Some critical areas you’ll need to understand prior to starting your automation journey
Many organisations struggle to take that first step regarding robotic process automation. The reasons for this reticence or hesitation may have its roots in the culture of the business involved or be related to the company’s ability to prioritise, what many consider to be a large IT Integration programme.
Many of the bigger consultancy companies like to “sell” an upfront 6-month programme that does a “drains up” on every process that may, eventually, be automated using RPA. This has the result of turning off many of the more capital or resource constrained businesses. Such legacy approaches can reduce the overall reality of Robotic Process Automation programmes as the only real IT projects that are able to deliver return on investment quickly outside of the main, generally slow moving IT Development priority channel, that is blocked by compliance or regulatory programmes always likely to be mandatory for any business.
However, The Robot Exchange are one of the new entrants into this market who have the ability to undertake the longer business discovery phase, but also, are prepared to deliver a flexible proof of concept for a company prevaricating on the usefulness of RPA.
Prior to undertaking your RPA Journey
The Robot Exchange have had extensive experience of dealing with different industries and different sized organisations, but there remains a number of foundations that each company will need to have in place to enable an agile and well supported RPA programme;
1. Building Consensus around RPA – Change Management is key
Change management around your people needs to be undertaken (at a high level) as soon as you start to think about RPA as a solution. Don’t underestimate the value that many of your people put on undertaking and delivering successfully the manual tasks that RPA will target to automate. You need to have a key set of messages as to why you are undertaking this (any vacuum around this will be filled with talk of redundancies), how the new future will be better for your people and how the technology will increase the success of the business in the market.
2. The importance of an engaged senior stakeholder
Another foundational piece is having an engaged C-Level executive, one who has a good emotional engagement with your people. It is key that, if issues occur with your RPA project, that stakeholder is able to understand and articulate what happened and how it would be resolved. One client holds a monthly RPA meeting where interested stakeholders meet to discuss the performance of existing automations, the projects in flight and also, identify any “backlog” automations. Regular trickle-down communications on the automation benefits to your people will pay dividends.
3. How do you calculate ROI?
Most clients will focus on a resource’s salary saved on their initial automation journey. Research has shown that Salary + 35% is a closer approximation as you add in facilities, recruitment and management costs. However, The Robot Exchange have identified a number of other softer benefits that clients should consider:
- Quality – Reduction in re-work
- Consistent productivity – No late nights out/sickness impacting work rate
- Strategic compliance – Prioritisation of work in line with business priorities rather than the work resources enjoy/get most fulfilment from
- More efficient operational processing – Robot working 24 hours a day reduces the 95 concentration of tasks
As RPA programmes progress, all clients start to look at quality and compliance improvements as their digital workers gain respect within their organisation.
4. Giving subject matter experts the time to manage RPA
Your RPA project will fail/or stumble if the company just layers on teaching the Robot how to process and what decisions it needs to make onto an already overworked set of subject matter experts. Subject matter experts are not only the people that will own the initial developments, any transformation of those processes but also, key influencers on whether the project will succeed. Expecting them to continue with all their other key activities while bolting on RPA will ensure an increase in stress and a reduction in the odds of success for your project.
5. How do we deal with a problem like the IT Department?
Another key stakeholder, and a potential barrier to success of your RPA journey, is your IT Department. The Robot Exchange have tried several ways of convincing IT Stakeholders that embracing RPA would do the following:
- Reduce the pressure they have from their business colleagues around smaller automations that have never and will never be prioritised to deliver. It seems unfair to criticise IT Operations for incidents on applications where the business has continually de-prioritised upgrades or bug fixes in favour of shiny new non-core applications.
- Make IT your first RPA success – The Robot Exchange have successfully linked customers IT Support Systems and automated user setup as well as automated and resolved support calls with password resets, access restrictions and many other mundane issues. Making this an IT project initially, could reduce the negativity and opposition sometimes experienced.
- Use RPA as a “one-off” migration tool. By using RPA on a successful migration activity, you will start to gain credibility as an implementation tool as well as a technology.
6. What processes to prioritise?
The Robot Exchange have created a specific scorecard that captures the stakeholder assessments, the complexity of the process and how well defined that process is. When you populate the people calculator, the scorecard will assess and then identify which processes you should prioritise.
Of course, ultimately, you will make the decision in terms of pain points or commercial strategies!
Access the scorecard here;