To get the most from an RPA solution, a lot of thought needs to go into deciding which processes to automate. You need to pinpoint which automation opportunities present the most value and then measure the benefits.
Working with Jaguar Land Rover in a consulting capacity, I’ve seen a continual backlog of automation opportunities within the company. People come to us and ask for processes to be automated – and before we say yes, we need to decide what the benefits are to Jaguar.
Planning and realising RPA benefits is a process in itself – and there are three things worth considering along the way.
Determine core objectives
Before choosing a process to automate, it’s useful to categorise whether the opportunity is actually beneficial to the business based on what you want to achieve.
- Do you want to save time? If so, consider how long it will take to implement and weigh this up against how much time it will save the business overall.
- What percentage of cases will the robot actually be able to handle? If staff are required to handle these exceptional cases, will a saving actually be achieved?
- Are you encountering compliance challenges? RPA can be an enabler for controlling your processes, and robots will perform the task the same way every day.
- Do you want to see analytics? Automating processes can improve data visibility by producing clear auditable process logs.
Do you want to improve employee engagement by enhancing work-life balance for staff? Particular automation processes can take long tasks out of the equation and increase staff retention as they won’t feel overworked.
The bottom line is – you don’t really want to automate everything. Choosing the right processes will help you identify the best ways in which to measure the success – as you’ll have a clear goal to compare against.
Engage all stakeholders
You will need to engage people when implementing an RPA solution. Too many companies treat RPA development as a siloed activity, assuming communications only need to be made between implementation staff and the single process SME (or just within the RPA team themselves).
However, encouraging engagement on a wider scale can make RPA measurement (and success) possible.
But first, ask yourself: Who are the people providing this data? And who takes data from the process? You need to determine who is taking the data “upstream” and receiving the outputs “downstream” and get these parties involved in determining what they want from the solution. If the people upstream don’t provide the data in the way the robot expects, the solution will be over before it begins.
Scaling RPA: before automating processes, improve them
Even greater emphasis is placed on people engagement when you consider the fact that it’s impossible to automate 100% of a process. At some stage, there’s always going to be unique cases that require conscious decision and human interaction.
Pushing the solution live as fast as possible isn’t the answer. You need people engaged with the process before, during and after to see results you can measure.
Measure and critique outputs
Is the solution reaching the level you expected? If not, you need to consider some of the potential reasons why.
This may come back to a lack of engagement within the team. For example, some staff members may be reluctant to use the robot or aren’t utilising it correctly – and you need to ascertain the reasons why before encouraging them to adjust their practices.
Don’t be an RPA tourist, implement effective change management
You also need to look at how many cases a robot might be rejecting. If 40 cases are running on a typical day, that doesn’t mean all of them are going through unscathed.
If the results aren’t quite what you thought they would be, there may be an error along the way that’s forcing the robot to push back (meaning 40 cases isn’t really 40 cases at all).
The right way to plan and deliver RPA
Taking the above into consideration will help you invest time in the right place when it comes to RPA systems.
If you’re doing this for the first time or finding that your RPA solutions aren’t delivering the benefits you expected, RPA delivery partners can help you overcome the challenges of implementing a solution.
Automation can be tracked, measured, managed and changed to ensure sustainable success – you just need to make sure you’re taking objectives, stakeholders and outputs into account.
Written by Fred Grover, Senior Consultant, Robiquity