Robotic process automation solutions can fit and scale with any business, but successful adoption and execution require planning and expert advice. Follow these steps to understand where RPA can make the most difference to the business, drive the greatest ROI and make your business ready for the AI world.
1. The data behind a successful RPA
RPAs are a form of office and data automation that repeat tasks that are usually performed manually, or help transfer data between services that don’t link together. Just because RPA might sound simple, there can be complications, and some projects have even failed, so preparing correctly is vital.
Data preparation remains a key challenge to any organization adopting RPA. As businesses try to gain more insights from their data, accessing it in new forms is key, especially when moving old systems to modern digital services.
There are many different types of source material where data needs to be copied to other formats, from spreadsheets or emails, the digitization of paper-based documents, or where an endless series of regular calculations need to be made. An RPA expert can identify what types of data stream and workflow work best and how the process can best be implemented.
2. Saving time with RPA
As well as helping the business leverage its data in more useful ways, RPA is also a key time saver. Across many business departments from finance to HR, production and IT, too much time is spent on gathering the essential data or information, copying it into the right format and making it consistent in the correct location.
These tasks are often disliked by workers at all levels as it distracts valuable personnel from performing more important work and eats up a substantial amount of departmental time while producing the minimum of benefit. The time saved with RPA can allow workers to spend time on more high-value tasks and projects, and to encourage the business to find other areas where savings can be made.
3. RPA initiatives should come from the top down
With all businesses looking to save time, money and work more efficiently, IT leaders and business managers are on the hunt for tools that can help automate many of these early-stage tasks.
The CIO should lead the way to adopt RPA and similar tools. To hand-off mundane and highly-repetitive tasks is high on the agenda as other parts of the business move to faster digital processes and focus more on providing added value and customer satisfaction.
Some companies may already have piloted an RPA, or are evaluating how it could work. Therefore, it’s a practical idea to check with the in-house IT team, department or function. Getting them onside early helps avoid pushback throughout the process as they may protest against shadow IT - where each department grows their own portfolio of services and products. It’s also worth liaising with the HR department to see if they have plans for change management in terms of employee responsibility caused by automation.
4. Partner with experts to avoid RPA problems
As with any task, getting an expert involved can save huge amounts of time and avoid basic mistakes. Whatever your business plans for RPA are, the next step in implementing an effective solution is to find a partner that can deliver the RPA software and help with the transition to installing and operating the new process.
Finding a partner that understands the nuance of RPA processes for your line of business is vital as some service providers will try and shoehorn their generic application into your systems, only to find that it won’t meet your requirements.
5. Testing and backups are essential
Having consulted with your RPA partner, mapping out the processes that you would like to automate will help make for a smooth creation and deployment of the RPA bot. As with any first-launch rollout, keeping the original process running as a backup until early results prove a sufficient level of success and reliability is a pragmatic step to take.
Before the bot runs you should have metrics and ways to measure success, allowing department heads to present a clear win to the board. For further projects, ensure they’re identifying efforts that meet the overall business needs, and will provide worthwhile results in terms of ROI, time saved, and with the right level of accuracy required.
6. The side benefits of RPA
Robots have automated many vital but mundane tasks across huge numbers of businesses:
- Operating 24/7 where needed
- Delivering cost savings
- Saving worker time,
- Enabling personnel to focus on high importance and high value knowledge work or other tasks
Using of RPA can also help bring previously outsourced tasks back into the company, allowing you to keep control of data and not rely on third-parties to perform relatively simple tasks.
From a successful run with the first batch of RPA processes, other opportunities can be identified and considered. Through this success, the rest of the business will view the early adopters as progressive and in tune with the move to a digital business.
RPA is often touted as an easy win for business, and with a little expertise, it can be that way. However, in the era of as-a-service and do-it-yourself-IT many companies may be tempted to try it on their own.
As with any job best left to the professionals, non-experts trying to run their own network, install their own double glazing or market a product can risk missing important safety steps or use guesswork where expertise would take only a few minutes to solve a query.
RPA provides huge benefits for all types of business and provides a valuable service when deployed for the right use case.