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7 Simple Steps to an Effective Robotic Process Automation 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 their 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 wholly and study how and where RPA could be implemented to reap maximum benefits.

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 limitations 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 launching 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 and be 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

Prince Kohli, CTO at Automation Anywhere, says that RPA implementations can be implemented in 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 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 your goals and the 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 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 your operations, within and across various departments, so 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, so the impact of automation can be rigorously tracked.

Error prone, low-fault tolerance, high volume, mature, company specific, or irregular labor 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: 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, from the top rung to the grassroots, must be taken into consideration. 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’s 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 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 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-grain analysis of the feasibility of RPA implementation per department. You basically want to compare investment against return and to decide, based on those numbers, to what extent it is profitable for you to invest in RPA. It is recommendable to involve the stakeholders in this evaluation.

5. Secure Endorsement from Stakeholders

It is crucial 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 organization. Management can be extremely 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” mindset, and having authority figures, i.e., the executives, as allies is conducive to this end. Their assistance is essential for dealing with peoples’ natural tendency to favor the status quo and resist large-scale, long-term changes such as those implemented by digitization.

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 the staff is able to not only maintain the current RPA project, but also come up with new suggestions for further rollout of the incipient programs.

7. Measuring Performance

Last, but not least, formulate key performance indicators (KPIs) so you can find out the success rate of your RPA implementation.

Although these metrics can vary from one organization to another, they generally tend to include:

  • Measuring how the deployment of RPA has impacted 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 any gaps left in the 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. This happens because of two major reasons:

  • They are not able to accurately assess the process for which automation is required.
  • They fail to get approval for RPA designing & integration.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is: 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 labor, but also on the assessment of the organizational 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 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 the right RPA vendor provides an efficient user experience, apt resource training to lower the technical entry-level, and 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 and load management to make sure 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, building, recording, and automating processes using predefined or custom templates.

Bottom Line: It’s hard to move your workplace around at home, but with a few simple changes to your routine and space, you’ll find that you can still work productively no matter where you’re working from.

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