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A Method to Improve the Early Stages of the Robotic Process Automation Lifecycle

  • Andres Jimenez-RamirezEmail author
  • Hajo A. Reijers
  • Irene Barba
  • Carmelo Del Valle
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11483)

Abstract

The robotic automation of processes is of much interest to organizations. A common use case is to automate the repetitive manual tasks (or processes) that are currently done by back-office staff through some information system (IS). The lifecycle of any Robotic Process Automation (RPA) project starts with the analysis of the process to automate. This is a very time-consuming phase, which in practical settings often relies on the study of process documentation. Such documentation is typically incomplete or inaccurate, e.g., some documented cases never occur, occurring cases are not documented, or documented cases differ from reality. To deploy robots in a production environment that are designed on such a shaky basis entails a high risk. This paper describes and evaluates a new proposal for the early stages of an RPA project: the analysis of a process and its subsequent design. The idea is to leverage the knowledge of back-office staff, which starts by monitoring them in a non-invasive manner. This is done through a screen-mouse-key-logger, i.e., a sequence of images, mouse actions, and key actions are stored along with their timestamps. The log which is obtained in this way is transformed into a UI log through image-analysis techniques (e.g., fingerprinting or OCR) and then transformed into a process model by the use of process discovery algorithms. We evaluated this method for two real-life, industrial cases. The evaluation shows clear and substantial benefits in terms of accuracy and speed. This paper presents the method, along with a number of limitations that need to be addressed such that it can be applied in wider contexts.

Keywords

Robotic process automation Process discovery Business process outsourcing 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research has been supported by the Pololas project (TIN2016-76956-C3-2-R) of the Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad. Special thanks to Rafael Cabello from Serviform S.A. for providing his invaluable support and access to the case data.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andres Jimenez-Ramirez
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hajo A. Reijers
    • 2
  • Irene Barba
    • 1
  • Carmelo Del Valle
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Lenguajes y Sistemas InformáticosUniversity of SevilleSevilleSpain
  2. 2.Utrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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