Robotic Process Automation (RPA) will have a huge impact on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. However, there is a lot of uncertainty on how the RPA journey might look like within any organisation when there are worries around automation and its impact on the existing human workforce. The uncertainty is completely reasonable and our first blog post around RPA sets out the factors you should consider. This follow-up post is about using a specific tool to test its potential in real time – a minimum viable bot (MVB).
An MVB is a way to conceptualise the automation journey by creating a software robot with just enough features to satisfy operational gains and expectations from process automation. It can provide feedback on what a future RPA roadmap looks like, demonstrating the potential offered by RPA and its specific impact within an organisation. The three key stages that can help you navigate to the route of an MVB is imagine, run and learn.
The imagine stage helps companies understand what they need from automation by answering the following questions:
- How do you want to see automation help you get your organisation from current state to A to target state B by achieving some operational excellence?
- How could automation add value to your customer experiences?
- Would it add value to your employees’ work and increase their morale?
- What would be the key benefits of the automation in the short term and long term, considering the process landscape of the organisation?
- What are the target business units where processes are highly manual, repetitive and rule-based?
The run stage helps you quickly test at a very high level if automation will achieve your expectations and/or tests your hypothesis for operational gains. You may choose to start by selecting a small process that is highly manual, repetitive in nature and matches with the benefits envisioned during the imagine stage. You may also engage an automation partner who can help you test your process quickly, effectively and cheaply.
The last stage of setting up an MVB is learn, where you use data available to create insights around RPA and can engage stakeholders to illustrate its benefits. These insights will help you understand RPA’s value within your business function, how it functions in relation to staff, and its potential benefits in relation to customer experience or end-user experience. It also helps you in building a responsive support model around automations that could continuously improve the RPA journey. This stage can further be used as feedback for your continuous improvement practices, adding new items to your digital roadmap, removing the causes of defects and minimising variability in the processes catalogue.
Therefore, going through the process of setting up an MVB may provide a company with competitive advantage. With knowledge of how automation will influence your organisation’s process, technology and people, companies can adapt RPA faster and achieve excellence through operating efficiencies, improved employee morale, better customer relationships and an improved value-driven network in the organisation. These stages all clarify whether RPA will be essential for your business.
Last but not least, you would have a minimum viable tiny little software robot to work within the IT eco-system of your organisation, establishing a footprint and momentum that enables you to progress further and faster on your overall digital journey.
For more on how Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is already delivering value, and how the early movers in shared services and other administrative organisations are achieving significant benefits, check out Deloitte's third annual RPA Survey here.