Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is becoming more and more central to company strategy, as decision-makers across the business spectrum wake up to the enormous benefits automation can bring in terms of time-saving, increased efficiencies, and workforce flexibility.
Unfortunately, despite this increased investment in RPA, some organisations are still unsure how to get automation initiatives off the ground, discovering that there is quite a gulf between enthusiasm and adoption. Add to the mix recent predictions, which hold that the global RPA market is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of more than 27%, and is expected to cross $7bn by 2024. It’s clearly no good to simply be talking about RPA, you need to know what you’re doing.
Organisations that do their research, plan thoroughly, and realise what success looks like will always have a competitive advantage over the market and be better equipped to thrive in the future workplace.
Scaling RPA: before automating processes, improve them
With that in mind, here are four tips for anyone who’s keen to unlock the benefits of RPA in their business:
- Go big and you might go home. This might sound obvious, but many organisations fall into the trap of undertaking a project that is just too big and complex for their set-up and current capability. There’s nothing to say the project wouldn’t be possible a few months down the line, but sometimes you have to walk before you can run. On the other hand, some play it far too small ball, starting an RPA project with such a limited scope that it becomes very difficult to prove any meaningful return on investment. As a good rule of thumb, if you’re looking to introduce RPA to your work processes, choose something that can be automated in around 30 days.
- A good workperson… With the right project in the offing, you need the right tools to achieve it. From an RPA standpoint, that can mean many things. For example, assisted vs unassisted automation, hosted vs on-premise solutions, business configurable vs coded software; what will work best for your business? You need to get some expert advice and plan accordingly. In particular, consider the skill set of your team and how much support they will need when introducing RPA to your workforce.
- Risk or opportunity? Your human workers are the most important pieces of the RPA puzzle, and involving them in the adoption process as early as possible is a must. How do they feel about RPA? Do they fully understand the opportunities on offer or are they in a defensive mindset over perceived job risks? Instead of riding roughshod over the feelings of your employees, it’s well worth laying out the benefits of RPA not just for the business’s bottom line, but for them as individuals.
- Service, please. At the end of the day, you have to look beyond the ‘process’ part of RPA. Your project might be working very well in a vacuum, but consider the service you provide as a whole – are you improving this? It’s worth testing the business adoption and customer improvement as much as the tech itself. If there’s no noticeable impact, it’s time for some fine-tuning, and potentially making a plan to scale.
RPA predictions for 2019, from UiPath
It’s encouraging to see so many organisations realising that RPA isn’t ‘one to watch’ any longer – it’s a technology that is already revolutionising processes in everything from local government to healthcare. Now, as the conversation changes from ‘Are you automating?’ to ‘How are you doing it?’, those taking the time to plan and prepare are laying the groundwork for a combined human/digital workforce that delivers much more than the sum of its parts.
Written by David Biden, MD human+