Automation Academy

‘Eat Your Own Dog Food,’ or: How We Use RPA for Onboarding

19.11.2019
4 min read
How We Use RPA for Onboarding

If you work in tech, the odds are high that you’ve heard the phrase “eat your own dog food.” But if you haven’t, don’t worry — it should not be taken literally.

The phrase “eating your own dog food” is used to describe a situation where a company uses its own products or services for its internal operations. The idea is that if the product is good for the company’s employees in their day-to-day job, it is good for customers as well (and vice versa!).

At WorkFusion, we “eat our own dog food” by automating several processes with our Intelligent Automation and RPA tools. Like any other company, we have plenty of repeatable and time-consuming daily activities that can be considered good use cases for automation. One process we have automated with our robotic process automation tool is onboarding new students in Automation Academy's advanced training courses.

Let’s take a closer look at this workflow.

How we built the business process

Let’s analyze the step-by-step approach that the team used when creating the RPA workflow.

Step 1: Investigate and ensure the process is suitable for automation

Before starting development, we needed to analyze the onboarding process to understand whether it was a good fit for RPA or Intelligent Automation:

  • Is the process rule-based? During onboarding, the Academy team needs to follow a well-defined process: provide students that enroll in advanced automation training with access to the learning platform, the WorkFusion Knowledge Base, and the training instances. All these systems have standard forms to fill, and trainees may have different access rights depending on their selected learning path. Rules-based processes are good fits for RPA.
  • Does the process use structured data? In the onboarding process, the team works with structured digital data in text and number formats. The data includes:
    • trainee’s first name
    • last name
    • email address
    • targeted learning path

The data can be presented in a CSV format, which makes it easy to parse and use in the business process. RPA can only work with structured data, not unstructured, so this is also a good fit.

Step 2: Identify the steps of the automated business process 

One of the best practices we teach trainees who want to learn automation is to break a complicated process into smaller logical chunks, automating each of them separately (creating a separate bot task for each) and combining the bot tasks in a single coherent process. This is exactly what we did after deciding to automate the onboarding process. We divided the whole process into five separate stages:

  1. Get the data from the input file
  2. Create an Automation Academy account for the trainee
  3. Create a Knowledge Base account
  4. Provide access to WorkFusion’s automation training instance
  5. Send a welcome letter to the trainee

Step 3: Gather input data in a standard format

We decided that the trainee data would be sent to the onboarding team in the pre-defined format, combined in a single CSV file with the following structure:

Gather input data

This can be read and parsed using robotic process automation alone, without the need to use OCR or machine learning for data extraction.

Step 4: Create an RPA bot for each step

After the structure of the business process and the input data were defined, the Academy team, together with our partners, developed an RPA bot for each step defined above.

RPA process steps

The result of our development efforts was the following business process:

Business process

It consists of six RPA bots or bot tasks:

  • Accounts ETL bot reads the CSV file with information about new trainees.
  • Parse Input Data bot parses the data retrieved by the previous RPA bot.
  • Academy Account bot uses the input data to create an account for a trainee in Automation Academy with access to the courses in the specified learning path(s).
  • KB Account bot gives the trainee access to the Knowledge Base spaces (articles) required for the specified learning path(s).
  • Instance Account bot creates a user for each trainee on one of the WorkFusion automation training instances. Users can have different roles.
  • Send Emails bot sends a welcome email to the trainee with information about the courses, training materials, and credentials. A copy of the email is sent to the trainee’s manager, too.

Automating the onboarding process helped us save about two hours every day, which we can dedicate to improving Automation Academy training materials and supporting students.

Wondering if your process is a fit for robotic process automation as well? Take the Automation Essentials course and learn to identify automation opportunities in your company.

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