A Powerful but Under-Utilized Tool
With great power comes great responsibility.
—Uncle Ben, Spiderman
As a highly flexible and powerful tool, robotic process automation (RPA) provides numerous opportunities to introduce quick automation into your business processes for profit optimization. Business teams are becoming increasingly interested in using this tool to offload mundane, repetitive tasks by leveraging its cognitive and predictive features. This has potential to provide dual benefits to your enterprise in a very cost-effective manner:
- By offloading mundane tasks, the existing workforce can concentrate on complex, higher-priority activities and discover innovative approaches.
- • Resource realignment allows companies to engage in new opportunities, explore new territories, and create better customer-focused solutions.
But with all its promise, the RPA bandwagon has struggled to become an acceptable enterprise-wide strategic solution.
For instance, 77% of organizations with RPA initiatives have fewer than 10 RPA bots.
*Source: IAFS Research Note
Enterprises have faced numerous challenges in their RPA journeys, including a lack of awareness, adoption resistance, and fear of job displacement. In order to overcome these challenges, it is critical that RPA initiatives be guided by a comprehensive roadmap with well-defined milestones. Milestones act as your guiding light, continuously providing all stakeholders with a sense of direction and progress.
A roadmap is critical to ensuring enterprise adoption by maintaining rollout velocity and ensuring security.
What Should be Considered in a Roadmap?
An elaborate roadmap for RPA should include all pillars of your enterprise, such as IT and operations risk, security, process excellence, change management, etc. RPA can be easily perceived as a tool that is in control of business teams, but experience tells us that without effective engagement of operations and IT teams, its scalability and performance is at risk.
Ideation and Conceptualization: Ideation and incubation is key to ensuring that you start right. Evangelism and brainstorming sessions should be performed with different business, operations, and IT areas to clearly define the playing ground. At this stage:
- Business drivers and objectives should be uniquely identified, and should be tied with the value expected from automation.
- Proof of value is more critical than proof of technology, so it’s key to identify the selection criteria and the associated weightage.
Product Selection: There are a variety of RPA tools on the market, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. It is key to select the right tool based on your business’s body of identified use cases.
- Selection should be performed with consideration for your other in-house technologies and their compatibility with the tool.
- Evaluate the product enhancement roadmap to understand the technical debt and the new capabilities that will be added.
Risk Assessment: This is key to ensure that the tool and its infrastructure requirements are clearly evaluated, and that the go-ahead is received from Chief Information Security Officer.
- Data privacy features should be explored to reduce any chances of breaches.
- Deployment features with a focus on cloud deployment should be explored.
Maturity Evaluation: People, processes, and existing technologies should be evaluated for outcomes and realistic goal-setting.
- Available skillsets should be analyzed, and the workforce should be reassigned accordingly.
- The solution should be subjected to a fit check—an alignment with the overall enterprise automation roadmap.
Governance: Guardrails should be laid out for the initial rollout as well as for bot maintenance.
- Standards, best practices, rollout framework, and health check practices should be identified.
- Versioning, reusability, and product migration strategy should be defined.
Onboarding & Rollout: Execution methodology, release cycles, and team structure should be laid out.
We have observed that the initial 80% of automation provides the best returns. The remaining 20% is not only complex, but the returns start to diminish comparative to the amount of investment needed. Hence, with an automation strategy—especially one for RPA—it’s key to know where to stop. We believe that when used right, RPA’s non-intrusive integration abilities allow it to quickly realize business benefits at scale.
Learn more about how to support your RPA initiative with 3 Ways to Start Your Robotic Process Automation Journey.
Senior Enterprise Application Architect
Animesh Jain heads Prolifics’ Robotic Automation and Process Innovation practice. With over 15 years of experience, he specializes in the digital business automation suite of tools. As a thought leader, has helped many clients with their digital transformation initiatives.
He is involved in all facets of project lifecycle, including assessment, estimation, end-to-end architecture and solution design, implementation, governance, performance, and maintenance of business processes and rules using the IBM suite of tools.
Goutam is a senior consultant for Prolifics’ Smarter Process practice, specializing in integration and cloud computing.
He has experience in implementing various digital transformation projects using business process automation and SOA technologies. He is also a certified Advanced Robotic Process Automation professional and has a keen interest in the field of RPA and machine learning.