process Standardization

Era of Automation | Issue 01| 31-Jul-2020

What is a Business Process

A business process is a series of tasks that are linked together to accomplish a common goal. Each job consists of a clearly defined set of inputs and outputs that are unique to the business process. These factors contribute to categorizing the process as management, operational, and supporting the business process.

Business Process Standardization is the act of establishing a “Best Practice” of how to carry out a process and make sure that the entire organization follows it.

Standardization of the processes is done to gain their benefits or as part of a more significant initiative such as Business Process Management (BPM).

It helps to achieve componentization where you can re-use the same process, which is already established as a component of another process. This can range up to different areas/ departments of the same company.

Process Standardization

Standardization steps usually include

  • Setting the standards
  • Reporting on the standards for the management
  • Adherence to the established standards
  • Continuous improvement
  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA) aims to replace highly manual, repetitive, rule-based processes that handle huge volumes of data.
  • RPA is not a nail that we can use to fix a broken process that humans perform manually on a specific routine.
  • Every RPA project should focus on some level of process standardization before any automation efforts.
Robotic Process Automation

Characteristics of a Non-Standardized Process include:

  • Increased error rate
  • Decreased quality of routine tasks
  • Inefficient tasks
  • Excess repetitive tasks
  • Reduced functionality
  • High maintenance costs
  • Less reliable end results
  • High variability in output
  • No clearly defined inputs and outputs

Automation of such processes will not gain the necessary improvement to the organization without the proper application of process standardization. RPA is also a technology that eliminates wastes DOWNTIME:

  • D — Defects
  • O — Overproduction
  • W — Waiting
  • N — Not utilizing talent
  • T — Transportation
  • I — Inventory excess
  • M — Motion waste
  • E — Excess processing

Process Standardization is one of the key requirements customers expect from an automation project

Over time, small/ medium/ large organizations have accumulated multiple, disparate, and often redundant processes to accomplish the same purpose throughout the organization. This generally leads to inefficiency of the tasks that are carried out and a lack of ability to provide the required output consistently. Standardizing a business process is a must before applying automation onto it. Process standardization should be done in a way where it can be applied in multiple sections of the organization. Applying RPA on standardized processes will provide a better automation end result.

The process standardization is done by Business Analysts and BPO experts

Data Structures

Automation robots work best with structured data.

Hence, RPA can be easily applied to a process that uses structured data where there are not too many variations in the process (standardized process).

Latest trend — Unstructured data all around

If the process that uses this unstructured data is not standardized, there will be unmanageable variations in the process. Matters become worse when automation is applied to such processes.

Have a standardized process — Applying cognitive automation through RPA is quite easy to bring the unstructured data to a standardized, meaningful format that robots or humans can use for many tasks.

Applying RPA will:

  • Improve the quality of routine tasks
  • Increase overall process efficiency
  • Decrease error rates
  • Reduce redundant and unnecessary tasks
  • Reduce dependencies on multiple systems and screens

Significant contribution to the above benefits will be made through standardization as they highly contribute to

  • perfecting customer service
  • productivity & process improvement
  • increased quality and clarity
  • Easier onboarding of new technology

Every step of a business process deals with data. RPA focus on automating every step of a business process in a standardized approach.

Process Standardization & Approach

Improvements can be made at every level in the organization.

Organization levels that RPA can be applied

The Below framework can be used as a business process standardization approach in any RPA project.

Process Standardization Framework

Business Analyst should carry out the below tasks to identify standardization procedures

  • Detailed discussions with the stakeholders of the existing manual process & expected automated process
  • Detailed documentation of the existing manual process to identify manual, semi-automated & automated activities within the process
  • Identify standard operational procedures which can be introduced and mapped it to the process map
  • Plan for a standard business rule library that can be used by the automation process.
  • Come up with standard procedures for the maintenance of the business rule library
  • Identify the complexity of the existing process and investigate ways of reducing the complexity by applying standardization.

The below guide is followed by a Business Analyst to find the best candidate processes for automation.

Where the Standardization Framework is Applied in Process Life Cycle

Process Life Cycle

Six Sigma for Process Standardization

This example is used to explain the phases of Six Sigma.

Accounts payable is a process that requires many steps &
approvals.

  • RPA can automate the majority of account payable processes listed below:
  • Invoice Data Entry
  • Check preparation
  • Disbursement of checks

Methodology to guarantee that the process will be fully optimized and standardized to receive the RPA robot;

Six Sigma for Process Standardization

Main purpose: verify the actions, which should be taken in order to solve the problem.

Steps Carried out in Define Phase

Example:

Reduction of Finance Department’s Accounts Payable Procedure Cycle Time
To Be Process Performance Standard

Main purpose: Measuring the current process by gathering information to understand its state.

Steps Carried out in Measure Phase

Example:

Value Stream Map (Process Map) of the Current Process

Main purpose: Analyzing the results of the measurements to determine the causes of the process imperfections.

Steps Carried out in Analysis Phase

Example:

The Why’s of Analysis
Impact Vs. Control Matrix

Six Sigma for Process Standardization — 5 M’s

Six Sigma introduces 6 M’s to analyze the process variations which can be used in any industry.

5 M’s of Six Sigma Process Standardization

Main purpose: Implementing the changes which eliminate the imperfections.

Steps Carried out in Improve Phase

Example:

Improved Vs. Legacy State of Account Payable Process

Main purpose: Controlling the improved process & monitoring the results in a continuous way.

Steps Carried out in Control & Sustain Phase

Thank you so much Jay Armand Ogayon (UiPath Chapter Lead for Manila, Philippines), Lucas Pimenta (UiPath MVP), and Clayton Marischen (UiPath MVP) for your amazing guidance, and contributions in putting this document together.

Quote to end:

The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.

Bill Gates

UiPath MVP/ Executive Lead — Robotic Process Automation/ UiPath Community Leader for SAARC Region/ UiPath Community Moderator