Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a rapidly growing market and still relatively new to businesses. If you're considering deploying RPA in your business and making the most of this simple technology, there are a few decisions you need to make first.
There are a huge number of benefits for implementing RPA in your business. These include cutting costs, boosting efficiency and encouraging innovation from your staff. But the introduction of these automation systems takes time and is not without its challenges.
That’s why if you're hoping to embrace RPA this year, there are several important factors you need to consider before you begin implementing this technology in your business. We’ve outlined these in more detail below to help you get started.
1. Careful process selection
Identifying and understanding which processes need to be automated is a crucial first step. After all, you're going to be investing a significant amount of time and money into this project, so you need to get it right. It’s going to take some careful consideration, but the best way to determine which processes are most in need of a revamp is to focus on the following three points.
- Suitability - take into consideration what processes can be automated, leaving room for flexibility and scalability.
- Value - what is going to be most beneficial to your business, but also your workforce? At this stage it’s helpful to think about which processes are the most mundane and time consuming.
- Risks - look into which processes are easiest to regulate and which could potentially face the biggest problems.
RPA systems are not set up to replace existing processes but rather to work in harmony with them to boost efficiency. Therefore, you need to put some thought into which processes will compliment your existing systems. Taking all of this into account, you should be able to decide which processes in your business will benefit the most from automation. Take your time with these decisions so you can be sure you get it right!
2. Setting up a Centre of Excellence team
Following on from the above, each business is different and there is no cookie-cutter approach for selecting which processes you should automate. As such, you might want to consider setting up a Centre of Excellence (CoE) team to help you assess and support your individual needs.
It’s likely you’ll be using a third party for your systems already and you might also be receiving tailored advice from a third party company. While this is a great, a CoE team means you have a dedicated in-house team that can work with these companies for you, to ensure the implementation and governance of your systems goes smoothly.
This decision is best made early on because if you choose not to take on a CoE team you may need to prepare to take on more of the workload yourself. Either that or you’ll need to select a dedicated employee to monitor its progress and raise any issues.
3. Scalability and flexibility
When selecting which processes to automate, businesses need to consider the platforms they choose to use and whether these are scalable. What this means is that if you increase your automated needs or want the systems to take on more work in peak times, they need the ability to be scaled up. This is something you should discuss with the providers and third parties when you're implementing your systems.
4. Changes to regulations
There are a number of processes which can be affected by changes in regulation. This means you may need to frequently update these systems, as well as ensuring that they are secure and meeting all the legal requirements. These may require extra investment and resources, so it’s best to decide early on if it’s worth automating processes that could be affected in this way, or whether to leave them as they are.
5. Working with staff, not against them
One of the biggest decisions you have to make is how you're going to introduce these processes to staff and how the two can work together. There has been a lot of scaremongering in recent years that robots are taking over from humans in the workplace. While this is not the case, some staff could be feeling put out by systems that can do their work more efficiently.
As such, you need to decide how to explain these processes to your team and ensure everyone involved has proper training. It’s a good idea to highlight the benefits of these bots for staff; they’ll take on mundane tasks, freeing up their time to be creative and innovative. So decide carefully how you’ll introduce RPA to your workforce.
6. Deciding which supplier to choose
As RPA becomes increasingly popular, more and more suppliers are popping up to meet demand. This means it can be tricky to know which vendor to work with. Before you begin you need to spend some time doing your research and getting in touch with a few companies to see who is able to best meet your needs (at the most reasonable cost).
It can be helpful to write down a list of questions to ask suppliers, or get in touch with third party automation experts for their advice. You’ll want to enquire about costs, scalability, data protection and how their technology can benefit your business. This will help you decide which supplier is right for you.
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