As the world struggles in the grip of COVID-19, organizations around the globe are turning to Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to become more agile and respond quicker to increased demands and navigate uncertain terrains.
So, what is RPA and how can organizations leverage it to ensure their business fitness in today’s VUCA landscape?
In its basic sense, RPA means automating manual tasks that are rule-based, repetitive, laborious and time consuming. For further information and my own journey as a subject-matter expert of this technology, check out my article – What is Robotic Process Automation?
After being an integral part of several projects that required aiding developers to create bots, I have developed and furthered my understanding of effective RPA enablement and implementation. In this article I want to share these insights, to guide organizations who are looking to hone their business edge using RPA .
As we can see today, organizations across the world and across all verticals are under tremendous pressure to become more productive, cost effective and provide more value to customers. With organizations realizing the usefulness of RPA in helping them to meet these goals, the technology has become much sought-after.
So, how can organizations leverage this technology?
Implementing RPA in an organization comes with its own challenges and pitfalls, such as fragmented results, inconsistent results and struggle to keep up with the fast pace of data transformation. The only way around these pitfalls is to plan the entire process of RPA implementation which ensures that all the necessary checkboxes are ticked.
An effective RPA implementation in organizations happens in four stages that I have outlined below. Proceeding through these stages ensures that all drawbacks that usually follow are lessened to a large extent.
Stage 1: Project Preparation:
This stage is a very critical and crucial one because this is where the project expectations are set. The various roles and responsibilities of all the participants are determined. Risk identification and management is another key factor at this stage. A project timeline is decided upon and all concerns etc. are addressed in this stage. Realistic ROI expectations should also be determined at this stage as this is one of the greatest challenges to RPA implementation. It is very important that as many challenges as possible are addressed at this stage of the implementation process.
Stage 2: Process Identification for Automation:
Identifying the processes suitable for automation is pivotal in implementing robotics. Some questions that can be asked to identify a suitable process can be:
- Does this process require extensive human intervention?
- Does it have a low expectation rate?
- Are the processes repetitive?
- Does the process have high frequency/ high volume?
- Is the process stable? Is it predictable? Is it well documented?
These are just some questions which could determine the suitability of a process for automation.
Stage 3: RPA Preparation:
This preparation stage is critical to a successful RPA enablement and implementation. It involves creating a core team which will handle the process automation. This core team has to be trained in the automation tool identified by the organization as the best RPA tool for their process automation. The core team also decides the timeline of the automation along the lines of “what to automate, when and the reason to automate”.
Stage 4: RPA Implementation:
The final stage is the actual RPA implementation. When preparing for RPA implementation, one of the crucial factors is the IT Infrastructure. A major number of RPA failures occur due to the lack of proper IT infrastructure. While discussing RPA implementations, IT infrastructure is often neglected by the business leaders as it is assumed that RPA frameworks do not need any kind of IT support. Similarly, IT leaders tend to ignore the need for proper procedures for various aspects like operational requirements, technology capability etc. RPA enablement of an organization should be a joint effort by the business and the IT leaders of an organization.
Additionally, to ensure a successful RPA implementation organizations need to consider several things, such as:
- the creation of implementation roadmaps
- project planning
- documentation of the automated process
- the acceptance plan for the RPA solution that is to be implemented along with trained and experienced resources in the core team.
Fine-tuning these processes over time will ensure the effectiveness and maximum success of your RPA implementation. To summarize what I have elaborated in this article, the four stages that can lead to a successful RPA enablement and implementation are:
- Identification of the processes to be automated
- Researching the tools that would be suitable to the processes
- Researching the vendor capabilities
- Once a tool has been agreed upon, start with the project preparation
- Identify the team members and responsibilities
- Identify the risks, expectations and possible solutions.
- Decide on the guidelines for process usecase identification
Finally, from the processes that have been identified for automation, choose a few processes that meet the guidelines as process usecases and prepare the documentation for the benefits of automation.
I hope this article has helped ease your journey towards implementing RPA in your organization.