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Building Your Intelligent Automation Project Pipeline


Many organizations have a robust process for prioritizing development opportunities, with excellent project management tools.  Some also have a disciplined approach to measuring the cost/benefit impact with post-project reviews to keep everyone honest.  For Intelligent Automation projects, and specifically Robotic Process Automation (RPA), where the go/no go threshold is significantly lower due to low implementation costs and short project timelines, how do you develop your list of project candidates?  What does your project pipeline look like in terms of potential impact, and what RPA idea collection approach yields the largest number of feasible automation projects?

iPollingTM Results Review

Recently, Peeriosity’s iPollingTM was used by a member company’s Process Improvement Lead to get insights to these issues.  Using iPollingTM, it was possible for the poll author to create a poll from their regional Shared Services center located in Eastern Europe and quickly get insights from a larger number of peers from around the world.  The following are background comments that were provided when the poll was created: 

“Many companies have already gone through their RPA proof of concept phase and have started creating bots on their own or using outsourcing companies. At the very beginning of the RPA journey, without deep knowledge, many processes seem to be worth automating, but, with experience, that may change. Looking for good project candidates with significant time savings and quality improvements can often become a challenge. I would like to know how other companies are looking for automation ideas.”

The first question in this poll asked about the quality of the RPA pipeline.  While the good news is that none of the respondents are struggling to find really good automation ideas, only 21% indicate that they have identified a large number of viable automation ideas that can have a favorable impact on operations, with 73% reporting that they have identified some impactful automation ideas, and also a lot of little ones which if implemented will have less of an impact.  Here are the details:

iPolling: intelligent automation project pipeline- description of robotic process automation

When considering the collection approach that yields the largest number of significant automation projects, 53% indicated that the best source was to collect ideas directly from process owners performing tasks, with 13% favoring a top-down approach by collecting ideas from leaders and managers.  Another 16% see the greatest source of viable projects to be from process improvement initiatives, and the remaining 18% get ideas from a range of approaches, making it difficult to point to one as the most impactful.

iPolling: largest number of significant automation feasible projects

Here are several of the additional comments from members:

  • RPA is transforming the Payroll functions and is the future now!
  • We have a few good ones, but most ideas are smaller and less impactful.
  • Since we are structured by function, we tend to identify RPA opportunities in pockets.
  • We started collecting ideas in SharePoint without educating the audience on the whole RPA scope. I believe this brought out not very impactful ideas. On the other hand, this helped us to consolidate the RPA concept, understand drawbacks, and improve our deployment process, without impacting any critical process.
  • As far as who/what drives the biggest contributions, we have found this to be a combination of things from leaders/process owners, to CI initiatives, to proactive roadshows providing an overview/education of what RPA is.
  • We are just implementing RPA for our pilot selections and have started to pull together an additional list of potential projects for the future. We already had a process improvement list we were working with that is a combination of management and employee requests. We believe that after we get some of the pilot items in production this will spawn additional ideas of where automation can really make a difference for the operational teams.
  • We have significant improvements with RPA in Payroll, Vendor Onboarding, and AP processes. We had some great input from the analysts overseeing the processes, as well as management. A joint effort across the board.
  • We have a huge number of little ideas which were raised directly by process owners (who often do not have visibility on end-to-end process flow and variations). We are working towards the identification of big automation opportunities.
  • Is hard to say which approach brings the largest number of feasible and beneficial automation projects, but we see that ideas that come from leaders/managers looking after entire departments seem to be more significant (since they have better visibility to the entire end-to-end process).
  • We receive a lot of little ideas from the business. Our automation team has partnered with our CI team to review a function and specific end-to-end processes. This allows us to identify more impactful ideas that can be re-engineered and then automated.
  • We look at this from the outside-in approach. We get the actual owners of the process who know it best to talk through the process and the RPA team determines if this becomes a feasible process to put an RPA in place. You do have to take into account the cost-effectiveness and the efficiency gains when doing the ROI, which we’ve done on the processes that we’ve identified to be optimal to put RPA behind it.

Closing Summary

With an initial investment to get started that is low compared with many other technology projects, it makes sense to have a large list of possible projects since the threshold required to be feasible is much lower.  Having insight into how leading peers identify their list of possible ideas, combined with their assessment of the expected impact of projects that are on the list, is an excellent way to check in and evaluate your internal processes.

How would you describe the quality and potential impact of your RPA pipeline?  Which approach yields the greatest number of viable automation ideas that can have a significant impact on operations?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?


“iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility of all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPolling.

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