RPA Implementation Roadmap - ByteScout

RPA Implementation Roadmap

Today in this post, we are going to take a look at some of the different stages of planning that is involved in implementing RPA for any small to large scale corporation. We are also going to take a peek at some of the available tools in the market for this job. Okay then, let’s start the post with some definitions.

Make Your Robots – Try RPA Tools

  1. Types of RPA Tools
  2. RPA Considerations
  3. RPA Tools
  4. RPA Project Milestones

Types of RPA Tools

Attended automation:

In attended automation, the bot (aka the actor) inactively lives on the end-user’s machine and is invoked by the client on specific occasions. The activation needs to effectively occur by the client’s activity (either passive or active invocation) since it can be really difficult to hard-code the actual instance of the invocation.

The attended automation tools are kind of like virtual assistants. Their goal is to boost productivity by helping human workers. Attended tools mainly assist the front-office processes by collaborating with the employees. Another advantage of these tools is that they can reside in either the workstations or the private servers.

The take-home point is to dispatch the RPA bot at the correct time. The activation can be designed in a number of different ways.

  1. The human staff needs to manually dispatch the bot.
  2. A window can be used instead of a discrete condition to activate the bot. This is used mainly when the precise moment of activation cannot be defined properly. Think about a support staff attending a call – the duration of the whole cell can be defined as the window.
  3. The bot can be made to invoke semi-automatically when predetermined conditions are met. A data scraping bot might start reacting as soon as some of the important fields in a form are filled by a person, for example.

Unattended automation

Unattended automation tools, in contrast to the attended tools, run mostly in the background and works on its own. Not every one of the processes needs to run in the foreground – they can keep running in the background processing the information. This could be beneficial for the back-end workers dealing mainly with data. And this is the main idea of unattended automation tools.

The aim of the unattended tools is to achieve end-to-end automation, and the software bots have the freedom to execute the entire process independent of others. Unattended tools can help make major savings, increase productivity, increase productivity, and improve compliance.

The invocation of the automated bots can take place in a variety of ways.

  1. Most of the bots are activated when they sense a field that has been filled with useful data.
  2. In a slightly more complicated scenario, a bot can dispatch another bot. This proves to be helpful when the outcome of a procedure is not constant and depends on the actual input.
  3. Automation software known as Orchestrators can, at some specific instance of the process, start or stop a bot.
  4. Another very crude yet effective activation technique is to invoke the bot at only some discrete time intervals (maybe after days, weeks, or even months). The responsibility of the bots is processing the batched data, compared to the earlier ones where most of the work is done in an online fashion.

Hybrid automation

Despite the above classification, the most common type of automation tool that we see is mostly a composition of the above two. The big enterprises that have to deal with both front-end and back-end processes employ hybrid tools taking advantage of both the worlds. This can be used to effectively minimize the negatives as much as possible.

RPA Implementation Road Map

RPA Considerations

Any change is costly. You need to take into account many aspects of RPA. The following are some of the aspects that you need to consider before choosing a tool for your organization.

  • Flexibility: Many organizations utilize Virtual machine-based workflow and tools (think Citrix). While that provides an immense amount of freedom and flexibility it can make the task of implementing newer technologies like RPA quite challenging. So the automation tool must be as platform-independent and robust as possible.
  • Fast Deployment: The automation bot needs to communicate with a lot of different modules lying in the presentation layer in order to complete a task successfully. This whole process should be as less time-consuming and bothersome as possible for quick and painless deployment. A lot of stuff depends on the deployment as deployment is merely a single phase in the whole pipeline. So having a fast deployment can help a lot in the long run.
  • Adaptability: Adaptability is also a very big factor that you have to take into consideration. While selecting an RPA tool one must consider how rapidly and effectively the device can adapt to the ever-changing business processes or exceptions. The transformation process is all about coping with the changes, after all. The automation tools need to be able to cope up with these changes effectively.
  • Usability: Any RPA tool is meant to increase the efficiency of human resources while being as easy to master as possible. Additionally, a simple and easy to use tool requires less training and domain knowledge to master meaning it can save a considerable amount of time and money over time.
  • Security: Security is one of the most significant yet oftentimes somewhat neglected parameters while judging an RPA tool. So you better reconsider the security aspects of the new RPA tools as it is going to benefit your organization in the long run. While it’s somewhat of an optional point for most of the smaller organizations, most of the bigger organizations take the security issues very seriously. For them, even a small security loophole can prove to be fatal and cause loss of millions of dollars.
  • Cost of Ownership: This incorporates the underlying cost to set up the RPA framework, any expenses related to royalty or license, and maintenance cost. Every one of these costs must be considered closely as they are going to be crucial for deciding the investment amount that goes behind the tools.
  • Support and maintenance: The after-sale service is an equally important feature to consider while choosing an RPA tool for your organization. While almost all the tools come with some form of technical support for a specified length of time, the quality and the extent of the support can vary from one vendor to another wildly. So keep in mind to do proper market research before fixating your gaze on a single product.

Well, that covers most of the parameters. These are some of the most influential and important aspects of RPA tools. Since you know the parameters you need to investigate while choosing the instrument by now, you have some ideas as to when to pick which one.

RPA Tools

There are a lot of tools out there for automating business processes. All of the tools though are not meant to be used the same way. Alongside ByteScout RPA Tools, some of the popular names in the same domain include AntWorks, Automation Anywhere, BluePrism, Pega, and UiPath.

ByteScout provides a variety of automation tools for commercial organizations. Some of the tools that you can employ to automate processes are as follows:

  1. Barcode and QR code reader: These two tools can be utilized for reading barcodes and QR codes from various file types (images, PDFs or scanned copies) as well as generating them from scratch. The tool supports a wide range of image formats including, but not limited to, JPG, PNG, and TIFF. The tool comes with comprehensive documentation (including tons of ready-to-use examples for ease of use).
  2. Text extractor: It can extract text from a multitude of different types of documents including docs, PDFs, and scanned copies. These AI-powered extraction tools help extract information from mostly unstructured files (e.g. big text documents such as email or invoice)  and electronic documents. These include documents like images, PDFs, scans, spreadsheets, etc.
  3. Invoice extractor: It can parse the invoice intelligently and extract crucial information like invoice ID, due date, or total amount. It can also output the data in different formats like JSON, XML, and CSV.
  4. Document splitter and merger: Often you would find yourself looking to merge multiple documents into a single file. Say, you have multiple images of the same invoice and you want to merge them into a single PDF for ease of maintenance. Or the opposite, that is split a single document into multiple pieces. Again, say you want to take out a single page from a PDF. What you need is a splitting tool that can split the document into multiple pieces. This tool can be used for splitting as well as merging any document or PDF.
  5. Change detector: This tool comes in handy in case you want to keep track of all the important files (say, invoices) in a folder and want to know if any file has been added or removed recently.

Advantages of ByteScout

The advantage of using ByteScout compared to others is multidimensional. Following are some of the most obvious ones:

  • ByteScout tools provide a perfect blend of power and flexibility. On one hand, they give access to their powerful API for you to decide what to include and what not to. On the other hand, they come with the visual editor for times when drag-n-drop is suited best.
  • Most of the tools can be run both online as well as offline meaning it’s both more flexible and secure. It works offline implies there’s no worry of disclosure of any confidential information of your organization.
  • Many of the tools (such as the barcode reader) come with many ready-made templates that can be utilized as they are. You simply need to choose the template, optionally do some editing to personalize them and that’s it – they are ready to be used.
  • ByteScout offers a free trial for most of their tools so that you can realize firsthand whether these tools are suitable for your organization or not. So, it’s a win-win situation.

RPA Project Milestones

The planning stage involves strategizing for overcoming many smaller obstacles.

Picking the right process for automation is the single most crucial task in the planning stage. Some of the important features of an automated process include repetitiveness, excessive volume, low to very low complexity in terms of human intelligence.

Take the invoicing task, for instance – one of the most common examples for RPA. Think about a big organization that deals with different vendors and each of the vendors’ issues invoices. It’s a well-defined task – an invoice arrives, the crew cross-verifies the invoice, checks for any anomaly, inspect the product delivered, and processes the invoice accordingly. But as usual, this manual procedure has its very own boundaries.

The whole workflow is capped by the maximum number of invoices that a human resource can process during an interval. Moreover, humans are prone to making unwanted mistakes. Such processes are good candidates for Robotic Process Automation as they increase both accuracy and speed.

  • Scaling up bit by bit 

The key to RPA’s success lies in beginning moderately. Start small (very small, in fact), keep tackling the little things first, and then scale up step by step. The best thing you can do in this situation is to run a pilot project. Try to find a task that is specific to only a single department, say accounts, or support.

The secret here is to find a direct, high-volume process that doesn’t involve too many different departments (optimally concerned with a single department), and whose business results are quantifiable. 

A division, for instance, has only a handful of human staff physically uploading data in the system. Let’s say the organization anticipates beforehand that the load is going to increase considerably in the next few months. Such an opportunity can be utilized to test the robustness and efficiency of the new automation tools at a small-scale.

Executing a pilot presently can enable the organization to be prepared for the day when the work-volume is really going to sky-rocket.

  • Demystifying cultural myths

Robotic Process Automation is not going to go anywhere, at least not anytime soon. The reality is that if you’re not going to implement it, chances are your competitors are going to. Manual labor is mistake-prone and has limitations – it is hard to scale and is not even comparable to the speed of the automated processes.

Employment of automation tools, especially RPA robots, can have certain negative impacts on human resources. Most of the time, RPA bots are thought of as something that is going to replace manual labor completely. But the fact is quite the opposite locating the exact processes that can be automated successfully is quite a daunting task, in fact.

The mundane, repetitive duties which are best suited for automation rarely promise any professional growth. Alternatively, this generation should be considered as a possibility to re-skill the lowest level personnel – supporting them to improve their knowledge and ability sets. This helps create an ecosystem suitable for learning new skills that are conducive to a better work environment.

  • Starting a partnership

Various instruments are accessible today and one single tool is barely sufficient. Any corporation looking to implement the RPA in their workflow should preferably work with another entity that can direct and guide them.

No two associations have a similar process structure regardless of how similar the end product or the domain that they work in is. For example, think about two different telecom giants. While both their aim and domain are identical, the internal processes can be hugely different depending on their workflow and goal. One organization might be more interested in gaining new consumers whereas the other might be interested in serving the existing ones. This would reflect in the structure of their internal processes as well.

Once the IT department finishes gathering requirement details and proposals from the business department, the partner ought to be prepared to lead the pack in directing the feasibility study of the processes.

  • Signing an outcome-oriented contract

Now that the planning stage is over and dealt with, it’s time to go for a contract. The standard form of the contract varies from organization to organization depending on the specifics. That being said, the rule of thumb is unless you’re under tight time constraints, it’s almost always better to go for an outcome-based contract instead of a milestone-based one.

At the end of the specified period, you can assess whether the aforementioned outcome has been successfully achieved or not, or how much of it has been achieved. This way you can minimize the amount of risk that you and your organization takes.