Developing an

Automation Roadmap


Developing an automation roadmap essentially involves 2 steps - Process Identification & Process Prioritization. In order to prioritise processes, it is essential to determine the feasibility, complexity, effort and cost of automating each process (or set of processes), working out the expected savings, and then developing a business case (ROI model).

This process in itself can be costly and time-consuming because:

  • Companies have complex structures and there are a very large number of candidate processes to sift through.
  • Developing the business case requires a lot of data including FTE count and estimated reduction post-automation which can be difficult to establish in a precise manner.

Acronotics had developed a sensible and practical approach to carry out this analysis quickly and efficiently. It involves the following steps:

Process Prioritization Model

Process Discovery Workshops

The first step in getting an automation program off the ground is to identify processes that are possible candidates for automation. Acronotics’ approach is to conduct a series of quick workshops with the process owners for the business areas that are being considered for automation. These workshops have the following characteristics:

  • The Acronotics Business Analysts are armed with a repository of well-known use cases in each functional area, and they drive the discovery process towards these use cases in order to quickly come up with a practical roadmap.
  • A pilot of 5-6 processes is identified which can be implemented quickly with a small investment in order to prove to management that the solution works.
  • Acronotics’ templates for Feasibility, Complexity & Effort Analysis focus on the minimal data that is necessary to develop the plan, instead of getting into a long-drawn out theoretical analysis. We adopt a pragmatic, pareto-optimal approach to develop the business case for automation.

Use Case Repository

Each vertical (and each company) has many unique processes that are specific to that industry/ company, and automating these processes can deliver substantial productivity benefits. However, while developing an initial automation roadmap, we recommend focusing on common functions such as Finance, HR, IT & so on, because these processes exist across industry, are largely similar, and have been extensively automated already. Candidate processes can be quickly identified from these functional areas (we also have extensive use case repositories for industry-specific processes in banking, insurance, telecom, manufacturing, retail & CPG, transportation & logistics, pharma, utilities etc.).

Process Prioritization Model

Once candidate processes have been identified through the process discovery workshops, the next step is to analyze and prioritize them. This involves assessing the following for each candidate process:

  • Feasibility for automation
  • Complexity to automate
  • Effort & cost to automate
  • Savings from automation
  • Return on Investment (ROI)

Most consulting firms use elaborate models to carry out this analysis, which takes a lot of time and involves a substantial upfront investment just to develop the business case for automation.

Acronotics is able to expedite this process by ensuring that the key data elements for this analysis are gathered during the process discovery workshop itself. Our approach focusses on delivering the following outcomes:

  • Getting the program off the ground as quickly as possible
  • Getting the first set of bots into production fast and with limited investment
  • Minimizing the Cost per Robot (CPR) and Time to Market (TTM) for the overall program
  • Finding the optimal intelligent automation solution for each process combining RPA with Machine Learning & other AI technologies

Feasibility Analysis

Typical approaches to evaluating feasibility focus on what extant RPA software packages can or cannot handle.

RPA Criteria - Shortlising Use Cases

These criteria are quite helpful in identifying quick wins that can be automated using a standard RPA tool. More complex processes with greater business impact get excluded in such analysis, in particular processes that:

  • Involve judgement calls or qualitative decision-making by a human operator
  • Involve scanned documents

Acronotics Intelligent Automation Framework

The Acronotics Intelligent Automation Framework helps organizations design automation solutions for complex processes that RPA alone cannot handle. Feasibility is established not based on what RPA alone can automate, but what a combination of RPA & AI technologies can automate. This approach also enables us to develop a high level blueprint for automating the process right at the onset.

Acronotics Intelligent Automation Framework

Human actions

Complexity Analysis, Effort & Cost Estimation

Once feasibility (and high-level automation approach) have been determined, the next step is to estimate the complexity to automate the selected processes.

  • Acronotics has developed a data-driven model that enables us to estimate the complexity of automating each process.
  • Once the complexity level has been established, the model correlates it to the effort and cost of automation for each process.

Savings & Benefits Assessment

For each process (or a group of related processes), we estimate expected FTE savings by:

  • Establishing the current FTE count that is allocated
  • Determining the % of automation that is possible

For example, if a process has 5 FTEs allocated to it, and it can be 80% automated, the expected FTE saving is 4 FTE (leaving 1 residual FTE to carry out exception processing).

Besides FTE savings that can be more visibly measured, automation can deliver several other benefits with substantial $ savings, but these savings can be harder to quantify. These include:

  • Error reduction (once correctly built, bots don’t make mistakes)
  • Business agility & enhanced CSAT (faster, straight-through-processing)
  • Employee productivity & ESAT improvement (elimination of boring, mundane work)
  • Better regulatory compliance (bot-based reporting, monitoring & analysis)

Since it is not easy to nail down these savings, Acronotics recommends building the ROI model for automation based on hard savings from FTE reduction/ reallocation only. Even with only FTE savings taken into consideration, most well-designed RPA programs deliver a payback period of less than 1 year and a very solid ROI over 3-5 years.

ROI Calculation

To calculate the ROI for an automation program, we need to bring together the following data elements:

  • Current FTE headcount allocated, and the fully loaded cost thereof
  • Residual FTE headcount after the processes have been automated
  • One-time cost of developing the bots (derived from the complexity & effort analysis)
  • Recurring cost of running the bots (license cost plus bot maintenance cost)

Once this information has been assembled, it can be plugged into the Acronotics ROI Model to arrive at the business case.

Summary – Developing an Automation Roadmap

  • Process Discovery Workshops – Leverage Acronotics Use Case Repository to identify candidate processes and capture relevant data for subsequent analysis
  • Apply Acronotics Intelligent Automation Framework to establish feasibility of automating the candidate processes as well as determining a high-level solution approach
  • Estimate the one-time cost of automation by carrying out Complexity Analysis followed by Effort & Cost Estimation
  • Estimate the running cost of automation by sizing the infrastructure (licenses & hardware) and working out the support requirements for the automation solution
  • Estimate the expected FTE savings from the current FTE allocation & expected % of automation
  • Put it all together into the Acronotics ROI Model.