Driving Continuous Improvement with UiPath Process Discovery Tools
Today's fast-paced business environments drive organizations to do more with less. Robotic Process Automation helps automate routine tasks to reduce costs, improve efficiency, and stay competitive. However, we need to understand our processes before we can reap the benefits of RPA.
Topics Covered in the Article
1. Introduction to Continuous Improvement
Process discovery is the foundation of any successful Robotic Process Automation (RPA) initiative. At its core, process discovery involves analyzing existing business processes to identify areas for improvement and automation. This critical step provides valuable insights into how work is done manually, the people involved, the systems and applications used, and the steps taken to complete the task. The analysis of this information highlights process inefficiencies and bottlenecks that can be eliminated through process standardization or RPA. For example, the analysis might discover that specific steps in a process are redundant or unnecessary or that there are manual tasks that could be automated.
Further, the insights gathered through process discovery help organizations prioritize their optimization and automation efforts. Identifying and focusing on more critical and time-consuming processes for automation ensures organizations achieve quick wins where the impact is high. This approach helps build momentum within the organization to move on with more RPA initiatives. However, the process improvements don't end with a single iteration of discovery and automation. Process discovery also plays a crucial role in continuous improvement. Continuous improvement is a process of continuously evaluating and enhancing processes to increase efficiency and effectiveness. In the context of RPA, continuous improvement is essential to ensure that automation processes are optimized, efficient, and delivering maximum value. Continuously evaluating and improving business and RPA processes can enhance operational efficiency, reduce costs, and improve customer experience.
UiPath offers several powerful tools to support process discovery and continuous improvement. These tools include UiPath Process Mining, Task Mining, Automation Hub, and Insights. These tools enable organizations to gain a deep understanding of their processes and identify opportunities for automation. This article will explore how these tools together can support process discovery and continuous improvement.
2. Benefits of process Discovery and Continuous Improvement
The benefits of process discovery and continuous improvement are numerous and include some of the following:
Process discovery helps identify inefficiencies and bottlenecks that can be eliminated or automated. However, sometimes it requires optimizing the processes step by step. Process discovery plays a crucial role in these scenarios to continuously identify areas of improvement.
Better Customer Satisfaction
Streamlining business processes through standardization or automation improves the overall quality of the service.
Almost all industries have regulatory compliance checks that take place regularly. Audits are very time-consuming and manual tasks that require checking all process variations. Continuous discovery enables organizations to discover and address non-compliant variations and issues effectively.
Greater Agility & Scalability
One of the advantages of RPA is the scalability of the solutions. However, scaling and expanding the scope of RPA projects requires a better understanding of processes. The better the understanding, the more accurate the decisions are on how the company wants to expand RPA and optimization initiatives.
Incorporating continuous improvement as a core element of RPA initiatives can ensure that organizations derive long-term value from their automation efforts.
3. Tools for Continuous Improvement
There are many tools available for process discovery and continuous improvement. However, UiPath Process Mining, Task Mining, Automation Hub, and Insights are powerful tools that work together to provide a comprehensive solution for process discovery and continuous improvement.
3.1 Overview of Each Tool
UiPath Automation Hub
RPA initiatives can be driven by the Center of Excellence (CoE). However, COE alone cannot identify all hidden improvement opportunities. Empowering employees to participate in automation initiatives helps organizations identify areas of improvement that are not visible. The Automation Hub provides a central repository for all automation ideas, making it easy to analyze, collaborate, prioritize, progress tracking, and measure the impact of automation efforts. Further, Automation Hub also provides a repository to maintain all reusable components. A reusable component repository helps developers access previously developed components to speed up ongoing RPA developments.
In addition, Task Capture is also integrated with Automation Hub enabling business users to record their processes. These recordings seamlessly generate the Process Definition Document (PDD) for further reference and refining by business analysts.
UiPath Task Mining
Task Mining is more like an advanced AI-powered version of Task Capture. Task Capture lets users record the actions on the screen and build a flow. However, UiPath Task Mining allows capturing user behavior and activities, providing valuable insights into how work is being done. The recordings captured through Task Mining are analyzed using machine learning models. The recordings done on user machines help mine the known and the unknown. Different users have different ways of performing the same task. Task Mining supports recording all of these variations and merging them into one comprehensive view of the overall process. In addition, the insights generated help visualize collected information and identify unknown task variations, patterns, intents, and bottlenecks.
Tasks captured through Task Capture and Task Mining are the front-end activities performed by users.
The clear understanding given by Task Mining about the process steps and applications used helps identify areas for standardization and automation.
UiPath Process Mining
Task Mining focuses on how users interact with the front end of applications. Process Mining focuses on the digital footprints left behind by applications. It converts digital footprints into event logs and creates process graphs that let you understand all the details of the process. Some of the details derived from the graphs include time taken on each step and variations in process flows. In addition, the event logs also reveal the process deviations, exceptions, bottlenecks, workarounds, and workflow inefficiencies in detail. This information can be used to understand hidden process improvement opportunities to standardize and automate. UiPath Process Mining is also linked with Automation Hub enabling users to convert the analysis into action. Process Mining does not stop after one analysis. UiPath Process Mining can continuously monitor for Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to help identify other areas of improvement.
UiPath Insights is an RPA analytics tool that enables organizations to track, measure, and manage the performance of the automation workforce. Automation solutions are built to improve process efficiency and reduce the manual involvement of the users. However, it is still worth continuously monitoring the performance and finding areas of improvement in automation workflows. The pre-built and customizable dashboards could generate insights on robot utilization, success rates, runtime errors, Return on Investment (ROI), time and money saved, and more. The management can use these insights to decide and prioritize improvement initiatives to get the best out of automation solutions.
3.2 How the Tools Can be Used in Combination to Identify Areas for Improvement
Each tool discussed earlier has its strengths in different areas. However, combining the capabilities provides a more comprehensive approach to process discovery and continuous improvement. An organization can use UiPath Process Mining to identify processes with inefficiencies and bottlenecks by analyzing the digital footprints. UiPath Task Mining takes this further by capturing employee actions on tasks identified to locate hidden improvement opportunities. These insights can then be submitted to Automation Hub to evaluate the feasibility and prioritize based on their impact, ease of implementation, and other business requirements. In addition, Automation Hub can involve many business users to get their automation ideas. These tools can also reassess the identified opportunities for further enhancements as the organization improves them. Once the organization implements automation solutions, UiPath Insights comes into the picture. UiPath Insights can analyze the efficiency and savings of RPA processes and further suggest ways to improve automated solutions.
Moreover, combining these tools enables continuous improvements of processes and automation solutions by providing a feedback loop. The feedback loop highlights areas of improvement for the COE team to take action for improvement. The action required could be on the technical or business front. Technical users could find better ways to improve automation solutions based on the analysis. In parallel, business users can use the same information to suggest and work on enhancing the overall process.
The following diagram illustrates the collaboration of these tools.
As shown in the diagram, the Process Discovery tools generally provide information on processes. In addition, these tools also interconnect easily between them to generate insights on processes for continuous improvement.
4. Process Discovery Best Practices
The state-of-the-art technologies available today enable us to automate many processes. However, it is essential to understand that automating every process is not the best solution for improvement. It is important to select the processes to automate carefully. It is recommended to automate processes that are rule-based, time-consuming, error-prone, high volume, and highly manual. Identifying such processes and optimizing them is crucial before applying automation. Every process should be analyzed and evaluated thoroughly to identify optimization steps and decide how to automate them. Some process improvements require process standardization through methods like Lean. It helps organizations improve the robustness and stability of business processes. As a part of continuous improvement, the organization can reevaluate processes that got standardized for further improvement and automation. The management and the CoE team should identify clear goals, objectives, and priorities for these improvements.
Decisions on what and how processes must be optimized and automated require accurate and detailed insights. It is essential to decide which tools and methods can be used to gather the requirements based on different scenarios. The same applies to the continuous improvement of processes. Process Mining is a tool that can be used when you need to identify processes for optimization and automation. However, the detailed requirement-gathering methods could be different if the organization already has a selected process for analysis. It is essential to align the use of tools depending on the business requirements and the improvement goals to get the best out of them.
Lastly, it is always a best practice to empower every employee to join the continuous improvement initiative. This should also include citizen developers, who participate not just in discovery but also in process developments. Organizations can organize training and hands-on sessions to train business users. The training could focus on performing proper discovery sessions, their involvement, and key deliverables. In addition, the organization could conduct citizen development programs to provide hands-on training on building automation solutions. Involving users continuously, getting feedback on previous revisions, brainstorming, and applying new enhancements are key factors for continuous improvements.
Continuous improvement is an essential aspect of today's business world. There are many tools and approaches to performing effective process discovery and monitoring. UiPath Process Discovery tools can cover all aspects, from identifying processes and monitoring RPA processes for improvement. The use of these tools may depend on the business requirements. However, combining those provides a wide range of capabilities to progress with enhancements effectively.