14 February 2019

Automation Anywhere – Process improvement with Lean Six Sigma

Don’t automate a broken process - there’s nothing so useless as doing more efficiently that which should not be done at all.

Whatever approach you take, a first step in any successful improvement programme is to identify the most appropriate of your business processes to start with.

Considerations like the business need for the process, what volume the process handles and its stability can all help in identifying the most appropriate quick wins.

When using Robotic Process Automation(RPA), this is particularly important - for building confidence in both the technology itself, and its strategic benefits.

RPA delivers the biggest business benefits when used on process steps...

  • Which people do on auto-pilot.
  • Where human error causes issues(either frequent, small errors, or the occasional high-impact error).
  • Where the long duration to complete a task means that it can’t currently be carried out as often as the business would like.
  • Where there’s business risk from the potential loss of niche skills.

But what about the processes that are not yet ready for successful automation? Those with high complexity, where there are too many different routes through the process, those with poor stability, or those containing steps which will always need human input – like making complex decisions, or speaking with customers?

This is where the Lean Six Sigma approach to process improvement can have its most successful synergy with RPA platforms like Automation Anywhere.

Lean Six Sigma – How to look at a process, identify non value-add activities & eliminate them before starting automation

Lean focuses on reducing waste, defined as anything which isn’t of direct value to the process customer(s), including delays, errors and additional process steps such as checking.

Six Sigma focuses on identifying and removing sources of variation from a process, with the aim of optimising output quality. So - with a combination of the two approaches (known both as Lean Sigma and Lean Six Sigma), we can improve process performance and the customer experience.

Deployed together, Lean Six Sigma and Automation Anywhere RPA underpin optimum process performance – by designing out the complexity, input variation or errors which could otherwise cause automation to fail.

Process Optimisation – Automate what should be automated & improve what should be improved.

Combining Lean Six Sigma and Automation Anywhere has enabled Extra Technology to develop Process Optimisation - a single integrated methodology to streamline all your strategic operational processes.

The first step is to triage all the processes - based on the above criteria like business need, volumes and stability - and categorise them into those appropriate for automation and those requiring improvement. Then come the next two steps:

  1. Automate the appropriate processes using Automation Anywhere
  2. Improve the other processes using Lean Six Sigma, then automate those suited to Automation Anywhere


Both Automation Anywhere and Lean Six Sigma are established and powerful approaches for improving business performance.

When deployed together, their synergies deliver even greater benefits – which is why we’ve developed our Process Optimisation methodology, plus a range of training courses to build your people’s skills.

In this way, we enable you to optimise the performance of both your technology and your people.

Process optimisation enables the relentless and continual innovation required by rapidly changing business environments, as observed by Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chair of the World Economic Forum, in Davos last year:

“The bottom line for companies today is to understand their changing environment, challenge the assumptions of their operating teams, and relentlessly and continuously innovate.”

To discuss how this could match your process needs, please call or email us. Our contact details are below at the bottom of the page.

Sue Evans

Sue Evans is a Lean Sigma Specialist. Sue has over 20 years’ experience of delivering high value enterprise change programmes, by up-skilling and involving people from every level of the business, to design and embed sustained improvement.

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