The number of companies which implement Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is growing rapidly. More than 80 percent of Global 2000 firms invest in automating their manual business processes. Your company could well have embarked on its RPA journey too. You might have even begun some RPA pilots within Finance, HR or Operations, delivering tangible results.
But after successfully implementing these cases of first use, you might ask yourself how you can do a further hundred. You ask yourself: How is that scale going to be? How to build a capacity for RPA to serve your entire organisation?
It is not so easy to deliver to that question. Only 13 percent of organizations in a survey had effectively scaled-up and industrialized RPA, with 27 percent moving to production and 34 percent still piloting, according to HfS Research.
Enablement and Support for RPA
The vast majority of RPA software solutions are' business-friendly' which means that automations can be developed without largely without coding or IT skills. However, a core group of RPA technical experts is needed to scale RPA automation across an entire company.
- Ensure an operational technical environment (e.g. virtual servers for RPA robots or desktop assistant robots)
- Works with IT to understand future infrastructure, system or applications change that may affect RPA automation.
- Testing of RPA automations to ensure compliance with safety and governance standards
- Training units and end users of RPA solutions
- Monitor robots act as an internal "help desk" for issues / questions associated with RPA
- Management of automation change requests.
The advantages of RPA automation can be enormous, not only for time savings but also for greater quality, consistency, compliance and engagement between customers and employees.
A large banking and financial services company, for example, wanted to be the lender of choice for car dealers. To do so, it needed to be quicker to respond to requests from dealers. Yet they were slowed down in their adjudication process. The company employed 10 full-time staff to manually sort loan applications into the work queue of the right adjudicator, based on customer history, credit rating, loan value and other parameters.
Implementing RPA, that did not require a drawn-out data integrations or any software coding, they were able to automate this process. The performance speaks for itself.
The financer reduced by 50 percent the time it took for adjudicators to collect, evaluate and assign loans; from 6 minutes to 3 minutes. Half of the FTEs assigned to this process were able to be redeployed, saving an estimated $250,000 per year. They also increased quality, eliminated human error, and reduced risk by preventing lenders from approving applications beyond their limits of authority.
Ultimately, they improved their customers experience, and became their region's lender of choice.
Implementing RPA Governance
A decision should be made regarding where the Center of Excellence will reside in the organization when considering the scope of the CoE services.
We see our customers adopting multiple organizational models:
- Centralized: The CoE performs all functions as a shared service centre. It's easy to enforce structure and standards but prioritization will be challenging. It is not unusual in this model because of the potential for a high demand for automation, some business units may not see their use cases chosen for automation.
- Federated: Here the CoE will provide a central platform for automation, establish standards and provide expert guidance and quality control. However, each business unit will perform RPA delivery itself, supported by the CoE if necessary. Each Business Unit can independently deploy RPA.
- Divisional: Each unit of the business will establish its own CoE. This approach is easy to begin with and has a minimum reliance on other units of business. The downside: standards are fragmented and it is possible to use multiple software solutions resulting in duplication of effort and headcount. That model is not going to scale well across a company.
With regard to RPA governance, you would like to consider carefully the decision-making rights for each organizational unit. Who has the right to decide to apply RPA to a particular use case? Who should be consulted in that decision to consider alternative approaches and risk and impact assessment for each of them? Find a way to get your IT Team involved here. You may have chosen to use RPA on a certain task while simultaneously migrating the application to an updated version that no longer requires a bot or human, to work on that task.
Who makes the decision to go-live with bots can be challenging in the federated organisational model. Is the business unit going to decide to bring the bot live or should the CoE make that call?
Finally, before RPA benefits can be realized your newly developed pricing model will require some upfront funding. Especially in a centralized model, where the RPA costs do not land at the same location as the benefits, there will have to be rules on such decisions and funding allocation. Examples of such rules vary between having a ROI for each RPA use case of less than 12 months or allowing business units to use the benefits of one use case to fund the second.
The Help Ensure Scaling Success Monitor These
Companies need to redesign their entire approach to be successful. EOLBREAK EOLBREAK Here are four ways to address the primary challenges of scaling RPA:
- Select an operating model strategy that will support the bots where they'll eventually run, keeping the end in mind. After the decision has been made to scale bots, whether you are managing the bots from the desktop computers of agents or a centralized production environment, the IT department should manage the configuration, software distribution and robot scripts; make available support staff and technical resources; provision and support security access; & track and respond to incidents. Configuring these processes takes time and effort, but presenting a clear operational strategy can help the IT department carry the project forward
- Develop a business continuity plan unless there is one on the spot. If systems go down, all of the software will stack and the bots will need to restart. Some companies are creating mirrored environments so that they can switch to them in case of extended system failures.
- Update Corporate Security Policies. Bots typically don't have an ID badge, manager, address, office or date of birth, which may be mandatory to comply with current corporate security policies. These policies should be updated to reflect the new complexity of having robots access corporate systems that traditionally require credentials from a human being.
- Realize that constant change is the rule for bots, rather than the exception. Internal IT remains responsible for technical changes related to bots in some companies, & the business units (finance, human resources, etc.) remain responsible for functional changes to the business process involving bots. This approach allows for speedier resolution. However, when third parties–such as RPA consultants, business process outsourcing providers, and/or vendors of tools–are involved, things become more complex. In these situations governance is often a major challenge. Due to the roadblocks in governance, RPA projects may not progress past development and test phases. The preferred approach is to establish a centre of excellence–typically within the organization of the company shared-services centre–with responsibility for RPA governance, policies, and selection of tools / sellers. Just as design organizations are bound to interact collaboratively with people, scheduling training that teaches employees how to best use bots, is instrumental in ensuring the understanding of how the bots operate.
Communication and Collaboration
Overcoming people's concerns is one of the biggest challenges when deploying RPA. Employees are afraid to get replaced. Managers wonder how the way they manage their teams will impact having RPA robot staff. Executives are worried they will not see the promised ROI.
The RPA CoE will have to coordinate the communication with Human Resources (HR), IT and the business units
- The company's automation goals
- The value this brings to its individual roles
- How the robots are managed
- Who they can turn to with questions and concerns.
The goal is to get the business units, IT, HR, line managers and employees are all on the same page and aligned in movements towards the same objective. We also have been there before. We corralled the company, and we were willing to work together to achieve a objective. We have achieved that before and we can do it again.
In this situation, the business units will need to take the lead in planning and developing an action-based change management strategy that will help ensure the implementation of RPA technologies and produce optimal business outcomes.
Creating a shared atmosphere between the sector and the RPA CoE can help maximize the scalability and technology implementation in the organization.