Since 2018, the appeal for digitizing the workplace has grown dramatically. According to Google Trends, interest in technologies like Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) has grown at an average weekly rate of 23% since the beginning of 2018. It stands to reason interest in technology has increased so dramatically in the last few years. The fact that one minute of work from an RPA program translates into 15 minutes of human activity means employees can be released from the “prison of the mundane” to work on higher priority tasks.
Today its not just theory. Companies are seeing real “hard dollar” cost savings by leveraging the technology. According to Leslie Willcocks, professor of technology, work, and globalization at the London School of Economics’ Department of Management, “The major benefit we found in the 16 case studies we undertook is a return on investment that varies between 30 and as much as 200 percent in the first year!” She has also found incredible benefits for employees, too. “In every case we looked at, people welcomed the technology because they hated the tasks that the machines now do, and it relieved them of the rising pressure of work.”
The clear advantages of big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning are likely to change the nature of work across a wide range of industries and occupations. According to a recent Oxford University Study, THE FUTURE OF EMPLOYMENT: 47 percent of total US employment is will likely be automated or digitized over this decade.
But not everything is coming up smelling like roses. Despite widespread global interest and adoption of RPA, a recent conducted study by Ernst and Young has revealed that 30% to 50% of initial RPA projects fail! While critics blame the underlying technology, this is seldom the case. Usually, the root cause lies in the inattention to risk and internal control considerations in design and deployment of the bot technology. And that is what this article is all about, how to mitigate the risks involved in RPA deployment and generate greater yields of bot deployment success.
It’s All About Delivery
At TPMG Global© we added digital technology, like RPA, to our Lean Management and Six Sigma service offerings in 2018. We found the technology to be a natural extension of our value proposition of delivering better, faster, and less costly value streams for our clients. For those unfamiliar; lean management is all about clinically analyzing internal processes to find and get rid of waste. Six Sigma, on the other hand, is all about defect reduction and standardizing the ruthless pursuit of perfection. The natural outcome of both methods is improved productivity and lower cost (output per unit of input).
Without the technology, a well deployed lean six sigma system helps companies improve their operating margins by 25 to 30%. With the technology, companies experience tremendous speed and consistently shorter cycle times. Shortened cycle times and fewer defects in core value streams help companies get rid of order-to-cash backlogs, rapidly deliver to their customers and increase their recognized revenue per quarter by more than 47%.
Above, we mentioned this article is about how to mitigate the risks involved in RPA deployment and generate greater yields of bot deployment success. Below we have outlined 3 simple steps our obsessive and compulsive lean six sigma black belts use in the deployment of Robotic Process Automation.
Step 1 – Be Clinical
Our lean six sigma black belts think of themselves as doctors and client organizations as patients. They unbiasedly and unemotionally view the internal operations of a company like the internal systems of the human body – inextricably linked and interdependent. Before thinking of deploying RPA, they obsessively and compulsively analyze internal value streams from end-to-end. They examine each step, assess data flows, evaluate the roles of people & technology, and reconcile everything to current methods and procedures. Like super sleuths they not only search for waste and defects, but they also seek and find the agents responsible for creating both. This diagnosis serves as the basis for the treatment they use to perform corrective action and mitigate certain types of risks like data security and compliance issues.
Step 2 – Treat the Patient
Once our black belts examine the patient they create and standardize future state solutions that cure the patient of waste and defects. It is then and only then they pinpoint and examine the requirements for the job functions of interest for automation.
Step 3 – Test the Technology for Repeatability and Reproducibility
No one knows better than a lean six sigma black belt that achieving perfection is impossible. Despite accepting this reality, TPMG black belts take confidence in the fact that by only pursuing perfection can they catch excellence. We take this fatal attitude with us in the development and testing of bot technology. TPMG uses a methodology called Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) to ensure functional requirements are translated into technical requirements which are programed and rigorously tested. As the programming goes through user acceptance testing (UAT), TPMG black belts ruthlessly take developers, employees, and testers through cycles of improvement to maximize the RPA Bot’s ability to repeat and reproduce defect free work for which it is designed. All jobs have their exceptions. The routine cycles of repeatability and reproducibility work to minimize the impact of the risks written about above.
Step 4 – Hypercare
Once the bots are developed and ruthlessly tested, TPMG deploys the bots into production and puts them through a process called “hypercare”. Hypercare is an anal-retentive form of bot operating monitoring where bot functions are monitored for unintended consequences.
Is your organization interested in learning more about Robotic Process Automation?
In which one of these areas are you personally convinced there is room for improvement in your company: scaling for growth, productivity improvement, cost effectiveness, or cycle time reduction? If you are curious, TPMG Process Automation can not only help you answer this question but can also shepherd you through a no risk/no cost discovery process. We can partner with you to identify a job function and set up a complimentary proof of concept RPA bot. As an outcome of the discovery process, you can: 1. benefit from a free cost/benefit analysis, 2. demonstrate the value of RPA for your operation, and 3. discover if RPA is a good fit for your organization.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gerald Taylor is TPMG Global© Managing Director and is a Certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt