Operational scalability is the top business priority for 58% of enterprises around the world, as revealed through a recent survey by technology research firm Gartner. And to attain this growth, many companies are looking to technology and IT-related improvements, robotic process automation (RPA) in particular:
“While the idea of shifting toward digital business was speculative for most CEOs a few years ago, it has become a reality for many in 2017. (…) Deeper transformation can only be achieved at scale if it is systematically driven.”
In fact, without preemptive planning, deployments can easily slump or even fail. And this can lead to a number of challenges along the way, especially at big scale: complications with employee resistance and onboarding, difficulties with choosing the right processes to automate, obstacles in setting realistic expectations, and more. Yet, rather than being a one-time event, adopting RPA is a journey — one that, in addition to the software purchase and implementation alone, includes rethinking how the technology will unfold within an enterprise and how it will change over time.
Why plan early for RPA?
Knowledge and understanding of the strategic importance of RPA is crucial in achieving robust automation. Yet, one of the common pitfalls of RPA deployment is failing to have a strategy to deal with the roll-out of automation and its sustainability. With the goal of rapid implementation, companies often rely on unstable, non-scalable approaches when trying to grow RPA. Here are some reasons why organizations should start planning early for RPA:
Gain competitive advantage
One of the main obstacles facing RPA implementation in the MENA region is the management inability to envision the benefits of such a step. RPA offers companies competitive advantages in leveraging lean operational principles that far outweigh the potential obstacles in implementation. For companies to remain ahead of their competitors in the marketplace, they should plan early for RPA, and plan big.
Leverage the benefits
An RPA software can work around the clock, do the work of up to five full-time employees, bring cost savings of up to 50%, and rapid ROI. Yet, the benefits are simply insufficient when companies do not intend to automate all that is automatable. As automation changes how business is done within all the interconnected departments of a company, it’s especially advantageous to automate significant segments in one leap.
Determining scope & preparing for sustainability
More generally, enterprises must decide on the scope and sourcing of their RPA program, develop a business plan and operating model, and prepare stakeholder and change management actions — all before even beginning the roll-out of automation. Only then can processes be identified, prioritized, and assessed and automation be pushed through development and user acceptance testing.
Of these activities, determining the scope of an RPA roll-out is the most important topic when planning for big-scale. For long-term automation success, enterprises should plan their RPA program with the biggest scope possible in mind. This is especially true for multinational enterprises wanting to establish wide-reaching improvements. Companies must decide what functions to automate as well as which company entities and geographies to involve.
Some examples of repetitive mind numbing activities that can be automated are claims processing, report generation, and payroll preparation. Back office functions can be automated first, but error-prone, customer-facing front office functions should be automated quickly thereafter.
Automation of these functions should be established through the enterprise’s entities at both the shared service center and individual company levels.
Baby steps or big bounds
Small-scale, conservative planning is not always the right answer and it’s also not the best approach for achieving deep technological transformation with large-scale RPA deployments. Professional services firm Deloitte suggests that:
“Not all RPA journeys start off with an enterprise-widescope. [But] RPA solutions are enterprise platforms: they can, in theory, be applied to any automatable activity. The benefits of a digital workforce should be evaluated across the whole organisation.”
More and more organisations are beginning to recognize that RPA deployment is part of an enterprise-wide initiative that demands systematic foresight. The most important message: Think big from the start.
Originally written by Mina Deckard, UiPath
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