Enabling Automation Success: What to do Before And After Deployment

Enterprise organizations all over the world have jumped on the RPA bandwagon. Your executive staff is asking questions about this automation technology: licensing, where it can help, and how quickly could it be up and running. Maybe you’ve deployed some bots already and are looking elsewhere for additional automation opportunities. Or maybe you’re just getting started. Where do you go from here? Below are a few key actions you must take – prior to implementation – that will enable you to deploy RPA faster and recognize better results.


Identify a starting point.

Just like every other major phase of your digital transformation journey, the starting point is very important. It may seem easy at first, as there seem to be myriad places that bots can be of value in any company. Refuse the urge to throw bots at a problem without details and a plan. First, make sure to get a complete and accurate picture of your current state business operations. Taking the time to get all this information will easily enable you to identify the areas that will have the most impact. And using an automated process discovery solution like FortressIQ will feed you those answers much more quickly, and with more detail so you can validate your recommendations with the team and proceed with confidence.

Define metrics for success.

Having a successful deployment model (or RPA roadmap) is crucial to maintain the momentum for bot utilization and maintenance. Many enterprise companies have purchased tens to hundreds of RPA licenses and have only used a fraction. Having a system to quickly identify with your team where to target automation and using auto process discovery methods to support the recommendations will keep you on track to deploy more rapidly and track along the way. We recommend creating a custom prioritization template with input from departmental subject matter experts (SMEs) and business analysts to define consistent mechanisms to track and report on progress.

Plan on rework.

While the implementation of bots has been made easier with more accurate documentation and easy coding, what is often unplanned for in an automation project is the fact that bots can and do break; they have to be constantly monitored and fixed. Enterprises that do not add in these steps, potential costs and overhead into an RPA project plan end up scrambling for resources when a problem occurs. Building this into your plan will ensure you have the resources to swiftly address problems and not get stuck spinning your wheels on rework.

Continuously check and pivot strategy.

At the end of each round of bot deployments, document how the process has changed and what the estimated ROI will be for those RPA licenses now in use. Taking this action will ensure you are checking on overall progress along the way. If you’d like to dig in a bit more on what it takes to make RPA successful, check out our infographic on questions to ask before implementing automation.

Delivering Process Intelligence to Microsoft Power Automate Customers

“We create technology so others can create more technology.”

– Satya Nadella, Microsoft

The Importance of Accurate Process Discovery

Discovery, Documentation, Due Diligence, and Details: The Importance of Accurate Process Discovery

Detailed process discovery is a necessary component for any desired process change to make a significant positive impact.

Enterprise organizations across industries are looking to optimize their business processes, especially in non-revenue producing departments. When done successfully, this can lead to an increase in revenue, reduction in spend, and deliver better experiences for their employees and customers.

The desired outcomes from detailed process discovery generally fall into the following categories:

  • Fix the process – often may involve employee re-training
  • Fix the system – legacy systems and old versions of systems could be slowing the process and stalling productivity
  • Outsource the process – business process outsourcing (BPO) companies may be able to save significant amounts of money, especially for common tasks
  • Automate the process — or a portion of the process, using RPA or more complex AI methods
  • Transform the process – maybe the process is moved to interact with a different system, or maybe the process is eliminated altogether if there is serious lack of efficiency

Although different solutions exist for these scenarios, in order to be executed successfully, there is one thing needed: a detailed account of the current state operations of the processes identified.

What is Automated Process Discovery?

Using an AI-driven approach to discovery – instead of traditional methods – delivers a more accurate picture of your current state operations and does so in a fraction of the time. Many shifts in a business process, especially when looking at areas to automate or outsource, need to contain detailed documentation on the steps in the process, what order the tasks go in, and the length of time it takes to complete the process, etc.

Cathy Tornbohm, an analyst at Gartner, writes about robotic process discovery in the August 2019 report Differentiate BPO Via Advanced Process Capture. FortressIQ is cited as a tool provider for robotics process discovery in the report.

“Robotic process discovery helps discover the sequence of the different steps that are being undertaken. This improves the accuracy of the process document and reduces the laborious preparation of designing with teams of people the exact process that needs to be completed,” states Gartner.

We see that using computer vision and other AI technology, employees executing a process, or series of tasks within a larger process are observed and an auto-process discovery tool like FortressIQ can map out all the various ways that process and/or task is currently being done.

Why Do We Think Automated Process Discovery is Important?

The traditional method of using people – whether you use an internal team or bring in outside help – to interview staff and manually document processes is tired.

Gartner writes, “Much of the hard work that goes into winning a new business process outsourcing (BPO) client can have its profit margin rapidly eroded by the new client’s ignorance over its ‘as-is’ process state. Manual process capture usually extends BPO transfer of service time while building up significant costs from travel expenses (for hotels, flights, meals, visas) and labor time to complete the documentation.

This is often a highly inefficient process; it relies on small numbers of trained individuals from the provider — with limited or no visibility on the client’s internal business and process challenges/issues — to capture the information. In addition, often when people are interviewed, they do not recall what they do 100% of the time. For example, people will forget seasonal activities and up to about 30% of their ad hoc tasks.”

We believe using a solution to discover, document, and provide detailed information on your processes will save you countless hours in time, as well as millions in spend. And, it will provide a more accurate picture of your current state operations, helping to improve your business more quickly over time.

FortressIQ Exits Stealth with $16 Million in Funding to Bring Cognitive Process Analysis to the Enterprise

Its Virtual Process Analyst combines Computer Vision + Natural Language + Sequence Modeling to accelerate digital transformation projects for the Global 2000, reducing current state assessments from months to weeks, lowering costs by up to 90%

  • Innovative AI platform automates the understanding of processes, amplifying an organization’s ability to leverage technologies such as Robotic Process Automation and Conversational Agents
  • Process comprehension surpasses existing technologies by connecting disjointed processes and uncovering business rules–without any integrations, log access or manual data mapping

SAN FRANCISCO, December 4, 2018 – FortressIQ, creator of a cognitive automation platform that powers and accelerates digital transformation through imitation learning, today announced it has raised $12 million in Series A financing from Lightspeed Venture Partners. This new capital extends $4 million in seed funding from Boldstart Ventures, Comcast Ventures and Eniac Ventures, bringing the total funds raised to date to $16 million.

Founded in 2017, FortressIQ pioneered a fundamentally new way for Global 2000 companies to achieve their transformation goals. Recognizing that the largest obstacle to digital transformation is the lack of detailed information on current state of operations, FortressIQ spent 18 months working with corporate transformation teams building AI to solve their most pressing needs. This powerful platform addresses Peter Drucker’s age-old maxim that “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it,” by delivering the quantified workforce and providing the data today’s enterprise needs to optimize their transformation initiatives.

“FortressIQ’s technology provides the insights necessary for a global organization to integrate the digital workforce into their operations,” said Nakul Mandan, partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners. “We think the company’s strong management team, with its data-driven approach, is uniquely positioned to alter the expensive, slow and inefficient methodologies that prevent businesses from fully realizing their digital transformation initiatives today.”

Each year, billions of dollars and millions of hours are spent with process analysts interviewing users and generating documentation. The large diversity, age and customization of enterprise applications has made traditional technical solutions to this problem impossible, forcing organizations that want a detailed understanding of their complex operations down a laborious and often error-prone path that can take months for a single business function. As PwC puts it, we should “imagine a world in which automation tools watch how we work, then use artificial intelligence (AI)-driven insights to tell us how to work better (or upgrade our work efforts for us) on the fly.” FortressIQ delivers that vision.

How the FortressIQ Cognitive Automation Platform Works

At the heart of the platform is the FortressIQ Virtual Process Analyst, which structurally changes how companies acquire knowledge of their operations, learning the same way that humans do, through observation. The Virtual Process Analyst transparently learns a business process and all its permutations as they occur in real-time, then assesses, analyzes and provides valuable insights to guide operational change in days.

Leveraging computer vision instead of user interviews, APIs or transaction logs, the Virtual Process Analyst requires zero integration and can work with any application, on premise or cloud based, instantly. FortressIQ provides a time to value in weeks, and meets all the needs of compliance, IT/Infosec and operations.

“We’re thrilled to partner with a premier enterprise investor like Lightspeed, which has deep knowledge of the Global 2000 and their digital needs,” said Pankaj Chowdhry, founder and CEO of FortressIQ. “After speaking with hundreds of companies it became clear that the dollars being wasted on process assessments and documentation are a ‘tax on innovation,’ syphoning dollars from transformation initiatives. To address this grim reality, we’re delivering on the promise of cognitive automation with the GA release of our platform, putting us in a strong position to build on the sales momentum and traction we’re already experiencing with Fortune 500 companies.”

FortressIQ will be at the Intelligent Automation Austin conference on December 4-5. Stop by booth 35 to learn more and see a demo of FortressIQ’s imitation learning technology in action.

About FortressIQ

FortressIQ is the creator of a cognitive automation platform that powers and accelerates digital transformation through imitation learning. Using an innovative type of AI that combines computer vision, natural language and sequence modeling, FortressIQ learns how a business functions through live activity analysis. By radically lowering the cost, effort and time required to document business processes, Global 2000 customers can use FortressIQ’s platform to quickly gain the insights necessary to improve business operations. The FortressIQ platform requires no integration or API access, works with all applications whether proprietary or commercial, and delivers a time to value in weeks.

Founded in 2017, FortressIQ is backed by Lightspeed Venture Partners, Boldstart Ventures, Comcast Ventures and Eniac Ventures. To learn more please visit: https://www.fortressiq.com/

Media Contact: Jill Reed Sift Communications jill.reed@siftpr.com

19th Century French Philosophy, SkyNet, and the 4 realities of RPA

Any cocktail party conversation about AI in Silicon Valley inevitably comes around to the topic of SkyNet and the subsequent post-apocalyptic, dystopian future that will inevitably befall us as AI becomes more powerful. While the Terminator series does paint a bleak future for humanity, the focus on SkyNet distracts from another central theme, that AI (cleverly disguised as Arnold Schwarzenegger) working with mankind is the best hope for a prosperous future. However, having experienced multiple organizations struggle with automation, the idea of AI/human integration, while great in theory, is challenging in practice.

‘Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.’

Organizations on the transformation journey should take the counterintuitive approach of embracing both change and the status quo. This idea is embodied by French philosopher Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr’s “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” literally translated “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” The notion that automation must work together with humans within many of the existing constructs of an organization, lays the groundwork for a successful strategy. This strategy must integrate the four realities of RPA, which will impact the majority of your enterprise processes.

Reality #1 – Your Processes Aren’t Going Away

Anyone that has worked with current RPA tools will tell you that they can be severely lacking, and that the chance of their automating one hundred percent of a process is between slim and none. A recent study by McKinsey echoes this, finding that on average about thirty percent of a process can be automated using today’s technologies. Even as this percentage creeps higher we have to deal with the fact that the activities automated are often not continuous, human judgement must often be interjected, and exceptions happen. All of this means todays automation technologies can’t support a fundamental rewrite of your processes, yet.

Reality #2 – Your IT Systems Aren’t Going Away

One the strengths of RPA is its ability to work with legacy systems, giving organizations the ability to get more miles out of their existing technology. It’s not just the systems here that matter, though. The overall enterprise IT architecture supporting the application of identity, change management, security, integrations, and infrastructure all are going to be around for a very long time.

Reality #3 – Your People Aren’t Going Away

If your processes aren’t going away, and your systems aren’t going away, your people can’t go away. While the actual number of people executing activities may drop, the groups involved in the process execution will likely increase. IT, Security, Risk, and Compliance will be more involved in the day to day operations, now that RPA is embedded in a process.

Reality #4 – Your Organization’s Structure Isn’t Going Away

If people, process and systems aren’t going away, neither are the organizations that support them. While we can all agree that no organization is perfect, there are oftentimes decades of best practices embedded in their policies and procedures. Every component of an organization has evolved with a specific purpose that, while maybe not obvious, will most likely need to be addressed in the context of RPA.

When constructing our go-to-market strategies, we look at how can we lower the “switching costs” of our solution. A high switching cost means higher risks, higher expenses (impacting ROI), and usually a built in constituency that doesn’t look at change favorably. The same is true about an automation program. Every time the people, process, systems or org need to change, the switching costs are increasing. The key to the speed, and success of an RPA program lies in figuring out how to leverage components of the existing, while delivering change. It will at times be necessary to make large, transformational changes, but a land and expand strategy, while delivering value, presents the highest likelihood of success.