Lately, the automation business has gained a significant amount of momentum, namely in the field of Robotic Process Automation (RPA). The benefits of RPA manifest by alleviating the stress of repetitive and easy operations.
Because of changes in business operations due to the pandemic, such as moving to a remote workforce and social distancing requirements, many expect that the automation of business processes will become even more crucial in the future.
The Process of Automating: The Starting Point
To begin reaping the benefits of RPA implementations, the starting point involves real-world problems and use cases that can apply automation. One of the first obstacles is uncovering the type of automation that will best solve your individual use case or business process.
The majority of organizations begin with back-office services. These services are primarily in finance and the supply chain. Business processes within these two divisions are complex. They involve input from various departments in both structured and unstructured data forms. For example, this can be from Salesforce, ServiceNow, SAP, Oracle, Excel, and other sources via email, pdfs, hand-written notes, and more. As a result, many people choose to start by automating certain repetitive operations and simple workflows that mostly operate with structured data types.
Expanding RPA Use
A growing number of businesses are expanding their use of RPA as users acquire trust in the technology. As a result, they deploy more RPA in increasingly complicated processes and adopt new tools. For example, RPA can be used to automate Optical Character Recognition (OCR), conversational chatbots, and Business Process Management (BPM) platforms with built-in integration platforms as a service (iPaaS).
It’s critical to understand RPA’s limitations and the increasing importance of third-party solutions. RPA, for instance, is hampered by the fact that the technology currently does not perform well with unstructured data.
These experiences help businesses broaden their understanding of what RPA can be used to automate. Additionally, it helps businesses establish best practices for future implementations. Using process mining or discovery tools helps certain organizations revisit their current internal processes. When executives have improved visibility into their internal workflows, they may assess whether RPA is still needed. Furthermore, they can determine whether they need to re-engineer or redesign the process altogether.
The success and benefits of RPA are dependent on a company’s specific workflows. Despite what RPA can be used to automate, some use cases are more suited for RPA than others. At its core, RPA is about re-engineering a company’s processes to improve efficiency. It’s all about optimization.
Reaping the Benefits of RPA: Tips for Implementation
If you’re new to RPA, here are some top tips for success:
- Achieve cross-departmental alignment: Knowing the objectives (e.g. empowering them to focus more on mission-essential operations) is critical to long-term success. A recent survey finds that over 25% of employees fear losing their employment due to automation.
- Create a Center of Excellence (COE) that governs what works, where automation is needed, and best practices for security and IT. This includes exception handling, process overview, counselling and course correction. Similarly to how HR oversees human labour, the COE handles automation tools. This will prevent “shadow IT” and guarantee actions are compliant and secure.
- Focus on visibility, documentation, and lastly automation: Companies that stay remote for longer will need to better understand their internal processes, with documentation essential for data-driven choices. They need to use process mining technologies to catalogue internal operations before automating. Alternatives to automation include redesigning workflows and retraining employees.
- Focus on big goals, not small tasks: After documentation, change management must evaluate whether automation is genuinely required and what benefits it can provide. Process intelligence helps firms re-engineer processes, retrain workers, and automate. Before automating processes, a company must first understand them.
- Approach RPA iteratively: Iterative approaches work best with RPA. A 12-month development period does not guarantee flawless automation.