The Importance of Enhancements to Production Automation
What do you think of when you hear “Enhancement?”
Most people think of enhancing a picture or the movie “Super Troopers” (like me) but in the world of RPA, this is different. When working with automation in production, an enhancement can be categorized in multiple ways. For simplicity we use two:
- Business Request
Think of your production automation as a car. To keep the car functioning at peak capacity it’s important to bring it to the garage, change its oil, check the engine, change the tires, etc. Failure to do so will result in decreased performance over time.
You can also take two approaches- take the car in proactively to add new parts and features or bring the car in after an accident. One is more proactive than the other. Break fixes and business requests work in the same way.
Enhancement 1: Break-fix or Bug-fix
A break-fix enhancement to your automation should be implemented when a bot no longer works as expected and a code change is required to get it back in production. Others may refer to this as a “bug fix” and this is also correct terminology. This can happen for a few reasons:
- An application the bot interacts with has changed.
- The input format has changed.
- Adding or removing of activities to make the bot function.
Enhancement 2: Business Request
A business request enhancement to your automation is one that is either identified by your RPA support team or proactively requested by business users or stakeholders of the automation. This typically involves adding functionality, increasing the scope, or changing the business rules to their automation.
It is important to understand the benefits that stakeholders receive from these automations. Coordination with them is key to ensuring maximum sustainability and improvement, so that value can always be achieved. A few examples of this are:
- Adding AI or Document Understanding capabilities
- Increasing the transaction variations- ex. (processing different types of invoices or vendors)
- Regulations have changed- requiring a change in the business process.
Here in Accelirate’s Robotic Operations Centers, we have performed hundreds of enhancements to our clients’ Automation- both break fixes and business requests. Below are two successful implementations that have had an enormous impact on our client’s process:
Factory Invoices – PDFs Activities
The purpose of the Factory Invoices automated process is to retrieve invoices from vendor websites, extract data from the PDFs, and create the invoice in the client’s workflow management system, Coupa.
Automation is comprised of two processes:
The enhanced process consists of the following steps:
To consolidate the work plan for this project, it was necessary to evaluate the time/effort required to implement this improvement in each manufacturing. Once this was calculated, the deliverables were divided into sprints for the purpose of
- Better tracking
- Ensuring the quality of the deliverables
- Providing early and progressive wins to the business.
The Enhancement work of the 12 manufacturers was divided into 6 Sprints (2 Manufacturers were delivered in each Sprints) and for each Sprints the following phases were contemplated: Development, Unit and Functional testing, Code Review, Regression testing, Bug Fixes, Code Review, and Production deployment.
- Navigate to the manufacturer’s website for every store in the scope
- Capture the population of new Parts invoices
- Capture the population of new Miscellaneous invoices
- Download a PDF copy of each invoice in a shared folder
- Extract data from invoices
- Add to queue
This process was improved by standardizing the download and data extraction from the pdfs of each store in order to:
- Eliminate download time errors
- Decrease download times
- Ensure that the information reaches the performer in the correct format to avoid future reprocessing
The team behind this improvement changed the way invoices were downloaded and processed from 12 manufacturers by implementing retry mechanisms for the following manufacturers: BMW, HONDA, LANDROVER, PORSCHE, MERCEDES, JAGUAR, VOLVO, GM, TOYOTA, AUDI, NISSAN, and VOLKSWAGEN.
Sprint 1 – BMW & HONDA
Sprint 2 – LANDROVER & PORSCHE
Sprint 3 – MERCEDES & JAGUAR
Sprint 4 – VOLVO & GM
Sprint 5 – TOYOTA & AUDI
Sprint 6 – NISSAN & VOLKSWAGEN
The first deliverable was released into production on March 20th and since then we have seen a significant reduction in process execution errors, as shown below:
The implementation of this project has achieved:
- A reduction in errors
- Standardization of the process
- Updated code to ensure best practices
- Decreased download times
- Increase the accuracy of information flowing to the performer for reduced reprocessing