Robotics & Automation News

Market trends and business perspectives

Need for Lean Six Sigma practitioners to be conversant in RPA

Humans are prone to exhaustion and errors when subjected to monotonous work.

Automation of such tasks will free the employees from the drudgery of repetitive tasks and they can handle more creative and strategic responsibilities in their reclaimed time.

RPA makes this possible. Organizations are trying to aggressively implement RPA in their middle and back offices.

What is RPA?

AssistEdge RPA is a software that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to partially or fully automate tasks that are performed by humans. Most of these tasks are rule-based and repetitive. RPA is a user-friendly technology.

For instance, it can collect information from emails and creates excel spreadsheets out of them. It can make calculations and send such reports to you every day.

RPA is capable of mimicking humans to carry out complex processes. It can function 24/7 and gives a high accuracy rate. Some of the instances where RPA can be used are vendor or employee on-boarding, payroll processing, etc.

However, RPA tools cannot design a good process or work-flow. RPA solutions are futile in these cases.

There are some risks if RPA technology is implemented without proper planning. We need LSS for optimization of the process to avoid such pitfalls.

What is Lean Six Sigma (LSS)?

Lean Six Sigma is a method to improve the performance of the process by eliminating unnecessary steps or activities in this process.

It also reduces the time between tasks which ensures increased cycles of the process occurring within the same interval of time. LSS method aims to provide a better customer experience by improving quality.

Combination of RPA and LSS

One of the most common causes of RPA project failure is the automation of flawed processes. Automating a broken process will not give the desired outcome because it is also automating existing process problems.

Automating failed processes is a waste of time and resources. It may contain unnecessary steps or activities. It may not work at all. Backtracking and adjustments cause further delays.

Therefore, Process redesigning is a mandatory step before RPA implementation. LSS can optimize the process to achieve process excellence and make RPA solutions efficient.

LSS removes waste and reduces variation to make a process lean and agile.

Following are the eight types of waste that must be eliminated for the efficient functioning of the RPA technology:

1. Defects
When the process doesn’t work, rectifying errors and redoing them is time-consuming. Automation with a defective process has no value.

2. Overproduction
Processes are done according to necessity. When they are done in excess, it is a waste of time and resources. For example, generating a report that a customer didn’t request is a waste of time and resources.

3. Waiting
A process can be stuck due to an incomplete previous process, lack of certain information, or authorization issues. Such waiting causes long wait times and causes further delays. Processes must be redesigned before the implementation of RPA.

4. Non-utilization of talent
Wastage of human potential is a huge loss to the organization. When employees are not allowed to give feedback and recommendations to management about the improvement of processes, delays aren’t stopped. Under recognition of employees is also a waste.

5. Transportation
Having a clear understanding and implementing an efficient work-flow design can eliminate redundant back and forth movement in a process. Optimization of resources and work-flows is important.

6. Inventory
Having a centralized database is necessary to avoid an unnecessary stock pile-up in inventory, unused resources in storage, etc.

7. Motion
Inefficient shop layouts that need physical intervention, the extra movement required to reach resources, products, or tools is a waste of time when they can be arranged in a way to save time.

8. Extra processing
Unnecessary processing adds no further value to a process but consumes time and resources.

These waste names make an acrostic DOWNTIME.

All the processes are not a candidate for RPA automation. After wastes are removed, processes are stabilized by LSS.

LSS will process more suitable candidates for RPA solutions. LSS also frees up licensing resources and hardware, increases robustness, and reduces errors.

  • Simple and complex processes are identified.
  • Processes that have more repetition are identified.
  • Automation is deployed post LSS through RPA software tools for processes.
  • It increases efficiency and delivers maximum ROI (Return on Investment) for the RPA automation initiative.
  • Regularly used processes have to be analyzed from time to time to check if there is any room for improvement.

Extensive knowledge of technology is required to launch an RPA project at a keystroke level. Understanding RPA technology and LSS can help in re-engineering the processes as required.

All the processes have to be standardized, optimized, and well documented. Adequate and proper documentation helps the development team to produce an optimum result.


RPA is not the complete solution to all types of human insufficiency. But good process engineering and human efforts are needed in the back-end along with the RPA tools.

LSS practitioners acquiring knowledge in RPA take their skill-set to the next level. Organizations are adopting RPA technology to stay ahead in the competition and to give a seamless customer experience.

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