Transforming business processes

When you hear the term Robotic Process Automation (RPA), what do you visualize?  Actual robots sitting at desks working?  More of a Jetsons, robot Rosie?  As cool as that sounds – when we are talking about RPA we are talking about “software robots”, think code. And these “software robots” are changing the way we conduct basic, standardized processes that is transforming roles in modern-day business.

With RPA on the up and up, you have already heard how this could benefit you and your organization – promises of cost savings, decreased cycle times and improved throughout, scalable improved accuracy and improved employee morale.  We are going through the same kind of technology revolution with automation as seen in farming during the industrial revolution.  Business have always looked for ways to improve, and to be more efficient.  Just as farmers said “there has to be a better way to do this” – they invented machines to automate their process to transform the farming industry.  Plows, seeders, weeders, sprinkler systems, etc. have all relieved workers from doing the mundane tasks so they can focus on tasks that bring a higher value to the farm.  They might have been able to focus on researching how to enrich the soil or how to save their crops from a frost instead of spending hours upon hours planting seeds or watering the crops


Deployment is critical

According to an Ernst and Young study 30%-50% of organizations that have tried to implement a RPA process in their organization have failed.  This has nothing to do with the technology; but more often the issues stem from the deployment.

So how do you make sure that your RPA innovation stays on track for success?  Here are a few tips:

  • Evaluate your current process: RPA mimics human actions that are predictable and repeatable. Take a close look at the processes you wish to automate and make sure that there are clearly defined rules and there are no bottle necks that would cause the robot to fail.  A process with well-defined rules “If A, then B” will be more successful.
  •  Prioritize potential: After you evaluate your current processes that your employees are executing you should have a good understanding of what is the standard.  Performing an opportunity assessment for the different processes will help you identify it’s potential for success.  Trying to implement RPA to a complicated process (regardless if it is standardized) might not be the right tactic.  Look to automate the highest value process or the easiest parts first.  RPA is scalable, you can increase automation over time.
  • Getting your organization on board: This includes the workers as well as the executives.  The workers are going to want to know how it affects them.  They may be worried; are they losing their job? A good communication approach is to position the change as enabling them to be freed up to do more meaningful tasks. Executives are going to want to see a business case on how it will benefit the business.  How much time it will save their employees? How many more tasks will the software robot complete?  Make sure that when you are building your business case you know the current costs/time it takes to complete the process, so you can demonstrate how investing in RPA will benefit the company and its workers.  Look for the low hanging fruit that will generate a win-win.  Employees will be happy they no longer need to do repetitive tasks they may dislike doing and executives will see how the process has helped/cut costs/saved time/processed more for the organization.

Process changes can be challenging to roll-out.  The key is to highlight the benefits for all levels of an organization and gain buy-in from all impacted groups.