In this article we will look at what it takes to plan and think like a robot. Being able to articulate how a Robot Process Automation should work, document a process and execute on a sound implementation plan, requires us to think, most times, not like a human.
Thinking like a robot
People are wonderfully complex and talented things, but they are not as good at documenting their processes as they think. At the same time we should also acknowledge and amaze at how efficient most of are at doing our jobs. Working with clients and RPA we often find people who would say – well I just look at the sheet and I know it is X, Y or Z. At my initial glance my reaction is wow……
The Subject Matter Expert has been repetitively looking at this sheet and others like it, ever day, for years…. and they just know by instinct. Unfortunately robots are not instinctual and they need to be written in very strict methodical steps which make the most sense.
If I ask you how do you open an excel file on your computer, five different people would give five different answers.
- My dad clicks on the windows icon, scrolls down to the office folder, opens the folder and then clicks on the excel icon and opens Excel
- My Kid Clicks Windows key, waits for the search box, Hits E, Hits C Hits, C and because he is presented with Excel as the main option hits Enter and opens Excel.
A robot on the other hand would like to know exactly where Excel lives within the operating system and just opens it directly. Robots need predictability and both methods of my dad and kid are dependent on outside variables not changing.
For example if someone installed a program called Excalibur on my kids computer it might come up alphabetically before Excel and if a windows upgrade moved my dad’s icon he would surely have conniptions and declare someone has stolen Excel.
Either way there is an element of chance in the process and the process is therefore not as predictable and repeatable as we would like.
Robot Process Automation is intrinsically something which has to be rules based and devoid of chance or possibility.
Getting people to consider their processes as being “chance based” or “less than optimal” is something to get used to. It’s called consulting.