The opportunity to deploy Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for business processes has appealed many enterprises as they compete in a digital-first world, requiring higher value from resources and more seamless operations. By deploying RPA technology, enterprises can automate their rule-based business processes with the software bots and programs that don’t need human interactions like workflow, databases and ERPs. Robotic process automation has significantly evolved within last few years. When applied with the systematic planning, it substantially enhances performance and cuts operational costs. Most enterprises have many operations that are deterministic, manual, and repetitive, and 70 percent of these operations can be automated using RPA bots. Processes having higher complexity level necessitate human judgement can also be automated by 15-20 percent via strong collaboration between bots and human staff.
The year of 2018 is the year of RPA evolution further. As automation technology is evolving at a faster pace, enterprises are getting more informed of the need to align the technology investments to their business outcomes and customers’ needs. For these enterprises, the value is gained by cutting across some of the most complicated processes and using the intelligent automation technologies that fully mimic human action. In this scenario, the process automation needs cognitive abilities like speech recognition, natural language processing, machine learning and computer vision technology to comprehend huge amount of structured and unstructured data. Organization that integrate RPA with other digital technologies like machine learning, dynamic workflow etc., are embracing greater vale by gaining intelligent automation. A commercial financial service business, for instance, applies RPA to its underwriting process for loans.
The Best RPA Practices in 2018
RPA brings tremendous opportunities; however, the enterprises need a prudently crafted strategy and implementation strategy to harness them. A blend of deep process skill, domain knowledge and technology prowess, is also important. The RPA deployment is successful when based on best industry practices.
Prioritize the most relevant RPA use cases
Recognize the most suitable processes for RPA by determining the deterministic and rules-based areas of a process. This helps quantify the value to be driven and facilitates automation initiatives to bring the expected results. The best method is to start small, attain quick wins, and shape internal stakeholder confidence. As enterprises achieve more experience, it becomes easier for them to scale up RPA initiatives to manage complex processes.
Develop accurate ROI expectations
The time taken to attain ROI is one of the main challenges in the RPA adoption. Enterprise processes endure to rise in complexity with more seasonality, geographic variations, regulatory requirements, or numbers of exceptions, which leads to longer development times as well as user-acceptance testing. The time to get to break-even may range from six months for typical processes to up to two years for highly complex ones. The cost savings may also range between 10–50%, based on the process’s complexity. Enterprises should consider the robot utilization in a meaningful way and deploy RPA platforms that let robots shift between the processes during lean periods. Businesses handling big virtual workforces can think of developing a centralized control to manage bots, screen their performance, and monitor benefits.
Build a precise governance structure
A governance structure defining roles and responsibilities for the automation activities helps yield fruitful RPA initiatives. The key elements are:
- Guidelines and defined templates for measuring, designing, building, and deploying the robots, and enabling a strong collaboration between the business units
- Frameworks for change management within the organization
- The ability to monitor the productivity and performance metrics to evaluate impact and determine the areas for improvement
Select highly functional RPA tools
The mainstream RPA platforms are integrated with tools that can handle most of the automation scenarios. Enterprises should assess tools with pre-defined automation libraries having re-usable elements to link to the back-end systems, cost and licensing options and data extraction capabilities. As businesses mature to automate their processes with unstructured data and need cognitive abilities, they combine RPA with boarder-scale technology solutions to attain greater benefits. It is also critically important to collaborate with service providers offering end-to-end process support. Such providers help your enterprise make an internal center of excellence for supporting critical business functions as well as processes that improve results.
Re-engineered processes for maximizing the RPA benefits
RPA practitioners advise re-engineering the business processes to yield the fewest exceptions. Inefficient processes having critical interdependencies on other applications and processes, along with those that are vulnerable to a high degree of exceptions, do not produce the required RPA outcomes. By reengineering the proper processes, you can progressively include RPA as part of wider process and digital transformation initiatives.
Developing strong collaboration
A lot of RPA failures happens due to the lack of collaboration between IT and business functions. Business leaders often fail to embrace IT in RPA planning assuming that RPA systems don’t need extensive IT support. On the other hand, IT leaders often fail to recognize the value of a business function’s perception and do not think of process nuances. RPA enablement is a combined effort between IT and business with an operating model defining roles and responsibilities of all players. While the function should own the process design initiatives, operational requirements, and performance monitoring, the areas like reliability, technological compatibility, risk management, identity and access control, and compliance are for the IT organization to deliver.
Looking Ahead in 2018
RPA is the coming of age and evolving as a mainstream investment focus across all the industries. As such, enterprises are integrating robotics and advanced digital technologies, balancing robot and human workforces, and automating them intelligently. Pulling all of this together via intelligent automation needs strategic planning, and the ability to disrupt the boundaries, convince the stakeholders, and occasionally fail. These momentary failures lead to better learning for an enterprise’s overall digital transformation journey and successful year based on RPA best practices adoption.