December 16, 2021 | 3 min read
Automation is closer than you think — Part II
Congratulations on having decided to embark on RPA automation. Before you and your team start building, there are a few considerations. One very important step is to carry out an opportunity assessment.
An opportunity assessment is a detailed review of all the business processes with the goal of identifying candidates who would be beneficial in terms of savings and return on investment (ROI). If you cannot find more than 3–5 candidates, you might want to reconsider using RPA. Why? Because too few candidates are likely to result in more long-term maintenance than benefit.
There are two approaches to an opportunity assessment. You can either implement a traditional discovery approach i.e interviewing the subject matter expert(s) (SME) or through a string of process mining techniques. In either case, you are going to want to avoid the syndrome of “when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. If you use either technique to solely focus on RPA candidates, you are likely to miss out on other process improvement opportunities that inevitably come from such exercises.
The outcome of the assessment process is to identify the process or tasks that are most ripe for automation. Once you get the list, all the processes/tasks can be stack ranked based on your business priority. The business priority can be repurposing employee time, error reduction, streamlining the process, increasing productivity, and/or improving the customer experience. Sometimes, the value is that automation achieves more than one priority. For example, if one of your struggles is a shortage of qualified underwriters, alleviating the workload on existing underwriters could not only bring more productivity but could also allow you to redirect your recruiting staff.
High-volume processes that are repetitive and manual and that have well-defined rules make ideal picks for automation. Here’s some quick math to illustrate how important it is to select repetitive processes:
Let’s compare a task that is performed once per day versus a task that is performed 100 times per day.
If you automate the task that is performed 100 times per day and it only saves you 2 minutes of human time, that equates to roughly 40% of a full-time person’s workload (200 minutes out of a 480-minute work-day)
In order for a task that is performed once per day to provide the same savings, it would need to save roughly 3 hours (200 minutes, to be exact) every time it ran. And, from experience, we can tell you that any process that takes 3 hours will take a very long time to automate!
It is always advisable that we pick the processes that are quick wins and then scale the automation to other medium and complex processes. So don’t feel like you have to find something that occurs 100 times per day or saves 10 minutes of human time every time it is run. For the initial automation, there will be a lot of learning, so get something all the way through the process. That will allow you to step back and reassess how best to attack the remaining automation opportunities on your list.
What makes your opportunity assessment critical is that it helps in uncovering those processes that are not automatable. Not all processes are suitable for automation. Therefore you must weed out such processes right at the start.
There might be many reasons why a process might not be suitable for automation. Reasons such as complexity (too many variations), the time required to automate, an inability of the automation tools to work with the apps that need automating, or insufficient ROI may indicate that the automation investment may not be worthwhile.
An RPA implementation, when carried out effectively, has the potential to change the way your business runs. At Brimma, we have seen companies be able to redeploy entire teams away from processes that became fully automated. But starting small, getting quick wins, and learning what works and what doesn’t work is where you should focus if you ever want to achieve such lofty goals.
In 2016 The Brimma Tribe was born to continue the legacy of delivering modern technology innovation for mortgage lenders who need an experienced no nonsense partner to bring their digital lending vision to life. Brimma is founded on the principle of building a unique tribal leadership culture designed to empower each employee-partner by giving them unfettered license to voice their insights. Our Tribe culture is inspired by the book Tribal Leadership by Logan, King, and Fischer-Wright.