This article was initially published in November 2019 and has been updated in October 2020.
Measuring the performance of your RPA deployment is a crucial part of determining its success — and something clients usually ask about from the start.
As your RPA partner, we want to make sure we establish transparent and quantitative KPIs that will easily reveal both the operation and financial impact of the RPA deployment on your business.
To this end, we’ve also put together several case studies that you can check out to gauge the effects of robotic process automation in the FMCG industry, utilities industry, and legal industry. If you’re curious to see more case studies and pragmatic results obtained through automation, simply subscribe to our newsletter below and you’ll be the first to find out when we publish the next one.
If you want to find out more about how to set KPIs for your RPA deployment, and how to measure both operational and business metrics, read on.
A key challenge for discussions of business success is that the notion of success is very context-specific, that is, it can have very different meanings for different RPA stakeholders.
When it comes to measuring success, however, it is rather certain that an accurate estimation is obtained by tracking key outcomes of RPA deployment. There are two categories of robotic process automation KPIs:
- operational insights, which refer to information related to the RPA execution but make no reference to financial or time savings (e.g. how many hours a software robot has worked in a certain amount of time)
- business insights, which bridge the gap from the operational level to the business level and show how RPA has benefitted your company (e.g. the total number of invoices processed by bots)
The insights offered to business leaders by the KPIs for RPA seem to motivate them to initiate the digital journey. And this seems to be the case worldwide. A very recent Deloitte report based on the answers of 523 executives from 26 countries shows that 8% of the businesses have started to use automation extensively (i.e., more than 50 instances of automation), which is double the percentage from the year before.
“A very recent Deloitte report based on the answers of 523 executives from 26 countries shows that 8% of the businesses have started to use automation extensively, which is double the percentage from the year before.”
This means that scaling is on an ascending trend, probably because the CEOs have started to realise the benefits of enterprise-wide deployment. There can be no denial that the KPIs make a significant contribution to this trend.
If this is so, it is legitimate to wonder about ways of optimally setting the KPIs for your RPA deployment. The question is related to the subject of choosing appropriate metrics for a comprehensive assessment of ROI, beyond the financial impact of leveraging RPA in your company.
In fact, the need to track various kinds of benefits, some of which are plain to observe and easy to calculate (the reduced costs of implementation, etc.) is a precondition of obtaining accurate estimates of the ROI made possible by automation. Setting your robotic process automation KPIs can thus be seen as a road opener for measuring ROI, which is itself a business metric.
It is important to keep in mind that KPI setting, just like running ROI estimations, is a complex issue that calls for several layers of analysis, from the easily noticeable financial benefits to the more intricate, qualitative ones like employees’ job satisfaction.
Our advice is that you should not aim for a generally applicable KPI picture since different processes have different sets of relevant indicators. The list below provides some guidance for the choice of indicators that is most likely to allow for rigorous appraisal of your automation journey.
How to set KPIs for your RPA deployment
The first six KPIs provide operational insights, while the last one is a business metric.
1. Implementation costs
This is an indicator with a significant influence on the ROI of your automation project, which is why it is important to include it among the success indicators. Generally, the budget required for RPA implementation is lower than that for other IT infrastructure projects, and the time to completion is much reduced (three months for a bot, compared with several years for IT infrastructure projects). Hence reliance on implementation costs can show the financial benefits of RPA beyond doubt.
2. Cycle time
Performance estimations based on the overall time it takes to complete a process is also likely to put RPA in a good light. Because of their capacity to accomplish routine tasks faster (and error-free), software robots lead to cycle time reductions. Moreover, bots do not get tired, nor do they have ‘holiday ideation’ so to say, which allows them to work steadily and consistently.
This is a measure of the output of your company at a particular time. Given the reduction in cycle time, RPA deployment typically boosts this KPI, which is an index of successful deployment. However, you should keep in mind the potential side effect that the incremented throughput can create a bottleneck in the workflow because it can’t be processed any further.
This is why, when planning your company’s digitisation via RPA, you should carefully assess the end-to-end processes in order to be prepared to act fast in case of congestions.