Robotic Process Automation (RPA): How to begin

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is growing tremendously as companies around the world seek to increase productivity and increase efficiency by automating everyday and repetitive tasks. Despite its advantages, RPA continues to fuel debates about human labor replacement. When you call up automation, it is not uncommon for employees to think of job losses.

A significant number of organizations remain reluctant to adopt RPA in business or IT functions because employees fear that doing so will change their roles and responsibilities.

[ What’s the difference between RPA and AI? Read: Robotic Process Automation (RPA) vs. AI, explained. ]

However, if implemented carefully, RPA can lower the costs associated with human talent work, which could be automated so that employees can focus on more meaningful work.

Design and develop RPA correctly

RPA can lower the costs associated with automating human talent so that employees can focus on more meaningful work.

Some organizations have already made significant investments in rolling out unattended and visited RPA bots. Financial services and telecommunications are two industries where RPA is widely used for processes like claims handling, policy maintenance, and other customer-facing work.

Business operations and corporate IT teams also use RPA to automate repetitive tasks and processes. Typical use cases are the processing of sales data from core systems in Excel and the presentation of a finished report as well as the automation of the provision and de-provision of assets within IT service desks. In both cases, RPA frees employees from routine tasks of little value.

[ How are  functions such as marketing, HR, and IT using RPA? Read also: Robotic Process Automation (RPA) moves beyond finance: 4 popular use cases. ]

Let’s look at three market trends that are designed to accelerate the adoption of RPA:

1. Disturbance value

Business leaders in all functional areas who have experimented with RPA are realizing the value it offers. In addition, RPA providers are seeing solid growth. The introduction of this disruptive technology is driven by labor savings, error reduction as well as shorter cycle times and process risks.

2. Artificial intelligence

The use of AI and the continuous development of the processing of increasingly complex data emulate decisions on a human level. This enables faster decision-making and eliminates the potential for human prejudice. Funding is given to some vendors to accelerate development in these areas.

3. Overcoming resistance from employees

Digital workers and robots are essential to fill existing skills gaps while improving productivity and the quality of work. One way to overcome resistance is to identify an initial path and first automate small, very manual processes. This allows you to demonstrate quick wins that are gaining momentum with key stakeholders and employees. Most providers offer free versions that enable proof-of-concept, and current licensing models per bot make it possible to invest one bot in RPA at a time.

[ How can automation free up more staff time for innovation? Get the free eBook: Managing IT with Automation. ]

RPA training and team topologies are important

RPA technologies can reduce costs and improve efficiency, but human talent will continue to play a role. Consider these two factors:

Training, services and support become more and more important over time. RPA does not interfere with existing recording systems or business applications and therefore does not require much integration work. To use RPA software, individuals and teams must be trained to ensure deployment and implementation meet expectations.

Implementing RPA typically involves “citizen developers” or people who are close to the company and can identify the best use cases for RPA software. Citizen developers must be trained and equipped with skills and abilities to implement successful RPA projects.

[ Want resources for RPA training? Check out 8 Robotic Process Automation (RPA) training and certification courses. ]

A competence center (COE) for the automation of robotic processes is an essential topology. Additionally, citizen developers, IT oversight, security, mobile app development, other team members, and topic owners should join forces to create COEs to accelerate innovation. This team should own the RPA lifecycle as well as the ongoing expansion and maintenance.

[ How did Adobe CIO Cynthia Stoddard do it? Read also: Adobe CIO: How we scaled RPA with a Center of Excellence. ]

A COE can help avoid disruptions between IT teams and other business functions due to issues such as security and governance. RPA control rooms or management consoles that support COEs are also required.

The productivity potential of RPA is too promising to ignore. Technology will keep improving, but that doesn’t necessarily mean robots are taking jobs away. Ideally, CIOs can use these bots to free up employees for more meaningful work that drives their company’s digital transformation efforts. Also remind skeptics that many vendors offer free trials so you can see RPA in action before committing.

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April 10, 2021