How To Get The Max From RPA (Robotic Process Automation)

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) isn’t sexy (the name alone testifies to that). Still, it’s one of the hottest sectors in the tech market.

Why all the interest? RPA enables companies to automate routine processes, which can reduce costs quickly and allow employees to focus on more important tasks. The technology also reduces errors and helps improve compliance.

Oh, and there’s something else: RPA can be a gateway to AI. This is because automation can help find patterns and insights from the data, as well as streamline input using NLP (Natural Language Processing) and OCR.

Nevertheless, you should definitely be careful when implementing it. Remember that there are still a lot of mistakes.

So let’s take a look at a few things to consider to improve your chances of success:

Learn more about your current processes: The rush to implement RPA will likely mean getting below average results. First, there needs to be a thorough analysis and understanding of your current processes. Otherwise, you will likely just automate inefficiencies.

“Best practices for automation projects always start with the process mapping and reengineering of all business scenarios,” said Sudhir Singh, CEO of NIIT Technologies. “This means that the entire automation design can be completed in advance and multiple repetitions can be avoided during delivery.”

But really understanding your processes can be time consuming and difficult. For this reason, it can make sense to consult an expert.

However, there are also several software systems that can essentially do an MRI of your processes. One example is Celonis, which has partnerships with top RPA players such as UiPath, Automation Everywhere, and Blue Prism. “Our system creates a business process map,” says Alexander Rinke, CEO of Celonis. “This shows what needs to be improved.”

Start with the everyday: RPA works best for routine and repetitive processes. Basically, these are things that … your employees are bored. And yes, that means RPA can span many areas of a business, like finance, human resources, legal, the supply chain, and so on.

It also helps when the processes don’t change a lot. This ultimately means fewer upgrades of the bots, which reduces complexity.

Determine whether people should be replaced or added: This is important as it will guide you in the type of RPA to use.

“By adding employees, a company can implement supervised bots that are assistants and helpers to team members, designed to speed processes and prevent human error,” said Richard French, Kryon’s CRO. “This setup allows employees to focus on advanced and complex tasks while bot assistants do their administrative tasks. “

However, if you want to find ways to reduce the number of employees, you should look at the vendors that focus on unattended bots.

Create a Competence Center (CoE): A well-designed plan for funding, training, managing and maintaining the RPA is required. To do this, it is recommended to set up a CoE that can manage the process. This often involves a mix of business people, IT staff, and developers.

Scaling: It is often easy to get early wins. The biggest challenge, however, is making RPA more pervasive.

“Many companies that implement the technology never scale beyond the first 50 automated processes,” said French. “The reason for this is that it is difficult for executives to think beyond that and understand which processes further improve ROI or efficiency when something is already in place.”

This is why it is so important to have a CoE. Additionally, the team will likely have to change over time as the needs and requirements of the RPA implementation change.

Tom (@ttaulli) is the author of the book Artificial Intelligence Basics: A Non-Technical Introduction.

August 9, 2021