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Blog | Mar 23, 2018

How to Use an IA & RPA Framework

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Why Use an IA or RPA Framework?

When you build a house, you probably won’t start with the roof. In the same way, building a successful robotic process automation (RPA) program should begin with a solid foundation.

With a structurally sound framework, you can scale your RPA into the broader scope of intelligent automation (IA), which also uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), among other technologies, to automate workflows and significantly improve throughput.

IA provides digital workers that follow rules-based business processes and interact with your systems in the same way human employees currently do. Think of them like your construction workers. They’re hammering the nails, putting up the drywall and laying down the floors. But they can’t start building without a blueprint.

The SS&C | Blue Prism® Robotic Operating Model (ROM™), now the ROM2, is your automation blueprint. It guides you step-by-step through IA/RPA implementations, monitoring, improvement and scaling your team’s capabilities to ensure you reach your key business outcomes.

What is an RPA Framework?

Generally speaking, an RPA framework is a set of RPA tools and strategies for improving business processes. Creating an automation pipeline is often seen in two different approaches: top-down and bottom-up.

What’s a top-down approach?

This is where you start your automation process at a higher level, typically focusing on broader business objectives and gradually honing into specifics of individual tasks or processes.

What’s a bottom-up approach?

This encourages employees to pitch ideas for how to use intelligent automation in specific business processes. It’s a tactical, incremental methodology for implementing IA, where your strategy begins at the lower level of individual tasks or processes and gradually builds up to larger automation initiatives.

Why ROM?

The ROM2 is SS&C Blue Prism’s version of an RPA framework. It’s an operating model designed to help you take your organization's vision of a digital workforce and make it a reality. By following the ROM2 as a guide, you can develop scalable automation solutions to span your enterprise and connect disparate systems.

The ROM2’s 5 steps for building an agile automation program

We’ve broken the stages of building your IA program into five steps:

  1. Strategy: Develop a strategy and governance framework in line with your organization’s key vision. 
  2. Workforce: Transition into a unified workforce by seamlessly connecting employees and digital workers.  
  3. Design: Discover opportunities for your organization’s transformation by researching, consulting and designing your operating model. 
  4. Development: Align your intelligent automation delivery methods for improved integration. 
  5. Operations: Use best practices to reach a streamlined workflow and maintain control of business operations. 

What do I need from my automation program?

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to automation. Each organization has its own requirements, infrastructure and goals. But by introducing an operating model, you’re basically translating your strategic automation plan into a shopping list of what you need to get started and how you can follow through with your plans.

Your framework is your ‘what, where and how’. It helps you establish what processes you’ll automate, where your employees’ roles and responsibilities will be and how you’ll integrate the software and tools into your processes.

6 automation strategies to consider

While developing your digital workforce, consider how you’ll implement the following strategies and how important they are to your overall vision:

  1. Develop a business case of what results you hope to achieve.
  2. Strategize how your human and digital workers will collaborate.
  3. Define your business challenges and how you’ll maintain governance, risk and controls.
  4. Establish an architecture and technology suited to IA.
  5. Develop change management strategies to get everyone in your organization on board with IA.
  6. Building a vision to support your organization’s strategic goals.

What happens if I don’t use an IA or RPA framework?

Some organizations take a Wild West approach to their automation initiatives. They have a vague idea of what they’d like to achieve (such as more forms filled out per hour), and they throw a bunch of RPA software robots at the problem.

Unfortunately, this approach often means they haven’t taken the time to identify the best places to deploy digital workers. They’re shooting without aiming.

Another way to think of this approach is a heuristic model: a technique for speeding up problem-solving at the cost of finding an exact solution. It trades completeness and accuracy for speed — essentially, a shortcut. While this might achieve some efficiency gains, it’s hardly scalable or robust.

But by using a robot framework and operating model that encompasses a unified workforce, you can automate across departments and through end-to-end complex business processes.

How Can an RPA Framework Help My Business?

If you have slow business processes or your employees are overworked with mundane, repetitive tasks, it’s time for an automation intervention. IA streamlines business operations so your employees can focus on higher-value tasks.

Strategic IA implementation can help you scale your automation capabilities quickly. But a lack of preparedness can cost you more time and money, reducing the benefits of your automation. Luckily, there are a few ways you can ensure you’re getting the best value for your money. 

4 ways to maximize my automation plan

A framework provides a structured approach to managing your IA, helping you achieve better efficiency, consistency, compliance and optimization. We’ve identified four ways you can maximize your IA initiative:

  1. Identify and automate the right processes: Determine which processes to automate with process mining and task mining. These will locate opportunities and bottlenecks, so you know where to focus your strategy.
  2. Assess and prioritize for automation: Understand the complexity and scope of your automation plan, including all costs and potential benefits for a value score. Then establish a ranking of importance.
  3. Get your people involved: Designate specific duties, such as a Center of Excellence (CoE), to help reach your automation targets and maintain governance. Get your employees to embrace automation by educating them on the benefits and involving them in the solutions.
  4. Monitor and optimize: As your digital workers operate, monitor their performance to ensure they work effectively. Then make the necessary changes so your processes always run at peak performance, getting you the best return on investment (ROI).

SS&C | Blue Prism® Process Intelligence combines process mining, task mining, IA and business process management (BPM) to give users full visibility into their digital workforce, with the ability to monitor, respond and predict future outcomes.

What is business process management?

BPM is a methodology for understanding, measuring, modeling and improving all types of business processes, from individual tasks to entire workflows.

SS&C | Blue Prism® Chorus BPM offers workflow management for users to track, collect analytics and have greater visibility over their processes to see where improvements can be made. It’s a comprehensive BPM suite that includes digital process automation, case management, omnichannel interactions and operational analytics.

The Benefits of an RPA Framework or Robotic Operating Model

A model allows you to strategically implement a digital workforce for the best ROI. The ROM2 offers flexible guidelines tailored to your business’s needs. Its framework coexists with any automation tools, helping you build on your automation maturity regardless of whether you’ve just started or have a well-established IA program. Benefits of the ROM2 include:

  • Reducing risk.
  • Building confidence when deploying IA.
  • Transforming your organization’s vision into action.
  • Increasing buy-in across the organization.
  • Improving the alignment between IT and business operations.
  • Ensuring a rapid and repeatable approach to process delivery.
  • Giving better control and visibility across the organization.

Creating Automations Easily

As part of our SS&C Blue Prism digital workforce is the optional installation of Blue Prism 7. Version 7 allows users to take advantage of our API, browser-based Control Room and Authentication Server.

Within this environment is the Object Studio. This is the design area where processes and objects are created, modified and undergo initial testing before being published to the Control Room. The studio has easy accessibility even for non-tech users with its drag-and-drop interface, allowing process flows to be quickly designed and implemented. The studio allows users to:

  • Create new processes.
  • Edit existing processes.
  • Clone existing processes.
  • Delete processes.

Our Object Studio provides two ways of identifying user interface (UI) elements to use in visual business objects. The spy tool picks out visual elements for automation, and the application navigator forms traverse the UI automation to identify which element is required in the model.

An optional addition to this is our automation hub, called the Blue Prism Hub, which gives the user centralized authentication control, where they can use the browser-based Control Room to monitor their digital workforce.

What Do I Do Next?

IA changes how your people and customers interact with your business. It automates error-prone, tedious tasks and frees your employees to focus on higher-value work. This gives you full control over your processes. 

But without a clear vision for your IA program, you can quickly lose track of what you’re trying to accomplish. You need a tangible answer to the ‘what, where and how’ of your automation. This will establish a robust and scalable digital workforce for your organization.

Process automation is a continuous cycle of learning and improvement. And with an effective operating model as your blueprint, such as the ROM2, you can build the perfect structure — with room to add on as your capacity grows.

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