Automating Requirements Gathering for your Automation Process

With any software development project, the most time-consuming, critical factor is getting the requirements right. Meeting with employees, documenting their work, recording the necessary data, and more. For an automation project, you need to know the exact process flow from start to finish, including screen names, screen captures of each screen, and specific field-by-field steps taken on each screen.  These are the details used to create automation scripts, and it can’t be done without them. This means dedicating hours and resources to subject-matter experts and end users through the discovery process and having someone sit with process workers and gather all of this detailed information.

More and more we work with companies that come to us already frustrated with what lies ahead. They have a laundry list of processes they need to automate. But to make this happen they must first complete the discovery and requirement efforts which can be completely overwhelming and complex. It’s hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel when you aren’t sure where it begins.

With years of experience implementing complex RPA projects, we understand that sometimes the hardest part is getting started. Having a workforce monitoring solution in our portfolio, we’ve worked with clients to change the way automation projects get done. Our solutions help save time—and unnecessary stress—by automating the requirements needed to kick off any automation project.

Leveraging real-time data by monitoring employees as they work, OpenConnect captures a complete and accurate understanding of the details needed to visually map the process.  We developed DiscoveriQ to compile the required screen shots, illustrate the step-by-step field level details of the process, and automatically generate a requirements document.

Using DiscoveriQ reduces the requirements and discovery process by as much as 70% while also ensuring the accuracy of those requirements. This means less iterations of your automation code.

If your company is struggling with pending automation projects, regardless of which RPA solution you are using, schedule a demonstration of DiscoveriQ. Click here to learn more.

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.

How RPA Gives You the Flexibility You Need

Over the past few years, the healthcare insurance industry has been the focus of a tidal wave of changes — regulations, new market challenges, open enrollment, labor challenges with business process outsourcing, and a significantly more complex operating environment. More than ever before, healthcare insurance companies can benefit from robotic process automation (RPA). Interestingly, the question we get the most is: “Where do we start?”

While we and other vendors can help you discover the processes in detail (for example, please see our complete-package solution), perhaps we can start with identifying the operations areas that will net the most significant ROI. OpenConnect has been helping healthcare insurance companies automate for over 12 years, and here are the top four areas where we have seen our customers derive the most significant benefits from automation:

  • Claims adjudication
  • Enrollment and membership services
  • Provider data services
  • Revenue cycle management

Each of these operations has a complex need for both human and robot interaction, due to the challenge of data management. If the data is incorrect or not normalized, core systems begin to create exceptions, which drives up the need for more human labor interaction. Even worse, the patient experience suffers.

For many companies, these menial tasks and other routine data-entry processes continue to be handled manually. The cost for maintaining that status quo can be steep: it costs $57,725 to hire and employ just one data entry worker (this figure is based on data gathered from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Center for American Progress).

Working the plan — but staying flexible

Let’s consider the game of football (for our friends outside the U.S., we mean what you call “American football,” not what we call “soccer”). In football, the quarterback’s job is to direct his team down the field. And, although the team has a game plan, the coaching staff isn’t afraid to have the quarterback “call an audible” to adjust to the opponent’s constantly changing defensive “looks.” Using his vision of the whole playing field, the quarterback’s situationally responsive selection could be either running the ball or throwing a pass – each of which may deliver a successful outcome.  In fact, the so-called “run/pass option” play has become increasingly popular, precisely because of that flexibility it gives teams.

Much like a football team’s need to change things on the fly as they see new and shifting challenges looming ahead, healthcare insurers also need the flexibility RPA can provide in their strategy. While claims tend to be the first focus, we see customers identify sub-processes every day that can change the outcome of the game — in this case, a correctly paid claim. Think back to the “top four areas” we identified earlier. We have many customers who are attacking claims adjudication and seeing trends in provider data inconsistencies. This new knowledge allows our customers to pivot and begin pointing robots at cleaning provider data, which results in improvement to all claims adjudication rates.

This is the benefit you achieve when robots are implemented based on detailed analysis performed before the implementation. Even when employees are buried in manual data entry work, they’re hard-pressed to raise the level of the team’s or company’s performance. Starting an automation strategy opens the lens to “calling audibles” for your operational performance. Just like a team that sticks to a game plan even after it’s become clear the other side has overcome it, an annual business plan that involves throwing more human labor and overtime at a problem doesn’t work anymore.

So, as you embrace automation for all the benefits it can and will bring you, be sure to choose not only a vendor but also a plan that will give you maximum flexibility to meet your challenges — both the ones you can see now and the ones you can’t quite see yet.