Back Office Automation Building Blocks

Back-Office automation happens when your computer does something that a human previously did. Automation seems like a tough concept to get your head around. The fear comes from the fact that we feel that we have no way to understand what is happening when automation occurs. 

When back-office automation is happening, there are actually only six major actions that are taking place. Any automation that you run is made up of a series of these six actions done in a row.  

If you know the six actions, you can start to map out your process so that it can be automated. In our example, we are going to call our automation a ‘bot’ that will be doing the work for us.

  • Reading – This is the act of getting data for your bot to use. It can be used to read data from a screen, website, file, or another source. Reading data is usually the starting point of a process, just as it is for humans. If you don’t have the information to read, you don’t know what to do next. 
  • Understanding (Evaluating) – The evaluation step helps the bot make decisions. Is the amount greater than $100 or less than $100? Each scenario will cause the cheque record to be entered into a different system.
  • Transforming – Transforming can happen at any time. Transformation can be a change to the data that is ready or new data generated because of an evaluation that has taken place. For example: If the person has more than $40k income, start a line of credit application, less than $40k start a credit card application.
  • Creating – Creating records with a bot is done in the same way that a human would create a record. Where-ever you would click the ‘New Record’ button the bot will now be able to click the same button. What-ever data comes from reading or transformation can be entered into the new record.
  • Updating – Updating is the same as Creating. If there is a process to update the record currently, the same process will be used for updating the record. Often you may add an additional read/ evaluate step to ensure that the updated data is entered in the way that you wanted it to be. 
  • Deleting – Deleting a record is done by the bot in the same way that Updating and Creating the record is done. If a human can delete a record, the bot can too. If deleting is automated, you definitely want to put some read/ evaluation criteria in place to make sure that you are removing the correct records. You also want to put in a log of what is was deleted. Logging actions can be done by an easy Create step that will create and update a log file of deleted records. 

Automation is about using the above six steps in a wide variety of different scenarios (web, desktop, apps, etc.) These six steps: Read, Understand, Transform, Create, Update, Delete all have to do with the data that the bot handles. You can use these steps to start to map out your next automation.