Success Is Best When Shared: The Importance of Measuring RPA Outcomes

This is the third post in a three-part series (Part 1, Part 2) that outlines the steps for automation project success.

When embarking on and completing any kind of process improvement project, many leaders forget to baseline pre-project performance metrics. This is extremely important for your automation initiatives to gain support for moving forward with automation of additional processes. It provides tangible measurements to track success and communicate it throughout the organization. Here are key components to include in your report.

Establish a baseline. Before starting your automation project, reference the agreed upon success criteria identified in your goal alignment workshop (see my first post in this series, “Three Steps to Jump-start Your Process Automation Project”). For each of the goals and KPIs identified by your team, take a baseline measurement of how the organization is currently performing against those metrics.

Communicate the big picture. From the very start of the project, plan to create a presentation to share the vision of what the project will look like when complete, and share the projected ROI. This helps communicate exactly what to expect, while also establishing the baseline. Your presentation should depict a very clear picture of the current state and how work is getting done. This should be followed by a description of the improvements you will make, the goals you wish to achieve, and a projected return on investment.

Share your metrics. After you have launched your RPA bots and had enough time to realize results of your project, complete the presentation with the end-state metrics. Include the following in your report, and be sure to share it with all business stakeholders and others who would benefit:

  • Project goals
  • Pain points
  • Persona profiles for each of the types of users doing the work
    • Name and title
    • Job description
    • KPIs by which they are measured
    • Personal pain points
  • Current state process map
  • Current state performance metrics
  • Final state process map
  • Final state performance metrics
  • Tangible improvement metrics
  • Intangible improvement metrics
  • Return on investment
  • Lessons learned

Most automation projects result in significant improvements and cost savings. You will have a very impressive story to tell once the project is complete. The best way to ensure that you can build on that by implementing other projects is to build excitement by sharing your story.

If you are trying to get buy-in for your RPA project before having that experience, OpenConnect has developed a service called DiscoverNow to help build a business case. It illustrates a potential end result based on our years of experience implementing these projects for our customers. We can use the same methodology to help tell your story once the project is complete. Let OpenConnect help make you a superhero for your business! Call today to schedule your DiscoverNow session.

How User-centric Discovery Can Ensure the Success of Your Automation Project

Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said, ‘faster horses.’”

I am always amazed that many companies don’t get feedback from the people who actually do the work. Instead, they still define their requirements by bringing a group of leaders and subject matter experts into a room and asking what they need. Don’t get me wrong; good ideas come from these meetings, but you can miss opportunities to really make improvements and eliminate things that are holding you back.

This comes from sitting down with the people doing the work, day in and day out. Listening to the challenges they face will give you the opportunity to try something new and different to dramatically change the way work gets done. While this task appears beneficial, the approach may seem daunting. Here are tried-and-true methods our clients have used to get the right solutions for their operations.

Zone in on key performers. When starting the process automation project, identify one or two top performers and a few from the bottom of the pool. Next, spend some time walking in their shoes with the goal of documenting a day-in-the-life of your process workers. This is the only way to truly understand why they do their work the way they do.

Walk in their shoes — literally. The most effective way of doing this is through user observations or “shadowing” the user in their environment. Sit in their cubicle. Ask them to narrate the work they are doing. Question when you need more detail. Request screen shots and copies of any materials they use, such as “cheat sheets” and reference materials. This ensures you have the details to build requirements. Take note of any complaints or challenges. At the end of your time together, ask for a list of their top three “pain points.”

Leverage your tools. To ensure a truly accurate snapshot of the work being done, consider enhancing your discovery process with analytics tools. OpenConnect’s WorkiQ and DiscoveriQ automatically gather detailed process data. This provides “time and motion” data to show the duration being spent in the applications required to complete the process. It gives insight into productive vs. non-productive activity for each user. It will also give you a significant head start on documenting the process automation requirement. In the end, you have an accurate benchmark of your as-is process to later compare with the automated solution.

Determine: what’s in it for them? It’s critical to understand what motivates your process workers. This is a major factor that drives work behavior. Take time understanding the KPIs by which they are being measured. Uncover any personal concerns that negate their performance.

Having the full and complete picture of how work is really getting done gives you all the information needed to map out next steps. It opens the gate for new and innovative ways of tackling the work. It also identifies opportunities to automate the parts of the process that do not require cognitive human interaction.

User-centric discovery has been proven to reduce re-work both in software design and for RPA projects.Equally as important, it helps with user acceptance rates when a new solution is rolled out. This is because the end users have participated in the process and feel a sense of ownership.

If you missed Part 1 of this blog series, click here to read “Three Steps to Jump-start Your Process Automation Project.” Next time, we will share the importance of measuring the success of your automation project.

In the meantime, OpenConnect is ready to guide you through the discovery process and help build a business case. Click here to contact us today to schedule a DiscoverNow session.

Three Steps to Jump-start Your Process Automation Project

Having worked with many companies on their process improvement initiatives, I have found that the hardest part of getting them started is simply figuring out where to start. There are so many opportunities for improvement, but most companies don’t have the luxury of tackling them all at once. So where do you start?

It’s important to pick the right processes to kick things off, because you must be able to show significant impact and return on investment for your improvements. The first project inevitably becomes the proof point for the value of your process improvement initiative.

The most common challenge is overcoming internal politics. It’s easy to become distracted by the leaders who are making the most noise about fixing their process when there might be other areas that can yield a better return for the company. Unless you get all of your stakeholders in the same room to prioritize your list as a team, you run the risk of focusing on the wrong area.

1. Align goals and get your team on the same page.

Start by setting aside half a day to get your leadership team on the same page. Your meeting should begin with a reminder of the overall goals of the company, and the ultimate goal of your process improvement initiative. Everyone should bring their list of processes they think need the most improvement.

2. Apply metrics to the processes you recommend for automation.

We all know you can’t automate all processes at once. That means that your team is going to need to prioritize. In order to remove the politics from your prioritization efforts, you must apply metrics to the processes you wish to automate:

  • What is the motivation for automating the process? Is it reducing costs, increasing throughput, improving quality, or something else?
  • What is the measure that represents the value of what needs to change? For example, measures might include cost per work item, time to complete, or number of errors.
  • What is the current value for the metrics being measured?
  • What is the goal for the metrics?

3. Prioritize based on facts.

Now that you know the “value” of each of the processes on your wish list, it’s easier to objectively prioritize the processes with the best interests of the company in mind. When you are able to successfully able to get your leadership team to think at the “big picture” level, you have a better chance of more quickly achieving return on your investment.

Now that you know where to start, it’s time to kick off your first automation project.

Next time, I’ll talk about using user-centric discovery to ensure you have the most accurate requirements ensuring a successful start your automation process.

In the meantime, if you’d like OpenConnect to guide you through your discovery process and help you to build a business case to justify your project, click here and contact us today to schedule a DiscoverNow session.