Delivering Success with RPA

By : |November 21, 2019 0

“First get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats, and then they can figure out where to drive it.”, says Jim Collins in Good to Great.

Putting the right people in the right job is imperative for driving superior financial performance. Most organizations have people executing routine tasks that could more efficiently be done by robots. This, in turn, would free up resources in enterprises to do better value-added tasks where human intelligence is imperative.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a hot topic amongst enterprises. In 2019, 24% of large enterprises worldwide have reportedly adopted RPA in comparison to 9% amongst SMB’s. Expectations for RPA spending is only increasing and expected to be growing at over 60% this year, reportedly making it the fastest-growing enterprise software category.

And despite this background, most enterprises are still viewing this technology with scepticism. There are several questions around ROI’s on the one side while having internal adoption challenges due to fear mongering of losing jobs on the other.

Nevertheless, RPA is becoming a mainstream conversation in most technology discussions. Numerous factors are driving RPA adoption. Moving beyond just accelerating tasks, this has now become a strategic business transformation lever.

Industries across the board, have adopted RPA to automate hundreds of processes, delivering superior stakeholder experiences as a result of faster process turnaround while at the same time, reducing the cost of the process. RPA has also seen growth coming from global in-house centres/ shared service captives who have leveraged the solution to significantly accelerate the pace to growth.

The patterns emerging from the study of most organizations that have successfully adopted RPA leads us to the following good practices, which if followed well, could ensure ROI’s as per stated expectations.

Defining the right business strategy for RPA

Several organizations implement RPA for just one or at best a handful of processes. RPA delivers tangible value when implemented at scale. Utilization of bots to their maximum capacity, thereby ensuring the realization of returns, is best achieved when implemented at scale across functions.

RPA is solving business challenges via process transformations and not via technology. Ensuring that processes are optimized prior to removing redundancies becomes critical to make this transformation happen. RPA, therefore, needs to be strategically positioned in the organization to enable it to deliver returns in the form of financial performance improvement and driving shareholder value.

Identification of processes for automation

RPA is not a technology project but more a business function project. Typically, RPA is considered for back-office automation – the reality is that RPA can deliver great efficiencies for processes such as customer service, sales as well as production processes. The following process attributes can help ascertain the suitability of a process for automation through RPA:

High Volume & Error-Prone: One of the key benefits of RPA is the reduction of human effort hence organizations should look to automate high volume processes. Also, error-prone processes derive better benefits with automation.

Rule-Based: RPA is best for processes which are rule-based, routine and repetitive in nature. Processes which are not very dynamic in nature require fewer bot upgrades which lowers the overall process complexity.

Speed-Sensitive: Any process that has an impact on customer experience and customer service are good candidates for automation, as automation could bring about increased process agility and improve turnaround time.

Supporting change management

The success of RPA implementations depends immensely on getting stakeholder buy-in, sponsorship from senior management and talent management for change. Delivering the right messaging consistently, during and post this transformation is key to ensuring adoption.

Stakeholder buys In:

Automation as transformative as it is, this must-have sponsorship at the management level to make the change happen. Enterprises that have been immensely successful with RPA, typically have the CXO’s and CEO sponsorship to drive this change. They must see RPA as a strategic business project.

Removing automation resistance in your business teams:

Business users must be an intrinsic part of the project organization and governance. Misconceptions around job losses amongst others should be addressed early on to ensure that users actively support the project implementation and change management. This also requires addressing re-organization and talent management to train people to work in the new business environment where they could deliver far more value-added tasks.

Continuous reinforcements via messaging

To keep the momentum going for RPA, there must be a series of messaging that communicates the positive impact RPA is making to people and the processes they work with. Enterprises who do this well, ensure that the very people who have tasted success with RPA lead this messaging for their peers and functional users via all-hands and other meetings from time to time.

Program Governance

RPA technology has a wide-reaching impact potential and is therefore not limited to a certain function or a team. In fact, even a single large automated process will more than likely touch several parts of an organization.

It is therefore important to consider how automation and its governance fits in terms of organizational, digital, and IT roadmap. Implementing RPA is an initiative, not a series of stand-alone projects. For this reason, dedicating an internal delivery team is critical to success.

When RPA is taken at scale, it would become imperative to build the right COE organization that is equipped with functional and technology stakeholders acting as champions for their respective functions and spearheading the change management. Picking the right people for this role is critical as it requires a fine balance of both business skills as well as open-mindedness of what technology can do in the form of transformations.

An internal core team responsible for automation will vary depending on the company goals, organizational dynamics, and expertise available. In general, this team of “champions” is comprised of an executive sponsor, an IT representative, and key employees from the line-of-business (LOB). This team is ultimately responsible for:

• Leading the automation

• Establishing an Automation Center of Excellence (CoE).

This team would have a set of clearly defined roles and responsibilities and is charged with implementing and managing the automation as quickly, as efficiently and as safely as possible throughout the enterprise.

RPA COE likely will face challenges related to cross-departmental collaboration and requires a governance framework that determines participation and interaction among different departments and establishes protocols and prioritization for managing and sharing knowledge.

RPA As a Platform Approach:

The requirement for effective governance arises from seeing RPA as a platform, rather than just another automation ‘tool’. The ‘tool’ view sees RPA being complemented with advanced cognitive automation tools for machine learning, image recognition, natural language processing. Several organizations today adopt a platform capability with over 92% adopting server or cloud, as opposed to desktop, deployment to support enterprise-wide scalability and strong security.

Automation has immense potential to change the way that businesses operate. Business process transformation has become a reality with RPA. Getting this done well requires strong leadership. The good news is that RPA is all about processes and not so much about technology. It, therefore, drives the power back to the hands of business users who can lead such transformations.

A quote by Sun Tzu goes “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy are the noise before defeat”. Enterprises who have seen success with RPA have focused on impeccable execution, in addition, to focus on strategy and tactics.

By Srividya Kannan, Founder, Director – Avaali Solutions Pvt Ltd.

RPA

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