Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is not just a technology solution; it is a mindset. An organization's digital transformation journey should include considerations for automating operations and business processes to provide better, more seamless experiences for customers and employees.
Using RPA bots to perform standard, routine tasks is one of the easiest returns on investment a company can make - build it once and use it forever. In fact, according to Forrester, digital transformation initiatives in more than three-quarters of enterprises will focus on automation this year (TechRepublic).
Automation can lead to enterprise-wide efficiencies, creating more value as it unburdens employees from mundane work and allows them to focus on strategy and innovation. Yet the biggest deterrents to its success are a lack of understanding and a lack of imagination. Essentially, the mindset is just not quite there.
Despite this, Forrester says companies should plan to quadruple their investment in RPA and other AI initiatives this year. As discussed in How to Swim in RPA Without Drowning, we know this investment will generate the best returns if the governance and the internal ambassadors are in place first.
So how can you create an automation-first mindset across the entire enterprise? After all, it is the future of work.
Focus on the outcomes. Establish the desired business outcomes and work backward from there. This will allow you to determine where the bots fit best as well as where or when human elements are required. Knowing this from the start will ensure your people know how automation will complement their work to achieve the defined goals. An outcomes-based approach will ensure success and help your organization achieve its goals.
Ensure the right people are in place. RPA development requires a specific mindset. By ensuring the right people are in the right roles, the project will have the best chance for success. Far too often, we see businesses assume their existing IT staff can take on the task of RPA development. This is like putting a square peg in a round hole. While there is overlap, the skillsets of an RPA developer and an application developer are just different.
For example, a large financial services firm thought training their business analysts to learn RPA development would reduce hiring costs. However, after weeks of training and attempting to implement bots, the only results were lost time, resources, and revenue. This cost the company more than the initial perceived savings and the RPA initiative was abandoned.
Start with low-hanging fruit. Think about the tasks and processes that are highly manual and repetitive. These often live in HR departments or within finance and accounting teams. Consider processes that include data entry or review, and where accuracy is imperative. Highly manual and repetitive tasks or mature and predictable processes are prime candidates for your first few RPA jobs. Think high volume, high cost, and high ROI to start.
Use a Bottom Up and Top-Down Approach. An automation-first mindset is heavily influenced by leadership, but they don’t bear 100 percent of the responsibility. They set strategy and drive the vision, but it’s important to create an automation Center of Excellence (COE) to govern and deploy bots. This cross-functional team should represent the entire organization across multiple hierarchies and departments. As stressed in our previous post, this team is critical to RPA success and growth. This team not only serves as the automation ambassadors, but they also help scale RPA by seeking input from all employees. This governance team will naturally know the larger projects and processes to automate first, but only individual employees can identify smaller, daily tasks that would also make their work more efficient.
As you embark on this journey, remember that the initial role of RPA is to increase productivity and improve efficiencies. Over time, though, your RPA goals will shift from creating efficiencies to creating better employee and customer experiences. After all, that’s the purpose of today’s digital transformation projects, and it just so happens an automation-first mindset is the key to unlock it all.
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About Laura Hotalling
Laura Hotalling is Veracity’s Lead RPA Consultant and works within the Hyperautomation Team. She has been building automation solutions for nearly 20 years within the healthcare, financial, utility, marketing, and agricultural industries. Laura excels at translating technical jargon and bridging the gap between technology and business. She has created innovative, robust solutions that have increased process efficiency by as much as 95%. She is also a skilled data/reporting analyst and an expert in data transformation and system migration.
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