8 Expert Tips for Successful Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Implementation

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According to a Deloitte Global RPA Survey from 2018, 1 out of 4 executives responsible for running transactional operations declared that increasing the level of automation is a top strategic priority.

More than half the respondents have already embarked on the automation journey, and by 2020 the number is expected to reach 72%.

If the process continues at this rate, RPA will have achieved near-universal adoption within the next five years. Hence it is quite likely that you yourself are also among the ones who have considered starting robotic process automation implementation.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the inherent uncertainties, don’t worry, you are not alone. We got your back, so you can continue reading some expert tips for successful RPA implementation.

How to make sure your RPA implementation is a success

1. Make a goal centred selection of the kind of RPA tool

One of the best practices for choosing the optimal RPA tool for your company is to start with a crystal-clear set of the objectives that you aim to attain. Automation projects often fail simply because expectations are not well aligned with what a particular RPA solution can do.

Therefore it’s highly recommendable that you think in terms of ‘good for’, and not merely ‘good’. A definite hierarchy of your company’s needs, goals, and available resources will help making the right selection. Remember that you can always ask a consulting company or BPO provider to assist you in the process of selecting the best fit RPA solution.

2. Run a comprehensive cost benefit analysis, to assess the economic viability of automation

Compare the investment with the expected return and allow this comparison to shape your decision. This assessment should be conducted per department in order to have a fine-grained understanding of the potential of robotic process automation in various sectors of your company. In order to specify your business case, involve relevant stakeholders in the process and opportunity scan.

3. Start RPA implementation with standard, rules based, mature processes

Cross-departmental back office processes are the best illustration, since 60% of those are high volume, repetitive, error prone and low fault tolerance, speed sensitive, and they have few exceptions and irregular labour requirements. Some more concrete examples are sales operations, customer due diligence, employee onboarding, data collection and validation, etc.

Before proceeding with RPA implementation, optimise the candidate processes so that you also improve customer experience. The idea behind all these steps is that, by establishing a solid foundation for the sky-scraper of enterprise wide automation, you maximise the likelihood of a successful endeavour.

4. Make RPA implementation a team work process

In other words, do not leave the management and the stakeholders aside, because their participation is key for effective long term development. They are the ones who can educate the employees as to what robotic process automation is, what it can and cannot do, and how it can make everybody’s life easier.

To this end, however, they themselves must be proficient connaiseurs of the nuts and bolts of software robots. Moreover, you should make sure that everybody in the team is fully aware of the impact of automation on the inner workings of the company.

A corollary of this point is the need to assess post-implementation changes in the organisational chart and to be prepared with ways to manage job redundancies and the subsequent need to upskill the human staff. As we mentioned in a previous article, gaining the confidence of people in your organisation is crucial for favorable outcomes.

The managerial framework is in fact necessary for successful implementation, in order to counterbalance the usual organisational resistance.

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Interested in this topic? We can put you in touch with an expert.

5. Do not leave the IT team on the outside

This is an immediate consequence of the previous tip. Try not to fall in the trap of excessive simplification and placing the automation project wholly in the realm of business initiatives. In the first place, the members of your IT team are the ones who can help you make the right choice of the RPA tool for your specific objectives.

Moreover, for a smooth road towards the expected benefits, you need to be able to count on the technical expertise of the IT department whenever unexpected issues or malfunctions occur. Ultimately, do keep in mind the fact that you may leverage their expertise for training other employees with respect to the automation lifecycle - we discuss this at length in an article about how RPA will change IT operations.

6. Don’t rush

Thoroughly test you major scenarios before you move on to the pilot phase. You should not forego testing in an overly enthusiastic drive to ‘get down to business’. For the pilot phase, you should configure and test the software robots, run a live pilot and perform and all-encompassing evaluation of results

It is easy indeed that, after a relatively short implementation time and after happily noticing fast ROI, you are driven to supplement the number of robots without carefully pondering whether the organisation can handle all the implications.

Successful RPA implementation often amounts to a post-implementation adoption process, which gives you the time to thoughtfully maintain an appropriate pace of the automation journey. Relatedly, try not to make the mistake of excessive optimism, expecting that scaling to enterprise level will come naturally after the proof of concept phase.

7. Choose an RPA governance model in accordance with your business targets

Assess the potential implications when you opt for a centralised, hybrid or federated model. Your choice should lay out in a clear-cut manner the responsibilities, duties and roles of each and every member of the RPA team.

Role transgressions may unnecessarily complicate things, which is why there should be no lurking questions as to what everyone is supposed to do. Last but not least, consider the fact that having a long term perspective that goes beyond the implementation phase will streamline the process.

For instance, for longer term and increasingly complex automation strategies directed towards enterprise wide platforms, you might start deployment of unattended RPA robots. The follow up of this tip is ‘be consistent with the chosen model’.

8. Ensure proper maintenance of the RPA project

The project might involve significant changes of the business processes. You ought to ensure that those changes align well with market and regulation changes, and that the potential risks regarding data and access security are acknowledged and properly managed.

Consider the likely benefits of oversight from an RPA centre of excellence that has a coherent, holistic perspective of the whole automation journey, and so it can be in charge of the whole installation. 

Conclusion

The high operational benefits brought about by RPA deployment call for high skill set requirements, whether we talk about business, IT, management or governance. Those are needed for accurate documentation of processes, actions and decisions, for fine-grained planning and monitoring of well-integrated processes, or for conducting the policies for automation scripts and automation methodologies.

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