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When to apply Integration, RPA, and Intelligent Automation in the transformation journey

Any successful transformation project needs a suitable toolset in the bag with clear instructions on when to use which tools and how to apply them. Read to blog to learn more

Abhijit Joshi / September 19, 2022

Learn to identify when to use Integration, RPA, and Intelligent Automation with a reusable decision matrix, used by some of the industry players

In my last blog, I talked about the need for Integration, RPA, and Intelligent Automation (IRIA) to work together. Now, let us explore the reusable decision matrix tool to make choices among multiple technology groups like Integration, RPA, and Intelligent automation and tools like Azure Integration services, Uipath etc. 

In this blog you will learn:

Let us first understand why we need a decision matrix with an analogy

If you happen to be the parent of a very young child, you will recognize an exciting pattern they depict while creating their own Lego World.

 Let us assume your child is building a house, car, or castle; let us call it a structure. In the first attempt, the child moves quickly by putting a random and easy combination of pieces together, but in most cases, the child struggles to find the matching pieces to put together after completing about 80% of the structure.

As a remedy, the child will try various combinations of the remaining pieces to force-fit into the structure. This is a futile attempt to complete the structure.

After taking a small break (crying or not crying) or parental intervention, they will break the 80% built structure and then quickly and successfully rebuild the entire thing by ensuring the proper combination of pieces from the start instead of the random and easy combination of the pieces.

You may ask, what has changed in the second attempt? And the answer is, consciously or unconsciously, the child applies their learning from the first attempt by asking themselves the right questions (what is the correct combination of pieces) from the start. What this tells us, is that it is imperative to ask the correct questions in order to find an appropriate answer. Asking the right questions can make you come to better decisions faster. 

Now you will ask me how this example relates to “when to apply IRIA in the Transformation journey.” We can depict the answer in the following form:

  1. Business needs
  2. High level requirements
  3. Correct questions/headers on "AS IS environment"
  4. Quantifiable answers
  5. List of essential attributes for proposed technology tool based on weightage numbers
  6. Scores based on answers ranges and weightage numbers
  7. Comparison of the resulted list of details vs. features of technology or tool available in the market
  8. Result of choice of technology or tools

Applying the decision matrix in a business context

Let us apply this to our context; we can assume your organization has a diverse set of mix generation applications. Multiple applications participating in the core business processes needs to perform various operations while interacting with each other.

In this example, let's say that you have framed a very high-level requirement that the organization wants to improve two business processes to deliver a 35% reduction in efforts and processing time with a nominal investment, i.e., minimal investment and maximum ROI within a couple of quarters.

Now, you got a toolset, scope, timeline, KPI, and budget.

Let us deep dive, validate the assumptions, and frame the decision matrix for technology choices. If you do some research, you will find plenty of questions to be asked; unfortunately, we cannot look at all questions in this blog but let us look at the themes of questions that need to be answered to form a decision matrix.

  • Application Attributes
  • Data Attributes
  • Operations Attributes (Manual/data etc.)
  • Interface Attributes (touchpoints etc.)
  • Execution Attributes (Frequency/runtime etc.)
  • Limitation, Constraints, and Compliances
  • Human Capital Engagement
  • Business Process Attributes

Now you have a good list of questions. You might notice that all questions are driven by environmental factors of the AS-IS landscape, i.e., current application, business process, and task settings. Based on correct and essential questions, let us visualize how the decision matrix should look like.

We can safely imagine the decision matrix in three layers. Following are the three layers of the reusable decision matrix some of the industry players are using:

  1. Technology group choice
  2. Feasibility check
  3. Tool choice from the technology group

Let us look at the sample of a 1st layer decision matrix - Technology group choice

Please find one of the sample decision matrices used by an industry player, which should give you enough indicators of a suitable choice of technology group for assigned tasks.

Click the image to enlarge

In this layer, you can detect the limitations and strengths of a technology group and its application in business processes and given tasks. You can use an as-is matrix (shown in the picture) with your suitable weightage multipliers, headers, and range label. The weightage multiplier helps you with “the score” calculated with the type of range and header.

You may ask how to identify the score of the answer; let us assume we only consider three headers/questions. Please note summation of all weights or Ranges should be 1.0 = (0.5+0.3+0.2/0.12+0.33+0.55). Now you got a list of essential attributes of the proposed technology, i.e., the Header in the above picture. Here we can call Implementation complexity an essential header.

Let us calculate for example the Implementation Complexity score with different ranges; like the Low range, the score is 0.5*0.55 = 0.275. The medium range score is 0.181, and the high range score is 0.060. Once we have all scores, you need to list Technology groups and tools with their features, strengths, and weaknesses. 

When you have the features or attributes of market available technology groups and tools, you can compare the list based on the score from the first layer of the decision matrix. As an example; based on your architectural assessment, if Technology group A has medium implementation complexity and full scalability and stability (score 0.440), then it is chosen over Technology group B with low implementation complexity and partial scalability and low stability (0.398).

Let us look at the sample of a 2nd layer decision matrix – The feasibility check

This layer will check the viability of implementing the determined (in the previous layer) technology-based solution.

Click the image to enlarge

Any transformation project poses some level of risk. The feasibility check matrix helps us examine potential risks to determine whether they are worth taking. A detailed feasibility check can distinguish real saving or revenue opportunities from transformation projects/investments that could fail.

Let us look at the sample of a 3rd layer decision matrix - Tool choices from the technology group

This layer will help you identify a suitable tool within a specific application group.

For example, if we want to choose an integration tool, then the matrix shown in the picture can be used in partial or complete form to make a decision.

Click the image to enlarge

Please be advised that in the sample matrix, only essential headers are shown, but you may add a few more headers or areas to make the decision.

With the three-layered reusable decision matrix, you can institutionalize the decision of when to use Integration, RPA, and Intelligent Automation during digital transformation projects.

In practice, it will work like this:

  • In the first layer, you will be able to identify the Integration technology to be used in the project based on headers like implementation complexity, number of steps with manual intervention, type of manual intervention etc.
  • The second layer will give you a result telling the high feasibility of success while implementing the integration solution based on headers like error tolerance level, parallel activities to be performed, data and info availability etc.
  • With the third layer, you can conclude that Azure Integration service is the tool to be used in the project based on headers like type of underline framework, data integration type, number of ready-to-use connectors, API design, and lifecycle management etc.

In conclusion, will you be able to build, use and justify a reusable decision matrix to decide when to use IRIA?

The answer is yes. We can see that the three-layered reusable decision matrix can be used to make appropriate tech and tool choices. Building a reusable decision matrix tool will give you an unbiased and quantitative indication of suitable technology and tool. Not doing that puts your transformation program at a risk of likely failing.

Even though the blog’s scope is IRIA, the lessons apply to a broader group of technologies. Based on our experience, the large-scale transformation experience is essential to success. We at Tietoevry have a solid capability to advise in the digital transformation journey. My colleagues and I would be happy to discuss how we can help you over a cup of coffee.

Eager to learn more about how we can support your business? Do not hesitate to reach out!

Did you miss my first blog about why IRIA needs to work together? Just click this link to read it


Abhijit Joshi
Business Architect

Abhijit is a Digital Transformation expert focused on delivering value through AI, Automation, and Integration based solutions. He has strong experience in helping customers from the exploration stage to the transformation stage across industries like manufacturing and construction etc. He is passionate about the human and technology interface aspect of business transformation.

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