Blog | Jul 6, 2020

A Smarter Way to RPA: Investing in the Process Design Phase


By Tony Higgins - CTO, Blueprint

Most robotic process automation (RPA) pilots start by automating the low-hanging fruit – those simple, straightforward, repeatable processes that are easily automated. These straightforward processes should deliver initial results fast and help prove the potential return on investment (ROI) of automation. This is fine when you are just starting out, but as you mature and attempt to scale RPA to more complex and multi-layered processes, that is an entirely different beast. Challenges such as delivery delays, high maintenance costs, and the risk of non-compliance all arise from higher-level design oversights. Therefore, to scale effectively and achieve the maximum ROI without incurring costly risks, it’s critical that organizations invest in the design phase.

In some organizations, the RPA design phase is overlooked entirely. Companies often automate a process exactly as it flows in a manual version. By doing so, you might be making an inefficient or ineffective process run automatically, 24/7. As RPA matures in these enterprises, they recognize these issues and begin to bring design elements into their automation process.

To design better processes, you must first ensure you have a thorough understanding of the current state. This understanding requires full visibility into the current process execution and role in your business. There are numerous process mining and discovery tools that can help teams unearth this data. Once you’ve gathered this information, it should be assembled into a collaborative tool. This way, stakeholders can better understand processes within the larger enterprise context as they plan how to optimize or re-engineer the process.

After mapping the current-state processes, the next step is to design your future-state processes within the larger context of your business. This stage is often done manually in a Process Design Document (PDD). The PDD is typically a paper-based document that includes all information about a process’ current state, its expected future state, and any constraints or dependencies. Although this is a significant step in the right direction, it can be hard to show and understand the varying levels of complexity within the process in a paper document. Furthermore, the PDD can quickly become incredibly complex, convoluted, and difficult to manage.

One alternative is to replace your paper-based PDD with a digital platform. Tools like Blueprint’s Enterprise Automation Suite, available on Blue Prism Digital Exchange, make it easy for teams to model, design and optimize process flows in a centralized and collaborative tool. The digital platform houses all information related to your business, including customer journeys, business value streams, business dependencies, rules, constraints, and compliance requirements. In Blueprint, you can also define all non-functional requirements that must be considered, ensuring that the automation works as expected. By connecting and aligning these elements during the design phase, you will significantly reduce the risk of non-compliance.

Doing all of the above in a digital tool versus a paper-based document will reveal a number of benefits, including:

  • Improved visibility and understanding across processes
  • Faster process design
  • Reduced re-work and maintenance costs by including all stakeholders and dependencies in the design phase

To bring even more value to your RPA investment, a platform like Blueprint can integrate directly with Blue Prism. After designing your processes within Blueprint, you can sync the optimized skeleton processes, including constraints and requirements, with Blue Prism directly.

While the design phase may be the most overlooked stage of the RPA journey, it’s one of the most critical. Thoughtfully designing your processes will help maximize the return on your RPA investment. Designing processes in manual, paper-based documents like the PDD is a step in the right direction, but by integrating a platform like Blueprint with Blue Prism, you’re accelerating the design and delivery of automation. This allows you to scale to more complex processes while maintaining compliance across your digital workforce.