- Find feasible & worthy process automation cases of end-to-end operations credits.
- Create a robot to improve the customer service and allow the team to free up time to focus on its core activities.
- An RPA project delivered on time, doing well in production without unexpected errors.
As a project consultant at Trifinance Financial Institutions, I got the opportunity to work on several RPA initiatives in the credit domain of one of the biggest banks of Belgium. It was an adventure from the beginning until the end of the project: from finding a convenient business case to automate, until the moment you expect the robot to become a well-integrated team member.
Over the last year, I have been working for Process & Change Lending within the tribe of Risk & Credits at one of our clients. The client asked me to find feasible & worthy process automation cases in the department of end-to-end operations credits.
The client chose TriFinance thanks to its experience in process management and business analysis, availability of mentors on the field with the right soft skills and technical knowledge to support the consultants where necessary. Besides, TriFinance consultants go beyond their initial project focus, they support other colleagues & share their process knowledge & experience on the field.
It was an adventure from the beginning until the end of the project.
Charlotte Beelaerts - Project Consultant
I faced many challenges, from the beginning until the end of the project. One of the biggest challenges I faced was to manage the very broad scope of this project: I was in charge of the end-to-end project, and responsible for convenient case identification, action plan of the project, process description, process improvement, functional analysis, bridge between business and developers, testing coordination, training, change management.
So I had to find a process within credits for which the business case was worth it to implement in the longer term. Having a complete view on the process was necessary:
- Couldn’t we simplify the process before automation in order to have a more solid process?
- Could the potential simplified process be automated at a technical level, and so could all actions of the process and all applications be used by the robot?
- Could we automate the entire process or is only partial automation possible?
Taking into account all these different aspects, was necessary to have a complete & detailed view on the business case.
Writing of the functional analysis
Once the business case was ready & profitable enough to continue the project, the next challenge was to write the functional analysis in such a way that the logic of it was built especially for a robot and also for the developer who will build the case afterwards, based on the new re-engineered & designed process. In a functional analysis is explained in detail what the robot is supposed to do.
For this, I had to gather all details of the process activities & exceptions from the business side in order to fully cover happy and non-happy flow in the functional analysis. If not everything was covered, the robot would block on a certain moment.
Challenging stakeholder management
Many stakeholders were involved in the project, e.g.: the developer, the business (teams working on different sites) where the robot would be implemented, the team at the robotics department that validates the functional analysis and validates the test plan. At the level of stakeholder management, the challenge was achieving an alignment between all business stakeholders - often working on different sites - about business requirements and other important decisions to take on certain moments in time. Stakeholders often have multiple priorities to handle, I noticed that sufficient and clear communication to all of them about for example the progression of the project, about decisions to take for next steps, are needed to get them aligned.
The importance of change management
Change management was very important for the well-functioning of the robot. When working on a project which implies change, we easily feel resistance from the impacted teams. This resistance is even higher when we are working on a project where people’s jobs might be at risk because the robot will replace their daily work. Good and open communication with the stakeholders is very important in this situation: I managed to change their sceptic mindset during the project and integrated the robot like another new member of the team. Experiencing the advantages of having more time to focus on their core activities, being able to give more service to the client and the possibility to work on other interesting automation projects, makes it easier to get the stakeholders convinced of the positive evolution in this change.
The RPA project was delivered in time, is doing well in production without unexpected errors thanks to a qualitative functional analysis and end-users that are well-trained to handle the robot on a daily basis. All stakeholders are very satisfied with the result, and I received excellent feedback.
This would not have been possible without good cooperation with all involved stakeholders. By giving each other feedback and by coaching one another, we brought this experience to the next level.
Sometimes developers make the joke: “testing is doubting”. But the opposite is true: the correct functioning of a robot highly depends on sufficient testing of all possible test scenarios.
Charlotte Beelaerts - Project Consultant
The learnings for our project consultant
Communication is key
In general I conclude that communication is key throughout the project. It is an opportunity to consider the making of a robot as teamwork, and I have learned that I need to support and help each other throughout the project, even if some of my stakeholders were skeptical in the beginning. After a while, the stakeholders change their opinion and thanks to this support and positive attitude towards them, better end results are achieved in the end.
I also learned not to be afraid to try out all the systems working behind the processes and not only to count on the information received from the business. While doing so, we got a better feeling with the process itself, and we were able to capture more details, find out more possible exceptions which were significant for our functional analysis.
Testing is crucial
Sometimes developers make the joke: “testing is doubting”. But the opposite is true: the correct functioning of a robot highly depends on sufficient testing of all possible test scenarios. Testing is also a crucial part of change management because end-users of the robot are sufficiently involved during this phase: they see how the robot works in practice and still can make corrections if necessary.
Business analysis and RPA/AI
As from the start of this mission, I was already keen with the technical aspect of business analysis and I wanted to continue into the direction of business analysis. Suddenly, I got the opportunity to do this kind of project in the domain of RPA/AI. There is still much to learn about those interesting domains of business analysis and RPA/AI but in this short term, I continued specializing myself in topics such as analysis and writing of business cases, process improvement, functional analysis, test strategies, change management, stakeholder management and project management.
For more info you can always contact Charlotte Beelaerts