Robotic process automation is one of the hottest trends in technology. In a research (2017), conducted by Another Monday in Germany, as much as 12% of organisations already had implemented Robotic Process Automation (RPA) on a certain level. Also, 16% of the respondents had incorporated RPA implementation in their short term digitisation strategy. Meanwhile the proportions are growing fast. The question is how successful these journeys were, especially in relation to scalability. RPA goes far beyond building and deploying a bot. RPA addresses the need for change.
In 2018 the global spending on RPA was estimated to reach $680 million, an increase of 57 percent year over year, according to Gartner. RPA software spending is predicted to reach a total of $2.4 billion in 2022. But these numbers just represent the total purchase amount of RPA tools. The pitfall of automation attempts hides behind the misunderstanding that the technology is the solution in itself. But frankly, just buying licenses will get you nowhere. Not if you want to truly enhance business quality and scale up productivity. Successful implementation highly depends on process selection. How do you discover which processes are most eligible to automate through RPA or Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) in order to create business value?
Recklessly automating (parts of) processes will not do. Organisations need to obtain comprehensive knowledge on the actual impact of every automated link. In addition, forget the catchphrase ‘emerging technology’, acknowledge RPA as a methodology.
RPA holds incredible potential value for a large part of all companies. This value primarily gets expressed in improved productivity, cost reduction, customer interaction, and scaling. However to fully exploit RPA, an organisation needs to have end-to-end transparency regarding their processes. How do you grasp the full package? Here are some guidelines.
Five key drivers of RPA success
#1: Getting everyone aboard on the RPA journey
The most challenging about improvement is change; something that is difficult to sell to internal influencers within an organisation. That is why you need to make them to empathise with the foreseen change. To get influencers and stakeholders engaged on RPA, it is important to educate them and dispel all misperceptions. For senior leadership buy-in is also important to engage a leader who understands that RPA is not a project, but a journey; someone that is eager to drive that journey. When you have everyone aboard, you have the foundation to build a well-defined business case, that emphasises the need for change and ensures clarity on benefits and investments.
#2: Process analysis
Understanding the business processes is a prerequisite to single out the most effective chain of processes and to bring about the software robots to mimic humans flawlessly and compliant. Process mining is one part of a thorough analysis. During process mining, specialised data mining algorithms are analysed in order to identify trends, patterns, details, and eventually point out the weak spots in the process chain. The other crucial part are internal workshops to discover the purpose and added values of each step within a business process or a chain of processes.
#3: Proof of concept
As earlier mentioned, implementing RPA needs to be done precisely, and is not the easiest task. A proof of concept rapidly confirms benefits and identifies potential issues before one starts the full RPA implementation. It can also function as an argument when convincing your stakeholders and influencers of the opportunities RPA provides. Putting the benefits into practice is a great way of showing the applicability and effect of Robotic process automation within your company.
A follow-up on the process analysis is to document the existing process steps. Outlining all steps creates transparency and helps to clarify what parts of a process can be optimised and simplified. Also, it reveals unstable processes, which prevents inefficient automation. In that case you need to take the time to stabilise them first.
#5: Impact on soft factors
Although RPA will not have an impact on a company’s hard factors like value proposition and core capabilities in a direct and fundamental way, but it will influence the soft factors. These are often not as obvious as the hard factors, but just as crucial within an automation journey. This involves among other the direct consequences for the employees, required job qualifications, changes in the organisational structure and an evolving internal collaboration.
Many digital transformations lack proper internal communications. Our survey on digitisation also confirms this; 43% of the respondents felt that they were not sufficiently informed by their company, not knowing what effect the related changes to the workplace would have on their jobs. Unfortunate, because the human workforce plays an important role in the extensive analysis any RPA project needs.
Conclusion on RPA drivers
We cannot stress this enough, process analysis is key. Successful RPA implementations come about when the most effective chain of processes is singled out to mimic humans flawlessly and compliant. Therefore it is important to make sure RPA is not turning into an one-man show, but seen as a synergy that is derived from interaction with all involved stakeholders, from leadership to employees.
Want to learn more about how to approach RPA process selection? Read “Kicking off your RPA journey” and find out how to aim for the first time right when identifying automatable processes.
Want to know more about the basics for identifying the right processes?