Every business has a number of mind-numbingly repetitive jobs that consume large amounts of time, but which have to be carried out on a regular basis. They may not be moving the business forward by pursuing bold new directions or initiatives, but they are nonetheless tasks — like processing payment claims or carrying out data migration from one piece of software to another — that have got to be completed in order for the enterprise to operate effectively.
This is where Robotic Process Automation enters the picture. Often abbreviated to RPA, Robotic Process Automation allows for these tasks to to be automated using software bots (the “robot” referenced in Robotic Process Automation is a software, rather than hardware, agent). Not only does this free up human employees to focus on more rewarding tasks, but it can also increase efficiencies and improve outcomes, cut down on errors and save on costs.
However, while the RPA bots also referred to as “unattended automation” can carry out their jobs without human input once installed, the process leading up to this nonetheless requires plenty of human consideration. Here are some of the main questions you should ask as you set out to implement an RPA deployment.
#1. Are your processes optimized for efficiency?
RPA bots carry out step-by-step tasks in a way that follows the exact same process every time. This means never deviating from the rules laid out, which is a massive boon when it comes to ensuring compliance or avoiding making errors. But it also means you need to make sure that that process is as optimized as it can possibly be. Processes that are not optimized for automation means that the benefits you will receive will be limited by this failure.
When you’re considering introducing RPA into the workplace, be certain that the tasks are properly examined, as they’re currently practiced, to make sure that the workflow is as clean as it can possibly be. Where necessary, redesigning and standardizing tasks so as to achieve maximum efficiency is a smart move that will result in better bots. This process might mean prolonging the development process. However, it will save considerable time later on.
#2. Do you know what you are trying to achieve?
You would never make a new hire without first knowing what you hope they will bring to your organization. Similarly, it’s not advisable to adopt or invest in a new piece of technology without first knowing how you plan to measure its success. When it comes to RPA, define a clear purpose for the technology, and know precisely what you hope it will allow you to achieve.
It may be that you simply want to allow the humans carrying out a particular task to be able to focus on other jobs instead. In other cases, you may be aiming to reduce the amount of time it takes to carry out a certain job — for instance, cutting down the length of time it takes for certain queries to receive a response from hours or days down to minutes. In a compliance-heavy industry, maybe you’re being charged for regulatory violations, and the aim is to stop this happening by utilizing software to help achieve compliance.
Whatever the purpose, make sure you both know what RPA can aid you in achieving and the precise results that will mark perceived success for your initiative.
#3. Have you implemented a Center of Excellence?
A Center of Excellence (CoE) will help to ensure RPA is embedded effectively in a particular organization. A CoE team will be dedicated to ensuring the successful rollout of the technology and that it achieves the goals set out. This can range from assessing potential opportunities for deploying RPA bots to measuring their productivity and performance. In short, to make certain that you achieve points #1 and #2 on this list, establish a CoE team to help with your RPA deployment.
#4. Are you communicating with your staff?
Cost-saving automation has an obvious advantage for businesses, but enthusiasm around this area may not be shared quite so enthusiastically by employees. Understandably, the promise of software bots that work 24/7 without getting tired, asking for a vacation or ever requesting a raise may be viewed as a threat.
The worst you can do as a business owner or manager is ignore these concerns. Do not simply introduce RPA bots and expect employees to help record their work processes for what some might fear is an attempt to replace them. Instead, make clear how RPA fits into your organizational strategy, how these tools could help human workers with a plethora of tasks, and how — most importantly — this will open up new opportunities for those human employees to carry out more crucial tasks for the business. It’s all about proper communication!