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

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. 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.

Autores: Andrés Jiménez Ramírez / Hajo A. Reijers / Irene Barba / Carmelo Del Valle / 
Palabras Clave: business process outsourcing - process discovery - Robotic Process Automation

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