INCORPORATE LEAN METHODOLOGIES ON ROBOTIC PROCESS AUTOMATION (RPA)

Companies are currently experiencing the shock waves of automation moving at high speed to disrupt businesses, energizing them to rework some of their priorities and in turn, to future-proof themselves. For insurance organizations, the appetite for RPA is particularly whetted by the challenge to cut the Gordian Knot of having to balance heavy regulations and compliance requirements with the need for aggressive cost reductions and efficiency gains while also preserving or enhancing customer and stakeholder experience.

LEAN, SIX SIGMA, and RPA.

“Don’t automate a broken or unstructured process. There’s nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

In Generali’s view, Lean Six Sigma and RPA complement each other. With Lean Six Sigma you manage to reduce the manual load by eliminating waste; and by simplifying and standardizing processes. But then you reach a terminus where you realize you are not able to eliminate all the grunt work. This is where RPA comes into its own.

It expands the Lean six Sigma toolkit with an approach that empowers the business to continue to improve and move up the Sigma scale without the need for big IT initiatives.

“Two birds with one stone the 80:20 rule.”

When selecting and acting upon the opportunities for automation, the premise is that getting full process change and standardization takes time. So instead what you can do is combine the preparation for robotic deployment at the same time as trying to understand and reengineer some of those processes. Therefore, it’s very important to take an analysis of RPA before implementation.

Behind this is that for 80%of the process you could automate expeditiously and without an issue, but for the other 20%- which might be exceptions, or more complicated aspects, or things that require change because the process is only broken in parts — could be placed in a separate bucket and delayed to a later date. Therefore, this is helping to focus on scanning the process and starting to think about re-engineering.

Why RPA Needs Process Analysis

There are several reasons why process analysis, reengineering, and process mapping essential to and effective RPA implementation. If the existing process is overly complex, with unnecessary steps that could be eliminated before RPA is implemented. RPA involves the codification of business rules, but in many cases, business rules haven’t been examined for many years and don’t make sense in the current environment. Besides, existing business rules are sometimes described as requiring judgment, but they can be turned into more-accurate and more-consistent algorithms for better, more consistent decision making.

In many companies, the level of process knowledge and understanding is quite low. The company may have collections of standard operating procedures, but they are often poorly documented and out of date. Each employee typically follows their understanding of best practices. By working with high-performing employees to challenge and improve the process and embed this into RPA, we have seen not only significant improvements in the processes being automated but also reduced process problems across other parts of the business.

RPA-based process design can restore some useful steps at little cost. Some organizations have cut out steps from existing processes that add customer value because the necessary resources to perform them weren’t available. For example, in-process communications with customers about the state of their orders or applications may be time-consuming for human workers to send and receive, but they are very easy for robots. A U.S. health care firm, for example, had over the years stripped a process down to the minimal viable steps to achieve efficiencies. However, the process resulted in a lack of communication with the service users, and that in turn drove up costs in the contact centers.

With changes like these, a process enabled by RPA can become much more efficient and effective than a process that is automated but otherwise unchanged. Redesigning processes while implementing RPA can increase the time and cost of the overall initiative, but the return on investment can be as great or greater when compared with RPA implementations with no process change.

In many RPA implementations, there is also the question of whether RPA systems will eliminate some human workers’ jobs. While it is likely that some human functions will be taken over by RPA, in most companies that have implemented the technology, job losses have been relatively minor. Redesigning the process while implementing RPA can help to ensure that human workers are performing tasks that are worthy of their capabilities.

In the past, new technologies such as enterprise resource planning systems and the internet have been the catalyst for many companies to reengineer their business processes. While RPA may not be as dramatic a technology advance as those other examples, it does have the potential to power new process designs. Smart companies will use this technology to enable new ways of performing important business activities.

Conclusion.

What does the future hold for Lean Six Sigma (LSS) in this age of automation when organizations can significantly reduce their processing time (up to 80 percent) by adopting automation?

Automating a broken process yields nothing more than a waste and at a rapid pace. As management expert Peter Drucker said, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

LSS improves process performance by systematically eliminating wastes and reducing variation from the process. In the automation journey, LSS can assist organizations in assessing the candidate process and making the process more suitable for automation. Mover over LSS can help organizations in the following ways at the onset of the automation journey.

· Identifying the right candidates: Constraint or bottleneck processes are prime candidates for RPA. LSS tools such as bottleneck analysis can identify the right candidate processes within the value chain by spotting constraints.

· Improving process stability: LSS can improve the stability and capability of the process by reducing variation in the process, thereby making the process more suitable for automation.

· Improving process robustness: LSS tools such as failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) can uncover the potential failure modes of the process and develop suitable mitigation plans for them, thereby making the process more suitable for automation.

Apply LSS at the beginning of an automation journey to identify the right candidate process and make the process well-suited for the automation.

An optimized and standardized process post-LSS is a better candidate for RPA. Deployment of LSS followed by automation improves both the effectiveness and efficiency of the process and delivers a better return on investment (ROI) for an automation initiative.

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Experienced Lead Robotic Process Automation engineer with a demonstrated history of 7+ working in the industry with the US, UK, Middle East, and Sweden Clients.

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Charith Wickramasinghe.

Charith Wickramasinghe.

Experienced Lead Robotic Process Automation engineer with a demonstrated history of 7+ working in the industry with the US, UK, Middle East, and Sweden Clients.

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