Start your introduction of robotic process automation (RPA) with a plan – it does not have to be detailed, but it has to be deliberate. Otherwise at least six people are going to endanger it…
We’ll get back to them shortly.
Robots have become too easy
Seven-year old kids learn to code in school, using visual coding languages. It’s become easy to program and control robots. And we see that in the workplace as well. Having processes automated by software robots is not new, now its just become so easy that it’s almost commonplace.
Once it was the geeks that could do real coding or the nerds that did Visual Basic in Excel who ruled the automation efforts and did macros that moved information from one system to another. Today, it’s the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) bots that do the job – configured by the people who have spotted an automation possibility, and not by a selected group of IT experts.
With evolution has also come more powerful bots, ones that can handle way more complicated tasks than a macro, ones that can increase their accuracy through Machine Learning, and to some degree bots that can apply Artificial Intelligence in their solving of tasks.
The challenge is… it’s become too easy!
This means software robots now appear at random places in the organization, often without the involvement of IT – yet, when users face a problem with their robot, they call IT for support… of a solution IT knows nothing about.
To illustrate our point, follow us as we visit the previously mentioned six stereotypes that you may recognize from the world around you. These have come about, based on our long experience in process optimization and navigating large organizations. Each stereotype come with their own approach and background for interacting with robots in the workplace, which again has its benefits and risks. We know they are somewhat exaggerated, but they’ll help build the case for why organizations need to make deliberate choices – in other words; plan ahead.
The six people that can mess up any robot initiative – if not properly involved
Include the right people in your plan – and consider 5 focus areas
It is important to keep in mind that each of these characters want to do their best – for the company and themselves. They come with different baggage and that’s why they approach the robots (or automation in general) in different ways. But if they keep doing it individually, they will fail. They need to work together as a team. They need to have a plan. It doesn’t have to be lengthy elaborate papers that takes week or months to finish, but it needs to be a thought-through plan that covers the most important aspects.
Here’s our take on five areas to consider and include in your “go-to” plan towards introducing robotic automation in your organization:
You need to consider why you want robots – is it a quick ‘trial and error’ attempt that, if successful, you scrap and redo, or is it a lasting solution that needs to properly integrate with your other systems for the long term. Is it a short-term headache you want to address or are you looking for long-term improvement and efficiency?
As evident from our stereotypes above, then not everyone will embrace automation with the same enthusiasm and understanding. How do you intend to address the uncertainties automation initiatives will bring about? The good news is for instance that even AI bots needs to be fed with new knowledge, so maybe upskilling is needed? How will you answer all these kind of questions from employees – and how will you become aware what their questions are?
Make sure you select a tool that suits your purpose, people, and processes. There is a difference in running a short-term proof-of-concept pilot versus implementing a lasting solution. Consider license fees, so you make sure your solution does not end up more expensive than the problem you wanted to solve. And how scalable does it need to be?
Is your process already optimal and does it deliver well enough for your customers? If your human colleagues cannot execute the process, then a robot won’t be able to either. This means relevant documentation and a common language (operational definitions) needs to be in place, so you can instruct the robot to deliver the outcome you seek.
What are the governance structures in your company, who do you need to involve before buying, implementing, turning on your robot? The governance is in place for good reason, so that independent initiatives do not endanger the overall good of the organization. It’s not red tape for the sake of being cumbersome, so take in all the help that is included in your governance structure. Especially in today’s world where GDPR compliance and audits are more popular than ever!
Before you embark on a plan encompassing these five points, you need your key people – maybe one of our six stereotypes? – to realize that there is a need for a plan. They have to be aware that when they, individually, start thinking robots, they also need to think “plan” and “cooperation” – Molly has to connect with Paul, Ardy needs to assist Larry etc. Together, they need to build the plan.
Awareness comes through communication and interaction. For example, do a campaign: “no robots without a plan” in order to get people talking. Remove uncertainties. Foster collaboration.
If you are considering – or you believe some of your employees or colleagues are considering – introducing automation, do reach out. If you have already started and have in place your first robot, but you are uncertain where to take it from here, reach out. Have you hit a dead-end with a failed automation attempt, contact us.
In Sofigate we have broad experience in optimizing and automating processes, and we’ll be happy to assist in your efforts and create a thought-through plan together.