Robotic process automation (RPA) metrics: How to measure success

You can measure robotic process automation ROI - but that’s far from the only metric that informs the story of your success. Dig into a set of RPA metrics you can use
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4 kinds of RPA metrics to build a case for further automation

All of the above are great prompts for self-directed thinking about how you’ll measure RPA after it rolls out and ultimately building or reinforcing the business case. If you want an example of this kind of thinking can translate into a specific measurement framework, especially once you’ve moved beyond a pilot or first project to a longer-term RPA initiative, we’ve also got you covered.

“To develop a robust business case that can stand up to executive, operational, and tactical scrutinization, it’s best to build a holistic business case consisting of four pillars,” says Chris Huff, chief strategy officer at Kofax.

In each of these four areas, Huff suggests particular metrics worth tracking. Again, they offer a mix of qualitative and quantitative assessments.

Financial Impact

  • Average annual cost savings
  • Five-year cost savings
  • Payback period
  • Five-year return on investment

Business Operational Value

  • Process efficiencies: processing time
  • Process efficiencies: daily throughput
  • Improvement in data analytics capability
  • Improvement to compliance/accuracy

Workforce Impact

  • Number of employees reallocated
  • Annual labor hours saved
  • Reduction in case workload per tax

Strategic Alignment

  • How automation is aligned to a larger digital transformation strategy. (In general, this is the category where you’re showing how RPA is enabling broader business goals, whether you use the term “digital transformation” or not.)

“A balanced approach that consists of aligning the qualitative benefits of RPA to the larger strategy, while articulating the quantitative impact, is a great way to measure the overall effectiveness,” Huff says. “However, one thing not as quantifiable is the value that’s added from eliminating time-consuming tasks from workers’ day-to-day lives and enabling them to focus on more valuable and rewarding work.”

Don’t forget RPA’s downstream benefits

Employee satisfaction is indeed a good example of a metric that is as much qualitative as quantitative, if not more so. In general, it’s a good reminder that ROI can be about more than dollars and cents.

“Analyze the overall impact by looking at the downstream effects,” advises David Landreman, CPO at Olive. These longer-term impacts might overlap with the metrics above, but they include long-term thinking about your possible next steps with RPA, as with AI. Landreman shares some example questions:

  • Has RPA met my expectations?
  • Are there opportunities to expand workflows to add more value?
  • What does the reduction in errors, decreased days in A/R, or decreased denials mean for the organization?
  • Are we able to reallocate full-time employees to focus on other high priority initiatives?
  • If we could replicate the same efficiency gains from process A to process B, C, D, E, etc. what would the impact be?

This kind of thinking will also help you narrate and evangelize success stories in a compelling fashion that brings your metrics to life when talking with other C-suite execs, the board, and other stakeholders.

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Kevin Casey writes about technology and business for a variety of publications. He won an Azbee Award, given by the American Society of Business Publication Editors, for his story, "Are You Too Old For IT?" He's a former community choice honoree in the Small Business Influencer Awards.

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