Robotic Process Automation
Using research and experience as guides when planning an RPA program
A search through current Robotic Process Automation (RPA) articles and research paints an inconsistent and sometimes contradictory picture of common RPA experiences. Is it all true?
Benefits from RPA include quick payback, an easy path to standardization and implementation simplicity.
Most organizations fail to get to scale with RPA, commonly defined as 50 or more bots, and RPA is difficult to adopt across the organization.
WHAT IS RPA & WHY IS IT POPULAR NOW
Robotic process automation (RPA) is a term used to describe work performed by software robots that mimics the behavior of humans performing manual, repetitive, and rule based activities.
RPA is especially attractive because:
- organizations can easily see work that can be automated, and
- frustrated workers can envision the elimination of the more mundane parts of their jobs.
RPA’s current popularity is driven by RPA tool vendors who have created and marketed tools and operational platforms that give organizations a cost-efficient way to automate parts of their business that have historically been too complex and costly to automate.
RPA eliminates work that is manual & visible
At some point we’ve all heard the phrase “the good news is that this product is so flexible and the bad news is that it is so flexible” to describe a promising technology or product.
This rings true with RPA. Its flexibility allows organizations to realize the range of outcomes documented in the RPA research. However, that same flexibility creates challenges that RPA teams must understand and navigate successfully if they hope to keep their programs on track.
CHARTING YOUR RPA COURSE
As your organization begins implementing RPA you’ll need to do some hard RPA work before building any robots.
This work includes:
- Developing a clear & precise understanding of the types of benefits RPA can deliver. And recognizing that robots do not universally deliver the same outcomes. The value delivered by robots is as varied as the value created by the work they automate. Some robots improve quality, some increase throughput, some decrease costs.
- Prioritizing what benefits matter most to your situation and then building the right RPA plan and operating model. Your operations should Include regular impact measurement and expectations resetting.
- Creating and staffing an operating plan to ensure that RPA investment decisions, priorities and actions remain aligned with goals. Make it easy to avoid shortsighted decisions to chase RPA benefits.
- Planning for the impact of RPA across the organization and at an individual level. Some teams will welcome RPA while others will feel that their work and jobs are threatened. Avoid starting an RPA initiative without a plan to address “what’s in it for me?” concerns.
In practice, organizations need to understand and balance a tactical desire to use RPA to quickly capture value by addressing low hanging fruit with a strategic goal to transition to an automation first mindset that drives lasting transformation.
The good news is that you can leverage the power and flexibility of RPA to address many different issues that matter to your organization.
The promise of RPA is real, RPA products do simplify robot creation.
Achieving the outcomes you want from RPA requires careful planning and attention to detail.
Remember, RPA robots do what you build them to do and nothing more.