Robotic Process Automation: Critical considerations before you start
As this blog series lays out the many facets to robotic processing automation (RPA), we know RPA is one of the newest takes on automation using software bots within the front- and back-end office functions, and even involves implementing artificial intelligent bots, rapidly benefiting various types of businesses. But before chief technology officers can take the first step to implementing RPA, there are critical steps to consider outside of the technology itself and more about the culture within that sets up RPA for success.
1. Build a center of excellence
If your organization decides to achieve large-scale deployment with RPA, it is essential to build a center of excellence (COE) to spotlight long-term RPA strategy for applications and services management, aligning with changing business processes and technology needs. Assigning a specified team within the COE is crucial to its success. Typically, these teams include the architect, business analyst and program managers. The team size varies based on the budget and organizational priorities. The RPA COE develops business cases, helps with ROI, and measures progress against those goals.
2. Think about scale and operations
RPA has the potential to grow faster than the team can handle. We have seen scenarios in which companies deployed from fifty to hundreds of robots in year one. It is imperative to have a robot idea intake process that evaluates each idea, determines ROI and prioritizes it for the organization. This will help to build a pipeline of potential robots.
Another important item that must be considered is how these robots will be supported in production. You may run 'what if' scenarios, such as what happens if you get to twenty-five robots, or fifty robots, and so on. If you are using an external IT vendor, chief technology officers should nail down the robot pricing and support a model framework up front. RPA tools may not have enterprise dashboards. As an enterprise-scale IT services partner, our recommendation for large-scale implementation is to build an enterprise dashboard that gives visual reports of the robots' health in real time across the organization and allow the dashboard to take actions as needed.
3. Build the right RPA team
The success of RPA implementation depends on the relationship with the business operations. Since potential use cases will come from the business team, it is vital to have business and analyst individuals who understand the process and business as part of the RPA team.
In addition, pulling in a business process consultant as part of the RPA team is highly recommended. These consultants analyze the selected business process and optimize it before it's implemented. Business process optimization can happen on a technical level as well. For example, if users are taking data from a screen, the implementation team may decide to pull it from the database.
Also, key to any RPA team are architects and developers. This team will take care of building and implementing the RPA robots. Architects ensure that standards are followed and designed based on the best practices. Implementations will fail if they are designed poorly or changes are poorly managed.
4. Consider business politics
Politics is part of the corporate culture, and no company is an exception to this. RPA has a bad reputation as a headcount reduction tool. It has the potential of facing direct or indirect resistance at various levels and creating a more politically motivated situation. Companies seeking RPA solutions need to be careful when they project cost savings. We recommend that RPA should not be looked at solely as a headcount reduction tool. It has various other powerful benefits that need to be understood, explained and communicated.
What else is there to consider?
RPA adoption is growing at a frantic pace. Some RPA software vendors have experienced triple-digit revenue growth rates. The investment and time required to implement RPA is relatively much smaller than other digital transformation initiatives. The rapid adoption has created a lot of hype in the market, leading many organizations to jump into RPA initiatives without a proper ROI analysis, planning, defined strategies, COEs and unrealistically high expectations. Keeping in mind these careful considerations, and best practices mentioned throughout this blog series will help act against improper implementation.
The bottom line is that RPA is a promising technology and a tremendous opportunity for any organization. RPA allows for enterprises to remain efficient, productive and competitive by automating routine tasks at a large scale. If your business has not yet explored RPA, it is the right time to explore the possibilities.