Successful implementations of Robotic Process Automation can transform the fortunes and prospects of an organisation. Careful decisions made along the way can make a big difference to outcomes, and the rewards of a well-conceived and well-executed RPA project keep on paying dividends. Here we identify some key recommendations, summarised from the experiences of businesses all over Europe. These principles will save you some time and effort and reduce the risk of wrong turns as you prepare to implement RPA.
Adopt a Centre of Excellence (COE) approach to automation. 52% of companies surveyed for SSON’s Global State of Intelligent Automation Market Report 2020 identified a lack of knowledge on IA tech as a common challenge to implementing IA solutions. The main purpose of a Centre of Excellence (COE) is to oversee, monitor, and review technical training and upskilling. This is important because RPA is not a silver bullet even in knowledgeable hands. A robust COE approach includes process analysis, coding practices, re-use of assets and knowledge routinely shared amongst colleagues to build internal capability and support and ensure long-term RPA competence.
Select the right process to automate at the right time It is too easy for organisations to shy away from RPA after an initial pilot project, considering their fingers to have been burnt. But the leading root cause for IA failures is a poor choice of process for the pilot. In order to lay a foundation to build upon with confidence, you must walk before you can run. Select a simple process – a standardised process – one for which there is plenty of documentation to ‘teach’ the RPA with. Avoid processes that are already in need of vast improvement for the pilot – RPA won’t make a bad process better just by automating it.
Use complementary tech to enhance the usage of RPA Gartner predicts that by 2022 80% of RPA-centric automation implementations will derive their value from complementary technology. Meaning that – far from being competing tech solutions each set to accomplish siloed tasks – RPA should sit right in the middle of document capture, optical character recognition, Business Process Management (BPM), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and decisioning software, and be enhanced by them all to create enterprise-grade process workflow automation. Within this synergy of automation, qualified end users can adjust business rules without further development or maintenance. Analytics is power Intelligent Analytics points to robust business decision making and Management Information dashboards are definitely not just for show. According to the Social Science Research Network 65% of people are visual learners – who will engage better with compelling data visualisations. Organisations need user-friendly and accessible representations of bot performance as RPA beds in. This includes exception and error handling, real-time benefits and capacity forecasting. Performance reports indicate improvement opportunities and thereby improving business awareness and resilience.
Tackling global changes – How RPA has brought forth opportunities from challenges
In recent years, organisations have had to deal with a quick succession of new data regulations, business bureaucracy and worldwide emergency. RPA has proven itself equal to the tasks:
GDPR (adopted 2016, enforceable from 2018) became an opportunity for organisations to put into practice the generation of reports based on simple business rules – facilitated by RPA bots – in support of compliance and thereby reducing cost and human error.
Brexit has brought about a huge surge in ‘paperwork’ and claims, which means huge requirements for access and retrieval of data from applications and emails. RPA is perfectly placed for this kind of high-volume data retrieval duty and accurately sharing it with onward systems.
As Covid-19 disrupted everyone’s lives, organisations turned to RPA to accelerate research and to address work backlogs using a digital workforce. ‘Digital by default’ organisation used RPA to enable the sharing of documents and automation of processes for the benefit of remote working teams.
At the other end of a successful RPA project is resilience. So long as your Centre of Excellence maintains high standards in training and upskilling, your organisation shouldn’t be blindsided by the next crisis. So long as you select the right process – without expecting a gigantic revolution from your pilot initiative – you won’t set your organisation up for disillusionment. Connect and workflow associated tech solutions to make RPA even more useful. And monitor EVERYTHING!