Challenging the Norm:  Can You Use Intelligent Automation (IA) for Processes That Don’t Exist?


Automation first mindset

Today it seems that every company is undergoing a transformation whether strategically planned or forced by the current global pandemic.  To ensure they do not build new manual process debt, companies need to operate with an “automation first” mindset and ask, “if we need to develop a new process, can we automate it from the start?”  While not the prevailing thought in the industry, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can successfully automate processes that currently do noexist as well as those that do exist.  The automation of a process that does not yet exist is called "De Novo RPA." 


Yes, Experience with the Manual Process Is Beneficial-1

There are benefits when the process already exists, and staff have experience with its operational success and challenges.  However, their absence should not end the conversation of potential automation.  These benefits can include:  

  • The process owner or subject matter experts (SMEs) will know from experience in detail what works and what does not in an existing process. 

  • SMEs are also better able to identify up front the occasional exceptions that need to be addressed in automation design, development and testing.  

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Begin Again or Begin Anew

De Novo” is the Latin word for “new” or “in the beginning,” which is why it works for the automation of a new process.  Forward thinking companies will recognize that De Novo RPA is a means to protect the enterprise from running counter to their efficiency mandates.  An effective De Novo RPA implementation will benefit from the following:  

  • Maintain the efficiency mandate:  Avoid the creatioof new manual processes and addition of required associated overhead (i.e. retraining of existing staff, new hiring, new infrastructure, etc.) that will need to be automated/eliminated in the future. 

  • SMEs will still exist:  Contribution on the ideal design will come from corporate staff who will own the process after its createdwho will be impacted by the new process as well as owners of similar processes and systems. 

  • Creativity will be enhanced:  Without an existing process flow to influence the future design, the business analyst and SME are free to craft the solution based on how the automated process should work. 

  • Agile-like project methodology is ideal:  Teams would implement a minimal viable product first with incremental improvements and changes based on the growing experience of running the automation


Don’t Automate Tomorrow What You Can Automate Today

Corporate decision-makers typically do not think to include new processes when prioritizing their candidates for RPA solutions.  However, this mindset leads to the creation of new manual, repetitive processes that will end up as their automation candidates in the future.  With an “automation first” mindset and the introduction of De Novo RPA, companies can break the traditional, but inefficient cycle of creating, identifying and then automating a manual process.  Automating new processes immediately will send a strong message to employees about their commitment to corporate efficiency and automation programs today and in the future.