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Blog · 25 Feb 2021

How to optimise your business processes ready for RPA

Intelligent process mining reveals what’s happening underneath processes, identifying where Robot Process Automation (RPA) and process changes can boost efficiency.

Dr Paul Taylor
Lead researcher

As an organisation evolves, the way it operates changes over time, and the business processes that were mapped out to help everyone work efficiently stop showing the full picture of what’s going on.

With a quick look at the data, they’ll soon find out that what’s happening underneath the processes is not necessarily what was designed, so making the best decisions becomes much harder. 

Data reveals the business reality

The reasons for this mismatch between process design and reality can be as individual as your organisation, but there are a few that come up a lot. Often a company will update one of their systems, but won’t update their processes at the same time. Or the people operating the systems are using workarounds that bypass parts of the processes.

People are ingenious, and if they can come up with an easier or faster way to do a job, they will, often not realising the knock-on effects of what they’re doing. For example, what if an employee discovered they could still submit an order, even though they’d missed out some data? As far as they were concerned, it saved them some time, but what if it also meant that the engineer going out to install the product would find vital information missing when they got there, causing a delay that upsets the customer? Too many businesses run into this law of unintended consequences, where someone who doesn’t fully understand the process makes what they think is a helpful change that ends up causing a drop in effectiveness.

Often, organisations manage processes by metrics, only using high-level KPIs as targets. Although this gives senior management valuable performance information, it can create a misleading picture, so the business makes decisions based on false data. Remember, people are creative and will look for workarounds that mean they meet the targets in a way that makes their life as easy as possible. For example, I’ve seen over-running problems magically get solved within target by resetting the clock.  

Look through the intelligent process mining lens

Intelligent process mining looks behind processes to give an organisation more information about how it’s operating, so it can operate better. It’s a different way to look at data, analysing workflow data from end-to-end, across systems, departments or enterprises. It works alongside standard dashboarding and statistical techniques instead of replacing them.

Insight into so many areas of your business

Intelligent process mining can validate process design, making sure it covers every possibility so that employees can do everything they need to. No one wants a ‘computer says no’ situation because processes are missing. Intelligent process mining will pick up on the problems that often get escalated and passed around, identifying where changes are needed. For example, it can check changes made over a release weekend, comparing how processes are performing on the Friday with how they’re doing on the Monday. And, once processes are running smoothly, it can help the business spot further ways to improve across the process lifecycle, looking at what people are comfortable doing and what tasks might need more training or support.

How we deliver intelligent process mining

At BT, our process mining software, Aperture, is system-agnostic and can work with any format of workflow data (as long as some form of job ID, task name and time stamp is available) to provide a rich picture of how processes are really running. It’s already revealed the real story behind processes in industries as varied as banking, logistics, energy supply and mining — and we used it ourselves to review and learn lessons from wi-fi usage during London 2012 in the Olympic Park. It’s ready to help your business identify unnecessary process loops and bottlenecks so that you can consolidate, simplify and optimise your processes. You can find out more about use cases in this article.

Getting the most from robot process automation

Aperture is designed to help businesses prepare for robot process automation. It’s a reliable way to identify the simple processes that are suitable for RPA and will be worth the investment. It makes sure businesses only put money behind automating the processes that will significantly increase efficiency. It could be the difference between saving one interaction a week with RPA, or one a second.

Aperture can take a part of a business process and use it to predict what will happen next so the organisation can put proactive RPA interventions in place. It can also predict what events in the customer journey will need escalation by drawing on all the knowledge it collects about processes, making it easy to proactively escalate an issue before the customer thinks to complain. For example, RPA could step in and resend equipment that a process shows hasn’t been sent to the customer, before the customer even realises anything has gone wrong.

If you’d like to find out more about how Aperture can help you understand your data, your processes and your business, please reach out to your account manager. We’re here to help.

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