This week I have been recording a series of training videos titled “Lean RPA: Principles and Practice.” Yeah, I know that’s a mouthful so offers of alternative titles are welcome. While preparing the material I realised that I've been practicing lean and six sigma for over 20 years, that was a shock!
At it’s heart lean and six sigma has been a learning approach, continuing to adapt and include new tools and techniques whenever they are discovered. Books such as the Lean StartUp have shown us how lean has moved from its roots in car manufacturing to developing innovation in a world of startups.
Creating efficient (do things right) and effective (do the right things) processes has always been the essence of the lean six sigma business methodology, but it’s so much more than just about process. Lean Six Sigma also provides the techniques to aid building, deploying and operationalising strategy. Lean Transformation is a term used to reference the deployment of lean thinking across an entire organisation.
Automation has been a component of lean thinking since before the approach was even called lean. Automation provides new ways to increase quality, reduce defects, reduce time taken and increase customer satisfaction. Modern robotic process automation is simply the latest technological advance that is being incorporated into the lean practitioners toolkit.
Start, Scale and Sustain with Lean RPA!
It's worth emphasising the word "process" in Robotic Process Automation! Many organisations focus on the technological advances that have provided us with the ability to emulate human interactions, forgetting to visit the processes in any depth, assuming what we do today is good enough. This approach generally leads to automation that is difficult to develop, prone to failure and time consuming to maintain. Lean provides us with the tools and techniques to define, optimise and deliver efficient, flexible and easy to maintain automations.
Techniques demonstrated by the lean startup are a great fit with automation; cross functional teams collaborating on each new iteration and directly testing and measuring the impact on the customer. Constantly challenging yourself to learn how automation can best support your organisation and your customers. These techniques work well because of the interactive nature of the many of the development tools, which provide the opportunity for immediate feedback. Different tools require different types of skills though, finding the right tool for your organisation is the right approach, as opposed to bending your organisation to fit the selected toolset.
Scaling-up means moving beyond the initial pilot opportunities. Lean Thinking can help us again when we reach this phase by providing us with techniques such as lean strategy deployment, good organisational design and clear operating models to deliver an automation strategy.
Finally, sustaining your programme, you will require a continuous improvement culture to ensure that further advances and opportunities are being found as you strive for perfection.
As a business methodology lean six sigma gives you a framework to fully realise the potential of robotic process automation.
If you’d like to hear more about the lean RPA training then contact me or look out for more at the RPA Academy.