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RPA FAQs and some TLAs

What does RPA stand for and what does it do?

Robotic Process Automation. This is low or no-code software that automates business processes by mimicking a human’s clicks and keystrokes on a computer screen.

RPA works for almost any monotonous task your teams do on their computers, for example, it can copy and paste data from one application to another.

What is a PDD and an SDD?

PDD stands for Process Definition Document, this is the most important document in RPA because it is used by the business analyst to transfer the business’s problem into a technical solution that the RPA developer can understand

The developer uses the PDD to create the SDD (solution design document), which is a more technical document which provides guidance to the architecture of the bot

What is an L4 keystroke document?

L4 stands for Level 4, which comes from Six Sigma is arguably the lowest most detailed process map, whereas L0 would be a very high-level map of the process

In RPA a level 4 map shows the clicks and keystrokes a user would make to perform a task or process, each step in this map would be numbered and would be accompanied with a keystroke document which would further describe each step and provide a screenshot highlighting the button clicked or text box typed into

What is a POC?

POC stands for Proof of Concept, where a business would test the capability of a new tool or software to see if it worked in the way they want to use it. However, businesses generally prefer to call this POV or Proof of value so that they can measure how much value the new tool provides at a small scale

A POC/POV is generally done before a large scale purchase is made, as is used to get buy-in from stakeholders

What is a CoE?

CoE stands for Centre of Excellence (similar to Operational Excellence), this team or function is responsible for sustaining high quality and consistency in the delivery of a new capability.

This is done by having central place which provides tools, techniques, templates, training and frameworks to ensure that all across the business everyone is implementing and assessing RPA in the same way for example

What is an Automation Catalogue?

This is a list of all the manual processes in an organisation that has gone through an assessment to see how suitable it is for RPA and what expected benefit can be gained from this using RPA

Analysts may want to put another layer of assessment to see what other benefits can be gained using other methods aside from RPA, e.g. outsourcing, Lean process re-engineering, intelligent automation or AI

What is an EAR?

EAR stands for Enterprise automation roadmap. Once the list of processes in the automation catalogue has been thoroughly assessed, they can be prioritised and put into waves, and presented on a roadmap to show how the full RPA rollout will be accomplished, and when

What is Lean Six Sigma?

This is a combination of Lean thinking (making things efficient), and Six Sigma (making things well/high quality).

Understandable Lean Six Sigma is a powerful combination with RPA and intelligent automation as automating a lean process can provide much higher ROIs as you get “more bang for your buck”

Some other acronyms from the intelligent automation world

AEIO YOU: A method for successfully implementing intelligent automation into an organisation

IA: Intelligent Automation

RPA: robotic process automation

FTE: Full-time employee

AI: Artificial intelligence

GUI: Graphical User Interface

SME: subject matter expert

PDD: Process Definition Document

SDD: Solution Design Document

SLA: Service Level Agreements

API: Application Programming Interface

ICR: intelligent character recognition

COE: Centre of Excellence

CBA: Cost benefits Analysis

RCA: Root cause Analysis

A case: a unit of work that flows through a process, e.g. an individual customer request

PMO: Project/programme management office/officer

UAT: User Acceptance Testing

POC: Proof of Concept

POV: Proof of Value

EAR: Enterprise Automation Roadmap

MPV: Maximum Potential Value

TPV: Target Potential Value

AHT: Average handling time

SIPOC: Supply, Input, Process, Output, Customer

COO: Chief operations officer

TT: Takt time

GDPR: (General Data Protection Regulation)

CASS: (Protection of Client Assets and Money)

ML: machine learning

OCR: Optical character recognition

BPO: Business process outsourcing

BPM: Business process management (or Mapping)

VM: Virtual Machine

VDI: Virtual desktop interface

You can learn more about implementing RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and intelligent automation at Your virtual consultant

You can read about these tools used in the AEIO YOU method in their new book Business @ the Speed of Bots, How to implement RPA that scales


The 36 steps the AEIO YOU method

The underlying approach of the AEIO YOU method is to ensure you’re applying Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and intelligent automation to lean (aka streamlined and optimized) business processes. Using lean thinking you can achieve a much higher ROI from your new technology than if you were to have just automated bad processes.

Remember the old adage, ‘GIGO’ (Garbage in, garbage out)

Follow these steps to bring your RPA Centre of Excellence (CoE) team to a maturity level to proudly call it an Automation Factory. Then start again from step 1, but this time with a newer technology

Here are our 36 steps of the AEIO YOU method:


1. Understand the Technology

2. Know the myths, Challenges and the Benefits

2b. Know the common mistakes and pitfalls

3. Understand the market

4. Choose the right solution provider

5. Be an evangelist

6. Run a Pilot (POV rather than POC)

7. Start building your Centre of Excellence


8. Bring in the Experts

9. Involve staff so they welcome the change

10. Keep hold of your most valuable assets

11. Upskill to build capabilities inhouse


12. Zoom out. Create an Enterprise Automation Roadmap

13. Zoom in: Define and Measure the problem

14. Filter on what’s suitable

15. Focus on the top 20% (80:20 rule)

16. Build a complexity map: Cost vs Benefits vs Financial savings

17. Prioritise: Go for some quick wins first

18. Zoom in further: Business Analysis 101 (Data and requirements gathering)

19. Root cause analysis


20. Solution design

21. Lean thinking

22. Business Case: detailed cost-benefits analysis

23. Define the process

24. Design the solution

25. Build the solution using best practices

26. Prepare the data for testing

27. UAT

28. Hand over to support team

29. Launch

30. Reflect

31. Repeat and scale


32. Realise the benefits


33. Maintain the benefits

34. Manage the changes


35. Circle back for continuous improvement

36. Discover newer technologies

You can learn more about implementing RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and intelligent automation at Your virtual consultant

You can read about Lean IA’s trademarked AEIO YOU method in their new book Business @ the Speed of Bots, How to implement RPA that scales


5 Levels of CoE maturity: How mature is yours?

There are several levels of maturity that I’ve seen. Which one are you?

Level 0 (Explore stage):

You’ve just started looking into RPA and automation, you’ve not deployed anything. You’ve seen a few demos but have not yet decided which vendor(s) to use.

Level 1 (Experiment stage):

Your team have self-built automation robots using a free license to understand how the technology works and/or you’ve engaged with preferred vendors who may have given you some licenses for free. No real structured approach yet for assessing or implementing opportunities.

Alternatively, if you have outsourced your CoE completely then your maturity would also be Level 1 as you have not yet developed any in-house capabilities.

Level 2 (Pilot stage):

You’ve hired a hybrid RPA developer who also does the business analysis work to find opportunities to automate, and you’ve deployed a POC (proof of concept). Some RPA documentation and assessment tools exist, and you have a logical approach to assessing opportunities.

Level 3 (Team formation stage):

You have a few expert team members doing some of the roles that make up a CoE team but not a complete structure; a solutions architect, developers, support engineers, RPA analysts, PMs and perhaps a Lean Analyst. You have documented processes, a framework and a toolkit to generate consistent automation solutions.

Level 4 (RPA factory):

A polished team of experienced professionals who have delivered automation in several environments, as well as automation champions throughout the organization as advocates. A steady pipeline and a refined framework to churn out automated solutions at a consistent quality and speed. A complete toolkit with controls and reporting tools.

Level 5 (CoE as a Service):

Experienced team able to provide their services to internal and external clients. Clear terms of service, SLAs and governance processes.

If you have a large organization, you have probably set up several satellite RPA teams that report to you.

There are 2 main types of CoEs. Centralized or Federated, however, the maturity of your CoE team and the geographical location of operations teams may determine which structure is right for you.


This is where you generally should start. Have one team that manages all RPA opportunities happening throughout the organization. This is good for companies where the CoE sits together and all staff are based in the same location, or teams and business units can be easily reached.


This is where you have resources embedded in different business units however they still feed into and draw from a central team for training, tools, knowledge management and governance

Whatever you do, ensure that you don’t have different teams running RPA projects in different ways, learning different lessons and using different RPA vendors – this will only lead in disaster

You can learn more about implementing RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and intelligent automation at The Lean Intelligent Automation consultant

You can read about Lean IA’s trademarked AEIO YOU method in their new book Business @ the Speed of Bots, Succeeding In The New Age Of Digital Transformation


3 Ways Intelligent Automation Can Help Grow Your Business

AI and robots are already being used to great advantage by businesses no bigger than yours.

You can stop trying to imagine the future of A.I. because, believe it or not, the future is here. While robots aren’t yet walking our dogs or doing our grocery shopping, A.I. certainly is a growing presence in the business world. The growth in this industry is astounding.

In fact, most of the top 100 artificial intelligence startups are based in the US. This means that the trends for intelligent automation are becoming increasingly visible. But what is intelligent automation?

It is specially designed software that detects products or objects in images, pulls data from documents or manipulates information. These software robots have been trained to complete tasks that have a “human” quality. They can adapt and learn the more they work.

Now that you know what it is, let’s talk about three ways intelligent automation can help your business:

1. Increase productivity

Imagine a 25-percent increase in staff productivity. That’s what a restaurant in labor-short Singapore expected when they implemented their new “flying waiters.” These drones are designed to deliver plates to diners while the employees perform other tasks.

This is just one example of the opportunities to increase your employees’ productivity using RPA, or robotic process automation. Using these software robots, your basic business computing can be done efficiently, freeing up your employees for the non-repetitive and more creative tasks.

While you are imagining the many ways you can increase your business’s productivity, don’t forget about the common human errors you can avoid.

Related: AI Is Taking the Art Out of Sales

2. Reduce common human errors

As more businesses turn to automation in an effort to relieve their human workers of repetitive tasks, they are also avoiding many common human errors, making these businesses much more efficient.

Software robots can learn and adapt far more efficiently than most human workers. In chatbot programs, for example, this feature is especially helpful for standard customer service needs.

The chatbots continuously gather information as they are used, and they use that information to help your customers.

With the increasing availability of intelligent automation, what return can you expect to see on your investment?

3. Improve your ROI

Now that you have implemented software robots for tasks that you no longer need employees to do, imagine the possibilities for the return on your investment.

You hire fewer employees and pay less in salaries, wages, training, and benefits.You invest in the automated software and equipment and outsource your maintenance.

With increased productivity and reduced human errors, your average costs for the same work will be much less, which can exponentially increase your return. What business owner wouldn’t want that?

Read the source article on Entrepreneur


Why AI means the end of ‘pure’ RPA

Interview with Process Excellence Network

PEX Network:

What is your working definition of ‘intelligent automation’?

Antony Walker:

RPA is dumb computer software doing manual tasks. Intelligent automation is combining things like RPA or BPM tools with some sort of artificial intelligence, so that it doesn’t just move data through a process, but it can interpret and understand data. Unstructured data is where RPA falls short, whereas AI can fill this gap. And 80 to 90 per cent of processes have unstructured data

PEX Network:

What problems can intelligent automation be brought in to fix?

Antony Walker:

RPA, AI and intelligent automation is seen in the media as something that could replace people as many businesses have been focusing on FTE savings, however it should be used to augment what people do; taking the tedious boring tasks so that people can focus on more intellectual, creative parts of their life. And it allows businesses and their staff to discover new revenue streams that were once unviable to reach, so that their business can in fact expand.

PEX Network:

What sort of organizations are looking into RPA and intelligent automation, and why are they doing it now?

Antony Walker:

Early adopters of this technology have been finance, insurance, utilities, healthcare and law firms. The manufacturing industry have used physical automation for decades and are also looking at automation on the software side as well. The biggest benefit are for industries that have a lot of paperwork and repetitive tasks, so you can imagine areas like legal, tax and accounting departments having a big appetite for this. Processes that are repetitive and logic-based can be automated, so this is why RPA has benefited them greatly.

Over the next year, there’s going to be a lot more focus on AI. In 18 months to two years, I don’t see there being any pure RPA initiatives, everything is going to have that intelligence built in. This is because IA is really starting to mature now.

PEX Network:

That is quite a statement. What do you think is driving all this?

Antony Walker:

There have been a lot of advancements in AI. There are a lot of use cases and quick wins for teams to implement AI and benefit from it straight away. And as mentioned previously only 10 to 20 per cent of processes use structured data. Many business leaders and analysts I’ve spoken to have become frustrated in their previous pure-RPA projects that weren’t providing the ROIs they had expected. That’s why lean IA hits this problem twice. Lean means you use fewer ‘robots’ to get more savings by optimising your processes first, and IA means you can target more processes and move away from just pure-RPA.

PEX Network:

How will these changes affect the big legacy banks and financial institutions?

Antony Walker:

Two big stories that have been in the finance technology world for a while now are robo-advisors and cryptocurrency. Independent financial advisors will start to feel squeezed out. They are being challenged by these AI capabilities advising people on how to best invest their money, so IFAs are having to adapt and focus more heavily on the human, customer relationship side. Then we have cryptocurrency which threatens to decentralize the monetary system.

One thing I have seen in the utilities industry are start-up companies in the energy sector that have popped up with very low overheads due to having minimal infrastructure, and are able to greatly undercut and move faster than the big corporations. This is definitely something legacy banks may fear happening to them.

Any industry that has a lot of paperwork, manual processes, large workforces and unnecessarily complicated or dated processes in their back office operations will feel the pinch as they start haemorrhaging money and customers. In asset management the baby boomers still prefer using paper forms, I’ve been working on a project where we used intelligent cognitive-recognition software to scan information from a paper form and then put this directly into the database, which saved staff having to read the document and manually typing the information into the database manually a thousand times. Do note that we are now at a time where computers can read handwriting more accurately than humans.

These are just a few of the things behind the scenes that AI and intelligent automation are having an impact on.

PEX Network:

If this technology really is maturing and becoming more ubiquitous, what’s going to be the big difference that we’ll notice?

Antony Walker:

How we interact with the banks and insurance will be a big one. Natural Language Processing is going to advance a lot more, and is where I am personally starting to focus. Website chat bots will become a lot smoother and smarter; they will understand what we’re after, and understand what our profile looks like; they have our data, so they will be able to really customize what their recommendations are to our specific needs.

In insurance situations like a car accident when we use our phones to make a claim, they will be able to read and respond to our moods, understand the images in photos we send them, know where we are and remember our history to tailor their advice

In summary, customization, speed and accuracy of service through more convenient avenues are how we’ll notice these technology advancements over the next few years.

Read the book, Business at the speed of bots