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Looking for Part 1? Click to read Eliminating Human Robots From the Workplace Part 1.

The Foundations of a Successful RPA Implementation

Finding the balance between bots and human intervention leads to a successful RPA implementation. Both serve a critical purpose and, when used properly, can exponentially increase the benefits of the other.

First and foremost, when implementing an RPA solution, organizations need to focus on a structured implementation approach. For a successful RPA implementation experience, organizations should encompass the following key elements:

  1. Gain Stakeholder Support

To lay the initial groundwork for successful user adoption and implementation, start with your key stakeholders. Communicate the capabilities of the RPA and make sure they understand the situations in which the technology can work effectively. A quantifiable business case which outlines the financial and organizational benefits can provide stakeholders with a vision of what the completed implementation should look like and help build excitement during the development process. Clearly defining project goals and setting expectations will help promote cross-functional support, bolstering excitement and engagement to ensure stakeholders remain focused on project success.

  1. Dedicate a Project Team

Identify appropriate subject matter experts from across departments to bring together as a core project team. The cross-functional nature of the group will help establish and maintain support of the represented departments, and will also ensure a comprehensive approach to creating optimal designs. Define clear goals and objectives in advance, and develop a project plan to set and track expectations for the team. Work with each team member and the project sponsors to ensure sufficient time will be dedicated to drive the successful development and implementation of the RPA solution.

  1. Clearly Define Roles and Responsibilities

Promote effective teamwork by clearly defining roles and responsibilities of the project team, and ensuring each person understands their role within the project. Clarifying any misconceptions about capabilities and potential workforce reallocation to potentially impacted employees can go a long way in creating a smooth transition for team members joining in the project work as needed. Process owners provide critical insight on how a process works and how the future state should look, which will help with the efficient development of the RPA bot.

  1. Define future state processes and optimize current processes

Engage a cross-functional group of business process stakeholders to review the current state process and identify existing inefficiencies. Use this information to define and document new lean processes for the future state prior to the initial bot design. This documentation is very important and can help avoid changing designs during development, which may result in significant project costs. Implementing consistent stakeholder reviews can also help mitigate unexpected changes during the development and configuration of the RPA solution.

  1. Align the RPA Solution with Strategic Goals

Align the development and deployment of bots with the strategic goals of the organization. This will help the organization realize a strong return on the RPA investment (ROI); and it will also help support any other processes that the RPA implementation may impact.  

  1. Prioritize processes to be augmented by RPA

Conduct analysis on all of the repetitive manual processes currently being executed in the organization. Qualify and quantifying how many hours are being allocated to each area, assess the technology utilized, and document the resources required to support these processes. Review the complexity of each process to ensure automation is the proper approach. Prioritize each process or groups of related processes based on the estimated time commitment to implement a bot and the potential ROI associated with automation of the task.

  1. Identify solution providers based on requirements

Selecting the appropriate solution is predicated on having a detailed requirement listing of the processes to be automated within the organization. The solution select should be compatible with the organization infrastructure and technological strategy. Many cloud-based options are now available that offer complimentary services to traditional on premises offerings. Furthermore, select a solution that minimizes the need for ancillary software or middleware, ideally if you are able to implement RPA using a single platform the required maintenance and support will less intensive.

  1. Vendor demonstrations using a defined business case

Ensure that functionality and capabilities that are discussed during the sales process are feasible within your organization. When selecting a solution be critical of the software’s capabilities and have the vendor demonstrate the technology using scenarios that actually occur within your organization. Ask potential vendors to demonstrate basic and complex scenarios which are based of use case scenarios specific to the processes you wish to automate. These demonstrations will illustrate not only the software capability but also the ease of use and programmability. When conducting the demonstration require the vendors to provide a technical SME to attend the software selection meetings to address technical questions in real-time versus having to wait on answers from technical architects that may not have a full perspective of the process. 

  1. Select processes that are static and don’t change often

Before using RPA for a process, first consider if the process is really necessary. If not, eliminate the process altogether and operate in a lean state.  RPA will not fix broken processes, but it can improve efficiency of optimal processes that do not require high-level decisions. Consider if incorporating a necessary process steps a different area or technology might realize a higher return. Oftentimes automation may not be required if another system is being fully utilized properly. When implementing RPA select processes that are static and do not change frequently to increased efficiencies. If the bot will require continual updates ROI will diminish as the system requires extensive maintenance. While machine learning and intelligent processing has made significant advances, certain sensitive areas will require human intervention; also automating a process when other solutions exist maybe counterintuitive. RPA will not work in areas that require high-level decision making. This cannot be emphasized enough.

  1. Select your RPA software wisely

Avoid the need to have multiple tools running to accomplish a single goal to decrease the potential failure points. Using a single service solution will minimize the need for maintenance and aid in scalability when applicable. Try to avoid products that require multiple pieces of middleware or require some other form of intervention while being utilized. To ensure that costs associated with robot development are controlled, select a software solution that utilizes commonly known programing languages such as Python. Commonly known languages will allow for a larger resource pool to work on the development and maintenance of the bots.

  1. Finally, put in a strong governance structure

A strong governance model is required when implementing RPA technology. This model requires a robust monitoring process to ensure the detection of deviations in performance of the bots in real-time. RPA technology realizes a higher return on investment when the bots are running in peak performance and being able to identify degradation as it occurs will benefit the overall health of your bots. Develop reports and alerts to quickly illustrate changes in performance.

Dōmo Arigatō, Mr. Roboto

RPA technology is a great tool that can be used to save time, money and allow for the reallocation of resources to value added activities. When properly implement RPA eliminates waste, reduces errors, increases efficiency, and truly eliminates the human robot. While the technology is extremely helpful and beneficial to an organization, it can also be complicated if implemented without proper planning that compliments the organizations strategy. To ensure the effective usage of RPA and realization of the value of this tool, ensure that processes are optimized, clearly defined, and will benefit from automation. Automation of a poor process results in poor optimization. By leveraging a strong project plan capitalizing on a combination of technology, the expertise of subject matter experts, and robust governance your RPA initiative will thrive and deliver unimaginable results.

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