RPA Foundations: Process Discovery and Documentation

11th August 2020

Mark Barrett

Solving problems and increasing productivity with automation. We specialise in workforce led process improvements releasing time for more rewarding work

Saving time and effort in automation, process discovery, and documentation.

You can save a large amount of time and effort by getting the foundations of your automated process right early on. Even the best developers using proven automation tools will struggle to deliver an effective and reliable automated process, if the information they are given is not accurate and complete. Lack of detail, that includes business logic, rules and variance in processes are a major contributor to delay and cost in deploying and scaling Robotic Process Automation.

Mapping a process with a single team member or subject matter expert can limit the captured detail for all but very basic processes or tasks. This in turn can cause delays in the following.

  • Process peer review – Capturing variance between how others perceive or execute the process.
  • Automation development – RPA developers require clear and granular detail to develop successfully automated processes.
  • Testing and deployment – Missed process elements can cause failures during testing and deployment that can be difficult to identify and resolve.

There are also many other items that need to be considered when capturing and documenting processes such as information governance, security, and the lifecycle of the applications themselves. Input is required across the business to ensure that an automated process is not going to fail due to an application upgrade, or is not compliant with information governance.

There are some great courses, now freely available, from the main automation vendors on business and process analysis, as well as an ever-growing ecosystem of discovery tools. These do not however make up for experience and knowledge, due to the limitations in the scope of accelerated learning.

When embarking on the automation journey or looking to accelerate the adoption and scope of automation, getting the analysis and documentation right in readiness for development can save a lot of time and cost. This also has the benefit of providing a much more successful perception of your RPA project across the organisation and customers.

Here at Automation Outcomes we have looked at and tested many tools to help with process discovery and documentation, with different levels of success. Here are four of the tools we have found that help to avoid the common pitfalls in process discovery and are RPA vendor agnostic.

  • Blueworks Live. Blueworks Live – Overview – United Kingdom | IBM Detailed process mapping, collaboration and documentation tool from IBM with excellent training and supporting videos.
  • Skore. Tool for mapping out processes rapidly and features an RPA module that helps to rapidly qualify process suitability and business case. https://www.getskore.com/
  • Process Advisor. Process Advisor—Process Mining | Microsoft Power Automate Microsoft’s tool for recording and mapping of processes with an analysis engine to identify process improvement and automation opportunities. Aimed at enabling the workforce to record and analyse their own processes as well as Business Analysts.
  • Mimica. Tool for automated detailed process mapping at a granular level that uses an AI engine to filter out process noise and accurately document variance. https://mimica.ai/

Both are web-based and, in our experience, easy to use, as well as providing a good output that reduces manual effort. They also minimise the amount of input and review time needed from users of target processes which can impact productivity or create delays.

For us, the vendor-agnostic point was also important. Vendor selection should be completed using the context of business vision, objectives, target processes, and existing technical capability. Different tools have different strengths and this context will help to qualify the right tools for your organisation, although this is a topic for another blog article to come soon.

There are lots of products that can help, and accompanied by experienced Business Analysts and RPA Developers, will greatly reduce cost, time, and risk in your automation journey. When starting use experienced resources alongside internal capability and get the foundations right. This will help save a lot of effort, enable rapid acceleration, and deliver an exponential return in time and productivity.

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