7 Steps to an Effective Robotic Process Automation Strategy
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) frees up employees working on high-volume, repetitive jobs and allows them to be redeployed on strategic tasks that have greater added value for the firm. We take a look at key steps to implementing an effective RPA strategy
Today, robotic process automation software lets you quickly launch bots to handle repetitive processes in the workplace. However, RPA needs an effective strategy to be implemented properly.
Robotic process automation or RPA has the power and capability to help organizations increase their output and accelerate their digital transformation agenda. The true benefit of RPA rests on the technology's ability to increase efficiency while reducing cost. It's no surprise that RPA is gaining traction in the market. It takes away repetitive manual tasks from the human workforce and frees them up to focus on more critical strategic functions.
However, businesses are merely deploying RPA as an add-on feature to existing systems within the operations to bring about quick improvements and speed up processes along the way. For many smaller organizations, this type of quick deployment may be sufficient. But any solution or RPA integration that is hastily put together may not be suitable or sustainable for larger organizations. As such, businesses are better off taking an enterprise view of the RPA, which is capable of sustained, long-term benefits and excellence in operations. And to do that, companies must take their time to understand their business processes truly and study how and where RPA could be implemented, to reap the maximum benefit.
By taking the enterprise approach, businesses would also be able to address other challenges that typically come with implementing any new transformative initiative. They could better prepare their human workforce to deal with and manage changes. Beyond that, companies could also devise risk management strategies and solve potential technical limitation that might impede adoption.
According to KPMG, multiple businesses across different industries, “are uncertain where and how to begin to transition to robotics and cognitive automation systems.” This uncertainty accompanying robotic transformation may impact up to 78% of companies, with 40% not using RPA at all and another 24% only considering it. Without the right RPA strategy and roadmap in place, you run the risk of running a poorly optimized automation campaign. You’ll want to avoid the pitfalls such as slow deployment, automation misuse, and lack of clear KPIs to measure success. Businesses today need automation to scale their best.
What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?
In simple words, it is a technology that employs computer software equipped with bots to perform tasks by emulating human actions. Primarily used to automate the mundane repetitive and high amount activities. RPA works efficiently by capturing data, interpreting responses and communicating with other connected devices in an organized and systematic manner.
Robotic Process Automation Strategy
CTO at Automation Anywhere, says that RPA implementations can be a matter of weeks, not months or years. He attributes that to the growth of RPA platforms designed for business users, as well as preconfigured bots for commonly automated processes, which can also trim lead time to deployment.
Robotic process automation is even being adopted in the healthcare sector. Gartner predicts 50% of healthcare providers will invest in it in the next 3 years, up from 5% today.
Most experts consider automation a long-term journey. Yes, you can get up and running quickly with many of the RPA software platforms, but don’t confuse the ease of use that multiple RPA vendors strive for with plain easy. Just launching a bot doesn’t mean you’ve already crossed the finish line. As with other forms of automation, RPA needs an overarching strategy. Measurement and optimization are key. RPA success depends on sustained, serious attention to the goals and results of your efforts.
Steps to an Effective Robotic Process Automation Strategy
The steps below are meant to help you design an appropriate plan to approach the digital mode of doing business, and to make the most of RPA implementation.
1. Identify the Process
When it comes to RPA software implementation, selecting the right set of processes to automate, holds the key to success. To do this, you need to carry out a thorough assessment of all the operations, within and across various departments, so that you can determine which particular processes can prove to be good candidates for automation. Nonetheless, as most businesses operate in a complex and sensitive environment, conducting such an objective analysis becomes nothing short of a challenging task.
Since software robots are largely designed to handle tasks that allow a clear formulation in conditional format, rule based processes are the primary candidates. Processes that can be evaluated against a known cost and/or time basis should also be considered, because their savings are measurable and so the impact of automation can be rigorously tracked.
Error prone, low fault tolerance, high volume, mature, company specific, or irregular labour demands are other features that can help you make an efficient process selection. It might be useful to know that as many as 60% of back office processes have such features.
Prior to implementation, you can also consider process improvements, i.e., simplification, reductions in the necessary programming and auditing effort, enhancement of customer experience, etc.
2. Managing the People
Even though it deals with automation, implementation of RPA is all about managing the people. The organization right from the top rung to the grassroots must be taken into confidence. To begin with, a compelling case has to be built for the company’s leadership to take notice. They must be informed about the need for automation, its essentiality, and how it is likely to influence the return on investment (ROI).
Once this is done, the next step is to convince the employees. A lack of proper understanding on their part can lead to the fear that robotic process automation implementation might take their jobs away. The unease that accompanies automation is genuine, and that is why it needs to be adequately addressed by having open and honest discussions.
Talk to the staff about what automation will bring. RPA would only work as a process of filtering out redundancy and improving productivity. It would never be allowed to replace their jobs.
3. Choose the Right RPA Tool For Your Company
The first thing on your to do list is to have a crystal-clear set of objectives that your company aims towards. Two sets of criteria should help you to make an optimal choice regarding the RPA tool you will work with.
On the one hand, you should consider vendor related criteria, such as their experience or their orientation to future-proof automation solutions. On the other hand, you should try to match the RPA software features, like security and screen scraping capabilities, ease of implementation, total cost of ownership, etc., to your company’s hierarchy of goals and needs.
4. Assessment of Economic Profitability
This step refers to a fine-grained analysis of the feasibility of RPA implementation per department. You basically want to compare investment against return, and to decide based on this to what extent it is profitable to invest in RPA. It is recommendable to involve the stakeholders in this evaluation.
5. Secure Endorsement From Stakeholders
It is crucial that those involved fully acknowledge the benefits of RPA for your business. The most effective automation projects are those that have full support from the people in your organisation. The management can be very efficient in raising employees’ confidence that RPA is an opportunity and not a threat.
You certainly want to stay away from the stereotypical "Robots will steal our jobs", and having authority figures, i.e., the executives, as an ally is conducive to this end. Their assistance is essential for dealing with people's natural tendency to favour the status quo and to resist large scale, long term changes such as those involved by digitisation.
6. Educate and Train Your Employees
A long term perspective of the automation journey facilitates decision making at all steps. One of your primary goals should be to ensure that the staff is able to not only maintain the current RPA project, but also come up with new suggestions for further rolling-out the incipient programs.
7. Measuring the Performance
Last but not least, formulate key performance indicators (KPIs) based on which you can find out the success rate of your RPA implementation.
Although these metrics can vary from one organisation to another, they generally tend to include:
- Measuring how the deployment of RPA has affected the back-office processes.
- Finding out if the productivity of employees has increased by comparing the time in which RPA finishes a task with the time in which human workers perform the same function.
- Calculating the accuracy of the output, which ideally, should have increased to a hundred percent.
- Analyzing the compliance reports of RPA, i.e., the efficiency with which the bots are adhering to rules and regulations.
A candid assessment would highlight any possible discrepancies and give you sufficient time to rectify them. After the completion of the incubation period, more such evaluations based on these yardsticks should be carried out, so that any gaps left in the successful RPA implementation plan can be timely identified and corrected.
Struggles with Robotic Process Automation
Even though companies today have acknowledged the importance of RPA in improving their process efficiency, most businesses struggle with RPA implementation. And this happens because of the major two reasons:
- They are not able to accurately assess the particular process for which automation is required;
- Or they fail to get approval for RPA designing & integration.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that you are more likely to enjoy the full benefits of successful robotic process automation implementation by following a certain strategic path, with a business process design that is well suited to your goals.
A nested goal hierarchy and a long term plan for attaining those objectives, consideration of the business impact based on objective measures like the ROI of labour but also on the assessment of the organisational climate, or an adequate rate of putting software robots into action, are some of the factors that smooth the way towards success.
For proper implementation of Robotic Process Automation, a business needs to blend diligence with skill. Considering the massive importance and benefits of RPA solutions in reducing efforts, improving customer service, and increasing profits, it becomes pivotal to ensure that every step is duly scrutinized, vetted, and backed. Given that the implementation of RPA in an organizational change initiative, it is crucial for every stakeholder to closely follow through with an implementation roadmap, even after initial successes. It is vital that the right RPA vendor provides the efficient user experience, apt resource training in order to lower the technical entry-level and finally an RPA platform outfitted with strong features.
The RPA platform should be able to ensure things like first-class operational support for constant monitoring and troubleshooting of bots, load management to make sure that robot usage is optimal across processes, performance metrics, and full audit trails. You can have access to these features and more using BotPath. It is the best automation tool for extracting data and building, recording and automating processes using predefined or custom templates.
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