Building a Process Pipeline: Ask Me Anything

By Lorena Seco de Herrera Ortega posted 07-29-2021 11:54

  


We were delighted to be joined by Blue Prism product experts Pratyush Garikapati and Jovana Djapa for a Community AMA session on the topic of Building a Process Pipeline.

With this AMA session we kicked off our second Ask Me Anything session as part of our Rom Essentials program. We've now compiled the key questions and answers all in one place here - but if you want to read the original thread here's a link: June 10th Ask Me Anything: Building a Process Pipeline

Q. In this week's video we talked a lot about Pipeline Governance, how is that being implemented in practice within our customers. Any suggestions on how to setup a governance board? Who should sit on it?

A. Pipeline Governance is only a part of the overall responsibilities of RPA Governance Board. Governance board is obviously responsible for pipeline review but it also focusses on delivery review, remediate bottlenecks, and ensure alignment to vision.

In almost all cases, Head of RPA is part of the RPA Governance Board and it also includes representatives from Business, IT, Risk, Control, Information Security etc. This governance board sets up a cadence of weekly or fortnightly or sometimes monthly meetings to review all things going on in the COE, including a pipeline review to prioritize the opportunities in pipeline as well as review the progress of in-flight projects.   

PG

Q. Realistically, do customers start off with a governance board?

A. Great question. Most customers do start off with minimal review and governance mechanism. It may not be very robust in the beginning but over time the control and procedures are improved and enforced. The name of the game here is scale – if someone has only 3 or 4 opportunities in the pipeline then it's difficult to see the value spending the effort to "govern" it (and it might be burdensome too). But if you have 50, 100, 200 opportunities in the pipeline then it's almost impossible to manage it without a governance framework. That's why its important to have a baseline governance model in the beginning and enhance it as you scale.   PG

Q. From a general CoE governance perspective, what controls are important?

A. Quite a few actually. Before I answer though, I want to remind folks that the automations we are talking about are being built for enterprise needs, and therefore should abide by the enterprise guidelines. Hence, the below controls are important to ensure compliance to these guidelines:


Security and Access Control
 – things like who has access to BluePrism and in what capacity; who has access Development/UAT/Production environments and what are their access levels; who are the system admins; what are the requirements for records retention, password resets, LDAP integrations, audit requirements, information security guidelines and so on.

Risk Management – all potential sources of risk need to be identified along with their mitigation mechanisms. For example, risk of a robot going offline (which is quite similar to what would you as a manager do when your employee is unable to come to office); or risk of target application going down and how your automation behaves when this happens; risk of application server being unavailable; risk of business process or target application changing without any advance notice etc.  

On-boarding Digital Workers is a key aspect to consider to ensure they have the right access for the applications they will be dealing with. It's also important to establish who "owns" the Digital Worker IDs for ongoing maintenance and to fulfill the audit requirements.  

Data Management and Logging – what kind of data will be logged and for how long; how does that affect performance of the environment; what are the key regulatory requirements for purging old data etc.

And finally, having Reporting and Dashboarding capabilities to monitor the health of your Digital Workers, Automations and overall RPA Capability.

Now, all of this may seem daunting to someone who is just starting off in their RPA journey but the good news is that there is a blueprint for executing and tracking all of this. And that blueprint is called ......ROBOTIC OPERATING MODEL :)    PG


Q. What makes a good process candidate?

A. First of all, a good process candidate is the one that solves for an important business problem you have. A good process is automatable and it brings significant value to your business.

When assessing the process, you can think about following questions:

  1. Is my process structured? Could a set of task instructions be easily given to a new employee?
  2. Is my process high in terms of transaction volumes or frequency?
  3. Does my process have clearly defined inputs and outputs? Are the data/information feeds in a consistent/known format?
  4. Does my process have clear decision logic? Could the decision points be defined and documented?
  5. Is my process prone to human error? Is there a high rate of error or high impact if errors occur?
  6. Is my process unfulfilling, repetitive, mundane and unsatisfying for a human?

If you answer with YES to majority of these questions, your process may be a good candidate for further analysis.   JD

Q. How to determine which business areas are the best to start automating in?

A. First and foremost, you need a sponsor. We strongly recommend to have sponsorship from C-suite because that provides a stronger influence for change and enables a greater visibility of opportunities as well within the organization .

As an alternative to this, there will most certainly be a business owner in the organization who wants to explore the benefits of RPA, and in such cases you would start with their business area to identify automation candidates and probably do a proof-of-concept to justify the investment.

What I would like to point out is that both of these models, as well as a hybrid of these, are something that we have seen in practice. But It's important to call out that the pace of automation and value realization does depend on the model that an organization adopts.   PG

Q. How do you decide on how to prioritise process candidates?

A. To prioritize right processes, the simplest possible method you can use is to look into process complexity and estimated business value.

Complexity depends on the type of applications, connectivity, number of screens and applications/systems, number of steps, input data, business risk etc.

Business value can be assessed based on the hours you can return back to business, costs saved, compliance achieved, mitigated business risk or any other indicator that matters to your business.

You want to prioritize processes that are low on complexity and high on estimated business value. Those use cases are quick wins for success.

If the process is high on complexity and high on expected business value, you may need to perform adequate process re-engineering or systems change.

Low value use cases should be de-prioritized or done when RPA team has spare capacity to deliver on them.

To do all of this in a systematic way, you can use our Process Assessment tool

JD

Q. Should all processes aim at returning hours back to the business?

A. Valuable automations are the ones that solve an important problem for your business and that can be measured in many different ways.

In terms of cost reduction, RPA users normally look into hours returned to business because that allows them to free up human time for other value-generating activities.

In terms of efficiency, you can look into a throughput you are achieving with your automation. The idea is to be able to be more productive and do more in less time.

In terms of process quality, you may want to look into the errors generating in each transaction. If done right, automated process should reduce errors to zero and ensure repeatable, high quality execution – every time.

If you have processes with strict SLAs, automation may help to adhere to required timeline in a predictable manner.

For processes with high business risk and strict compliance requirements, you may want to use automation to decrease or mitigate these business and compliance risks.

For customer facing processes, having a way to perform in a confident, consistent manner could help you to increase you customer satisfaction.

So the short answer is – automation can help your business in many different ways if you allow yourself to think beyond costs savings.   JD


Q. Any suggestions on how to source new process candidates? Any examples and tangible tips?

A.
You can find amazing case studies from our customer universe on our website . 
Those should serve as good inspiration to get you thinking about possibilities in your own organization. 

If you need more help and support, feel free to reach out to us, we will be happy to help and guide you through the initial process of generating your RPA pipeline.   JD

Summary

We hope our answers help you better understand about governance and building an automation pipeline:

  • Governance keeps your pipeline secure and ensures prioritization of the right opportunities.
  • Process Discovery is about bringing the business areas and the automation team together to identify the best possible opportunities for automation.
  • Pipeline Management is where you realize and understand the true benefits of RPA and helps you manage business areas expectations.


Thank you all for the questions, and to our experts for giving up their time to answer them on the Community.

If you have any further questions on the topic - please post on our Robotic Operating Model (ROM) Community where community members will be ready to help you answer your queries.

Many thanks.


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