A simple guide to initiate RPA in your company
As robotic process automation has become more mature in recent years to enable enterprise-wide application of the technology and the lowered barrier to entry, the willingness to initiate RPA initiatives has increased. This observation is something we, in Sofigate Denmark, have experienced first-hand with substantial interest from our customers in launching RPA initiatives. A general understanding of what RPA can and cannot do is starting to creep in, which in turn dampens the “fear of the robots”.
However, in Sofigate Denmark we hear about implementation approaches to RPA from customers and RPA enthusiasts that in many ways are dissimilar to other technology implementations. From our empirical data, we have recognised that RPA implementations often start as hobby projects and without much guidance. The fascination with modern technology paired with the ease of development makes it appealing for tech-savvy employees to do their own small proofs-of-concept (POC). But, hobby projects can be difficult to scale and show value in. Therefore, we propose five steps to make RPA a success in your organization.
Five Steps to a successful RPA Journey
- KISS – Keep it simple, stupid
This simple backronym, while a cliché, still works – also in the context of robotic process automation. If you start with something too complex without understanding the simple mechanics of the application, you will eventually become disheartened and possibly suspend your initiated efforts. Select a process that is simple in nature that you have a thorough understanding of already, possibly even process mapped. Starting small and simple improves the probability of a success story that can motivate you and your organization further. In essence, success is a series of small wins.
- Get your stakeholders engaged first-hand
A critical success factor for most technology implementation remains management commitment and support. This is also the case for RPA. Whether the managers are actively participating in the development of the robots or not, they need to be engaged in the initiative to raise it to a management level, so that it eventually can be spread to the corners of your organization. Having them see the application in use themselves can be a clever way to get buy-in early.
Engaging with other stakeholders, e.g. in accounting or HR, can help you demystify RPA as a perceived threat element because of uncertainty that has been increased by the media coverage RPA has experienced in recent years. When employees get to see with their own eyes how the automation of their mundane processes can be transferred to a digital colleague and free up their valuable time, they will echo your excitement for RPA to their management.
However, start with your peers and own management.
- Showcase the value realizations
Speaking of commitment from management. Business cases are usually created to legitimize POCs and pilots. While these business cases often serve as a valuable tool to convince management to invest in projects, they seldom receive the much-deserved second glance to validate the realized business value. If you do not follow up on your business case, it affects your credibility and ability to push an agenda in the future. Another aspect of business value realizations is the effective communication that it can enable. Our customers have had positive experiences with the walkthroughs of the realized benefits in department meetings, monthly meeting or similar to spread a positive vibe and induce inspiration in the audience.
- Create a structure
As you start small, start right. Enable scalability with an early introduction of a structure into your ways of doing RPA. Naming conventions, documentation templates and business case modelling are all eligible for standardization. Use this to your advantage and create consistency throughout the implementations. In addition, you will need to address governance and especially funding early to minimize the likelihood of your RPA journey going halt due to politics. We have seen on multiple occasions that funding becomes a disruptor for RPA because it has not been addressed early. Raise this issue at the beginning rather than later and you will have done yourself a favour.
- Utilize the power of replication
Another form of standardization is the reusable components in form of process/activity packages that can be designed once and used extensively in different automated processes. Whether you develop your own reusable components or benefit from the different communities or forums with pre-configured processes or similar, you will steadily improve the pace of your deployments. This gives you more time for the organizational implementation and continuous improvement on new and existing robots.
- Keep it simple, to improve the possibility of a success story
- Engage key stakeholder from the initial stage, to assure commitment and support
- Assure continuous value realization in your Business Case
- To ease scalability, introduce proper structure of how you are doing RPA
- Standardize processes and activity packages, to allow for replication
Hopefully, these five steps will support your RPA journey and help spread the success stories in your organization.
/Author: Mathias Trier Mortensen