Most children in the Unites States go to elementary school, middle school, high school, and then college. Very few people skip high school and go directly to college. This is due to the progressive nature of the educational curriculum building upon itself and helping the students mature their understanding and thinking as they advance through the grades. I have recently run across multiple instances where organizations sought to skip steps in adopting an RPA program. This is akin to skipping grades or even an entire school system hoping to succeed without a prior foundation of success having been achieved first. When available tech capabilities and methodologies are not developed in a logical sequence, it typically leads to a lack of vision and poorly conceived objectives as well as minimal buy in from executives and staff. It’s all about process prioritization.
When designing an RPA program, I recommend the following as the four key areas worth giving extra attention to in order to succeed.
I have seen organizations implement processes in the order of ideas being conceived. After implementing the solution and putting it in production, they then go back to evaluate the process to ensure it is benefitting the organization. This approach will lead to failure and dissatisfaction.
To achieve success, a focus on the business outcomes to be achieved by automating that process is critical. Some business outcomes include improving revenue, decreasing costs and enhancing operations, improving employee experience and morale, improving quality and risk management/compliance, or leveraging new innovations and technologies. An analysis of the business objectives to be achieved, implementation complexity, and return on investment should all be considered before prioritizing and automating a process.
Once multiple processes have been identified and metrics have been compiled to compare the processes, they should then be prioritized. This will lead to implementing the most beneficial processes that would ultimately demonstrate the value that RPA/Intelligent Automation can bring to an organization.
When building a house, a logical step-by-step approach must be taken to be successful. For example, these are the general steps:
- Plumbing and electrical
- Insulation and Drywall
- Trim, Flooring, and Countertops
- Fixtures, mirrors
- Exterior Landscaping
If these are not done in a systematic order, the house will not be constructed properly. It would be either unsafe to live in or cause work to be done twice to repair issues. For example, if after installing the drywall you realized you forgot to put in the complete plumbing and electrical systems, you would be forced to cut open the freshly finished drywall. This would leave with massive repair patches to the drywall or entire sheets of drywall needing to be replaced and reinstalled. Similar to constructing a home, each organization needs to ensure that their Intelligent Automation efforts are organized. A centralized body should govern the program and strategically expand the capabilities throughout the organization. If this is not done, governance will become a nightmare, adoption will be minimized, and the objectives sought will not be fully recognized.
Many believe they need to hire several developers to build bots and the RPA program will begin to be successful and grow. Unfortunately, it is not that easy.
Once you’re finished with process prioritization, there are several activities and capabilities that need to be developed. Just a few of these include:
- Setting up the infrastructure, application access, and security to support the automation
- Identifying, evaluating, and prioritizing processes
- Documenting and designing processes
- Developing the processes
- Testing the processes
- Providing training on how to use the processes in production
- Maintaining processes in production
To have a successful and growing RPA program, the capabilities to enable the program to succeed must be developed. Roles and responsibilities should be identified. Then, sufficient investment in the resources intended to support the program should be evaluated and given based upon the expected program goals.
Governance & Standards
RPA governance consists of the standards that coordinate and control your RPA resources and program activities. RPA governance is essential to supporting the growth and stability of an organization’s RPA program. However, it can hinder progress and diminish the potential business impact if it is not implemented correctly.
To be successful, RPA leadership should establish:
- Clear program strategy
- Healthy policies, standards, and controls
- Organized Operating Model to support the program
- Clear approach to identify, evaluate, and prioritize processes
- Universal RPA development standards
- Approach for process management
- Standards around infrastructure, security, licensing, and release management
- Methodology for successful change management
A key consideration is that an organization’s RPA activities and goals will mature over time. For this reason, governance of the program will need to be flexible enough to set the standards necessary to reduce risk while still supporting the growth and innovation of the program.
Governance should empower your teams to be successful. It should be in place to allow teams to have guidance, reduce risk, and enable your organization to achieve their business objectives. It should not be a complex approval process that limits ideas and progress. Thoughtfully designed governance will be the cornerstone to ensure a successful RPA program.
For additional insight, see our blog entry on RPA Governance Success Factors.
RPA is becoming an essential capability for the continued success of corporations. When properly organized and managed, it can enable organizations to achieve their business objectives and outperform their competition. In order to be successful, organizations should place extra attention on process prioritization, methodical expansion, capability development, and governance and standards. If not, the RPA program will likely not achieve its objectives and will not be successful in the eyes of executive leadership.