Example of robotics project and end-to-end delivery roadmap
Author: George Peters
Automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and direct processing are having a profound impact on the global financial services (FS) arena. Very few industries in history have experienced such a rapid rise in popularity, with 76% of senior decision makers (1) in FS stating that they believe automation and artificial intelligence will be essential to the success of their business. This explains the desire to adopt new technologies to allow companies to do more with less by increasing operational efficiency.
The speed of technology adoption could leave financial services companies open to falling into common robot rabbit holes while implementing a solution. This blog will be the first in a two-part series aimed at informing decision makers of a typical “best practice” delivery roadmap for an automation project, using the example of robotics from Be | A case study of shaping the future of the United Kingdom (Be UK). The second blog will highlight common mistakes and misconceptions that decision makers make when providing an automated solution. The desired outcome of these blogs is to encourage companies to think about the steps involved before agreeing to invest in these technologies.
Automation discovery stage
Before implementation and delivery plans for potential automated solutions can be proposed, it is necessary to carry out a series of pre-action steps to create a cost- and prioritized shortlist of automation processes.
Many companies make the mistake of not investing enough in due diligence of an automation use case before delivery, and this can lead to a number of pitfalls that will be discussed in the follow-up second blog.
Figure 1: Pre-delivery steps of the robots
Figure 1 can be broken down into four main stages of work that need to be done to make sure that the right processes are automated in the right order.
The first stage – creation of the functional process
Interviews are conducted across departments within the company to record a long list of evaluations. The company itself is in a better position to detail its operations and vulnerabilities, so using this to guide initial investigations is an effective way to start.
Phase Two – Automation Assessments
Automation assessment workshops should be conducted on the long list of each functional area, with key process subject experts (SMEs) and process owners present in these sessions to provide in-depth process details. Each process in the list is benchmarked against each other to reveal its suitability and suitability for automation, and to confirm an estimate of implementation efforts.
The operations are arranged in order from quick profit and high potential to “nice”, creating a priority shortlist. The five to ten most important processes for cost-benefit analysis will then be selected. Information will be required about each step of the process, the cost per full-time employee (FTE) for the time to execute a case, and the number of exceptions to achieve the most accurate results.
A common question asked by automation project sponsors is “What characteristics separate processes when prioritizing them for automation?”
Figure 2: Process characteristics to consider before automation from low to high importance
A set of process characteristics must be considered when deciding which one to evaluate and prioritizing. In general, if the process is not manual, rule-based, in a structured digital format, and is not repetitive or repetitive, you can rule it out as a candidate for automation.
Further considerations should be given about potential cost savings and delivery costs. If the process is very complex and spreads across many disparate architectural systems, this will result in increased delivery cost and operational risk when deploying the process to live.
Finally, if process automation doesn’t yield compelling reductions in employee handling time and errors, while yielding a quick ROI, then it’s not worth considering automation.
The third stage – the process of deep diving
An in-depth analysis of each process should be carried out to map the overall steps. Prior to entering a hands-on workshop, the stakeholder may already have process maps or standard operating process documents. These should be utilized to enrich any workshop that will be held. It will help SMEs in the process to clarify the “happy path, unhappy path and exception processes” and identify the stakeholders that interact with the overall flow. This information will then be compiled together into an “as is” process map and process definition document, which will be used to create a “future” automation process map and solution design document. These documents are very important for any developer who is building automated solutions.
Stage Four – Delivery Plan/Business Case
A feasibility study is formed that will justify the investment of the business and provide tangible benefits. Included in this:
- Project schedules
- Resource and funding requirements
- Cost-benefit analysis
- Risks and dependencies
- Tool suggestions
Automated delivery steps
The flow of delivery should begin once the pre-work steps have been fully implemented.
Figure 3 Depicts what to expect during a typical RPA delivery roadmap using a tool like Blue Prism.
Figure 3: A typical robot delivery journey
The focus in the initiation phase is to ensure that all information from the discovery phase, including documents and process maps, is in place to ensure a smooth development initiation. Any tool that is selected must be installed on the client’s development, testing and production server, and thus the infrastructure must be built to deliver an automated solution from the offset.
Management of the first and second stage
using the example in Figure 3, the result of the first stage of management is to have a custom application object layer developed for each different system that emerges in an end-to-end process. An operation can be performed in many different software packages, so a detailed object must be created for each of them. Next, the second management stage is where these application objects are grouped together in a processing layer. This is where all the business logic and rules that govern the flow of data are contained by an automated process. This solution will represent the first draft and initial protection testing is performed.
The third stage of management
User acceptance testing is performed using the designed and confirmed test cases in the second stage. Oftentimes, there will be tweaks to the solution here, as testing usually reveals scenarios that the client didn’t consider when describing process flows. This stage will also be the first case where the solution is tried in a live environment and closely monitored to see how it reacts when under stress. If the bot exceeds the acceptable test rate limit, a logout can be granted to move the solution into a live production environment.
The live solution will be moved to run in a “business as usual” environment for production. Typically, there will be further steps or additional processes for automation, and after a project review with developers, project managers and client stakeholders, this will be given a “going forward”.
This first blog sought to demystify the roadmap for a typical robotics project, and prepare those embarking on similar engagement for the potential challenges they face. The key from this blog is to prepare well before jumping into automation initiatives. Former AWS chief technology officer Werner Vogel once said, “Everything fails all the time, so plan to fail and nothing fails.”
advisory group in BE UK Many automation projects have been presented using similar frameworks, adapting them to different customer situations and project delivery methodology patterns. Contact us for guidance and support if your company embarks on an automation campaign to reduce costs and achieve greater process efficiencies in 2022, and we’ll be happy to help you on your journey.
Reference: 1) Marketing Journal. 2021. Conversational Artificial Intelligence: The Medicines Gateway to Full Adoption of Artificial Intelligence. [online] Available at: