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Chapter 1

Process Discovery: How to Identify RPA & Automation Opportunities

To make the most out of RPA (robotic process automation) and intelligent automation (IA) and get the highest return on investment (ROI) possible, you need to know what to automate.

That knowledge comes from process discovery. Done well, process discovery can transform your business operations for the better, increasing value and productivity. Done poorly—or worse, not at all—and you risk implementing RPA inefficiently.

In this article, we dive into the world of process discovery, its relationship with process mining and how to pinpoint RPA opportunities for your business. We'll also discuss real-life examples and introduce you to valuable process discovery tools you can use to streamline your process discovery journey.

Process Discovery for Automation

What is Process Discovery?

Think of process discovery as detective work that delves into the everyday activities within your organization, uncovering opportunities where automation can reduce costs, increase productivity and improve accuracy.

Whoever takes on process discovery in your business will need to analyze process data and observe how employees perform various tasks. They’ll focus on what files get opened, the keys stroked, data transferred, items clicked and so on.

Some companies use process mapping to visualize what goes into completing a task. From there you can determine which tasks are suitable for automation and which automations should be prioritized for the best ROI.

What is process discovery vs process mining?

Process discovery and process mining are both essential techniques for understanding and optimizing business processes, but they differ in their approach.

While process discovery focuses on observing employee actions and determining how tasks are performed, process mining relies on analyzing event logs from existing systems to gain insights into process patterns and bottlenecks.

In other words, process discovery delves into the human side of tasks and the manual steps involved, whereas process mining looks at the digital footprints left by processes in your IT systems.

Combining both techniques can provide a comprehensive view of your processes, paving the way for successful RPA implementation. SS&C | Blue Prism Process Intelligence (BPPI) combines process and task mining to get the right processes into production efficiently and running up to 30% faster.

How to Identify and Select the Right Business Processes for RPA

Identifying these processes involves a careful analysis of your organization's workflows to determine where automation can have the most significant impact.

At SS&C Blue Prism, we view process discovery as having four distinct stages: business opportunities, process identification, process analysis and assessment, and prioritization.

See the image below for a breakdown of those stages.

  1. Embed good governance to ensure the best decisions for the organization are made consistently.
  2. Create and actively manage your inventory of processes to build confidence through transparency and auditability.
  3. Be strict on where you spend your time to ensure you balance effort with reward.
  4. Make ‘continuous improvement’ a default behavior to maximize the opportunities to increase your ROI.
    Process Discovery Framework

    In the upcoming sections, we'll walk you through a step-by-step guide to process discovery, providing you with a clear roadmap to finding RPA and intelligent automation opportunities. Then, we'll share real-life examples of process discovery to help you visualize the transformative potential of RPA in your organization.

    10 Process Discovery Steps for RPA That Generates High ROI

    If process discovery is broken down into three stages (triage, assessment and analysis), those stages can also be broken down into steps. After all, process discovery is a process itself.

    1. Consult stakeholders and gain buy-in: Engage with employees and management to gather feedback on the proposed automation, address concerns and ensure a smooth transition.
    2. Define your goals and objectives: Before you begin process discovery you should take a step back and determine what you want to achieve with RPA, such as cost reduction, improved efficiency or better customer service.
    3. Identify rule-based and repetitive tasks: Pinpoint tasks that follow a set of rules and require minimal human judgment or intervention, making them ideal candidates for RPA.
    4. Gather and document processes: Identify the processes across various departments and roles, and document the detailed steps involved in each process.
    5. Assess process complexity: Assess the complexity and variability of the processes to understand their suitability for automation.
    6. Evaluate process volume and frequency: Determine the volume of transactions and frequency of the processes to prioritize automation efforts in high-impact areas.
    7. Estimate potential ROI: Calculate the expected return on investment from automating specific processes, taking into account the costs of RPA implementation, maintenance and any process improvements required.
    8. Prioritize automations: Once your ROI is calculated, you can create an order of what automations will be created first.
    9. Pilot and refine: Implement RPA on a small scale for the selected processes, monitor the results and make any necessary adjustments before scaling up.
    10. Scale and optimize: Expand RPA implementation to more processes and consider the broader intelligent automation (IA) suite of technologies to evolve your automation, continuously monitoring, optimizing and iterating as needed to maximize the benefits.

    Each of those steps is important in making process discovery an exercise that generates high ROI from RPA and intelligent automation.

    But as we mentioned previously, process discovery can be streamlined and made more efficient through process intelligence.

    What is process intelligence?

    Process intelligence connects the best aspects of process mining, task mining and business intelligence. It allows you to identify and edit process functions through discovery, analysis and process optimization.

    Process intelligence helps you scale process discovery and automation faster by identifying inefficiencies and running applications at peak process performance.

    Examples of Process Discovery

    To demonstrate the power of business process discovery, here are some examples of improving business processes:

    • Finance operations
    • Customer operations
    • HR operations

    Finance operations

    Imagine a company discovers its accounts payable department spends a significant amount of time manually processing invoices.

    Through process discovery, they can identify the steps involved in invoice processing and pinpoint the most time-consuming and repetitive tasks. With these instances identified, RPA can be used to significantly reduce processing time and human error, leading to substantial cost savings.

    This type of success isn’t imagined either. Laya is able to identify duplicate invoices 49% faster thanks to using process discovery as part of their automation journey.

    Customer operations

    Companies often look to streamline their customer onboarding process, so customers get accurate and helpful service without having to wait.

    Through process discovery, these companies can analyze the tasks involved, including gathering customer information, performing credit checks and account creation. By automating these rule-based tasks with RPA, they can reduce the time it takes to onboard new customers and improve overall customer satisfaction.

    Take it from Utilita, who used process discovery to identify tasks they could automate. Now 50% of their customer service processes are automated.

    HR operations

    Imagine a large organization is seeking to improve its HR operations, specifically focusing on employee data management.

    With process discovery, they can identify the manual steps involved in updating employee records, such as data entry and validation. With RPA they can save time, improve data accuracy and enhance their HR department's overall efficiency.

    Looking for a real-life example? Santander reduced the time it took to onboard new employees by 85% through RPA, using process discovery to understand the potential of HR Automation for employee onboarding.

    Process Discovery Tools You Can Use

    Having the right process discovery tools at your disposal can make business process management (BPM) and process discovery more efficient and effective.

    Here are some tools you can use to identify RPA opportunities in your organization:

    Process assessment tool

    The SS&C | Blue Prism® Process Assessment Tool provides a structured approach to analyzing and evaluating your business processes. It helps you understand which processes are the best candidates for RPA, as well as estimate the potential ROI.

    To get started with the Process Assessment Tool, head here.

    Process intelligence guide

    For those interested in automated process discovery, SS&C Blue Prism has you covered.

    Our guide will help you understand how to utilize process mining tools to automatically uncover insights from your IT systems, ultimately leading to better RPA and IA implementation decisions.

    Access the Process Intelligence Guide here.

    Why use these tools?

    Using the right manual or automated business process discovery tool and process discovery techniques can significantly enhance your ability to analyze business processes and identify RPA and IA opportunities.

    The result? A more efficient, productive organization ready to tackle the challenges of today's fast-paced business world.

    RPA and IA are some of the best process improvement tools out there for businesses of all sizes and in all industries. Learn more about starting your RPA and intelligent automation journey here.


    About the Author

    Alexis Veenendaal

    Alexis Veenendaal is an Associate Content Writer and Editor at SS&C Blue Prism. She’ll tell you all the cool tips and tricks for implementing intelligent automation into your workplace. She has lived and worked internationally as a professional writer and designer for nearly a decade after graduating from the University of Lethbridge for English Literature. Her personal pursuits include authoring books and digital cartography.

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    Next: Chapter 2

    The Top 10 Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Benefits

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