In contemporary business, there’s always one question underpinning the work that companies carry out. Across sectors, managers and executives find themselves continually asking, "How can we do this better?"
While rank-and-file employees execute the processes that the business has designed and put into practice, as a leader, it's your job to see that those processes enable employees to be as productive as possible. Just as employee output skyrocketed during the initial phases of business computerization, subsequent generations of technology allowed for even larger capability improvements. Today, however, many businesses find themselves occupying an increasingly crowded plateau.
Businesses may be capable of meeting their operational demands and satisfying clients, but greater opportunities for long-term growth often seem out of reach. Companies that successfully achieve robust robotic process automation (RPA) can move beyond this plateau to resume their growth trajectory.
Does a successful RPA implementation significantly impact a company's future success? Signs increasingly point to "yes”—particularly when we consider RPA as just one link in a much larger chain of technologies. In a 2020 poll conducted by Gartner, nearly a quarter of finance leaders said that RPA was a significant focus.
For businesses that have been slow to embrace automation or have experienced deployment failures in the past, how to best utilize RPA is a major organizational concern. With a well-planned RPA development process, it’s much easier to identify areas for improvement, set targets and achieve goals cost-effectively. More importantly, developing institutional knowledge related to RPA will provide you with stronger footing for exploring additional tools.
In this article, we'll investigate an RPA implementation plan template while discussing which platforms could help you achieve your desired outcomes. Topics include:
The Five Major Steps to Implementing RPA
Although the deployment process will necessarily vary from business to business, we can condense this undertaking into five basic steps. Today, setting up robotic process automation is far easier than it was in the past. Modern platforms provide organizations with a significant amount of flexibility to tailor their capabilities to suit specific needs.
Understanding what you can automate comes first, along with determining how worthwhile automation is for a given task. You can then develop your robots, run a test program to assess effectiveness, and roll out a complete program that gives your business a much-needed boost.
Let's examine each of these steps in detail to demonstrate how you can begin this process.
Identify Processes You Can Automate
Having access to RPA technology is similar to having a hammer and going in search of nails. So before you go any further, you'll need to determine which processes in your organization can undergo automation. During this phase, it's essential to recognize that not everything will be suitable for automation. That said, there are many business cases for which you will find useful automation opportunities.
How do you identify workflows that are ripe for digital transformation? Keep the strengths of RPA in mind while taking a bird's-eye view of the primary processes in your business. It’s best-suited for high-volume processes that record significant error rates due to manual work. Processes that have an eventual impact on customer experience should also be a priority for automation.
Tasks suitable for robot applications include rules-based procedures and those with a well-defined series of actions. Retrieving and comparing data from different enterprise software solutions, for example, is a process that you can automate with a robot.
Conduct a Feasibility Assessment
The initial identification process requires examining how the company works. Doing so makes it easier to spot the problem areas where bottlenecks, errors and other slowdowns can impact the company's productivity and bottom line. However, not all the processes that you identified in the first step may be suitable for automation.
Assessing feasibility is a critical next step. Some elements to consider during feasibility assessments are:
- Input from the process users
- The exception-friendliness of the process. Processes that can't failsafe may be better left in the hands of humans
- The maturity of the process, i.e., whether the workflow steps undergo frequent modification or are rule-based
Build process maps that detail every action required in each workflow and consult with an RPA expert to assess the overall feasibility of automation. For processes that are not suitable, explore other solutions or reconfigure the workflow to eliminate inefficiencies where possible. Next, you can move forward with the initial creation of your robots.
Begin the Development Process
Once you’ve identified and validated processes, it’s time to select an RPA platform. This is a significant topic, which we cover in depth in the next section. After you’ve identified a provider, now comes the fun part: the development of your robots. Today, many platforms provide a "low code" or "no code" approach to automation, meaning that it’s easy for even relatively inexperienced users to configure the system and begin automating tasks. However, some workflows may require more advanced development to achieve desirable outcomes.
Run Your Pilot Phase to Gather Data
Once initial development concludes, it's time to run a "pilot" for the robots. You don't want to deploy brand-new RPA configurations in the field immediately. If things aren't perfect yet, you can inadvertently spoil the data and create a host of other problems that will cause headaches for your departmental teams. Before you begin, set benchmarks that you'd like to meet with automation.
Use the pilot program as an opportunity to partially automate a task for data-gathering. The pilot has several key purposes: it lets you see the real-world performance of your bot, identify and assess edge cases, and spot problems that you didn’t foresee during development. Take the data that you’ve gathered here and use it to refine and finalize the robot.
Reconfirm Your Strategy and Begin Deployment
Now is the time to make sure that everyone is on the same page, particularly stakeholders who will interact with the process daily. Provide training, explore and explain what the new tools can do, and have governance procedures in place to keep the bots functioning throughout the workweek. Develop a plan to fall back to secondary processes if the robots need additional tweaking after rollout.
Will adding robots into the mix transform the way that your teams work? Explore how advanced and integrated platforms such as Kofax RPA offer the most cost-effective and future-proof means of achieving automation.
Selecting a Vendor for Your RPA Implementation
Source: How to Pitch RPA, Kofax
Proceeding with robotic deployment through an approach and automation strategy such as the identify- engage-deploy sequence requires more than just planning. Strategy won't mean much if you don't have a platform on which to build your automation tools. In several ways, vendor selection will have a major impact on the success of your automation efforts.
Ease of deployment and uptake will be one of your primary concerns. Without sufficient buy-in from those interacting with the processes, your program may not succeed. Ongoing support and development will ensure that you receive continuous access to the latest in cutting-edge features, while ease of integration will make it simpler to connect all your processes.
While exploring vendor solutions, you’ll find that Kofax RPA stands out as a well-rounded option that can provide the gateway to the automation you require.
Why Kofax? How We’re Set Apart in This Space
Kofax RPA is one of the simplest and most accessible low code/no code platforms for basic business automation. Built to be highly scalable, it’s a great way to make your first foray into process automation without the risks and investments required for a heavier setup. With easy deployment and straightforward maintenance, transitioning tasks into this RPA software is easy.
Most importantly, this RPA solution does not live in a vacuum. Not only does it provide a powerful launchpad for your first explorations of automation, but it also seamlessly slots into the larger Kofax Intelligent Automation Platform. Designed to assist with everything from document ingestion to analysis and trend discovery, this suite of tools opens the door to advanced automation as your business needs grow.
More Integrations Equals Intelligent Automation
Connecting systems is the key to a true digital transformation. With dozens of different platforms for highly specific business cases, the saturated nature of the market can make it difficult to decide which platform to adopt. "FOMO" can feel very real in this market segment.
Kofax RPA and the overall platform for intelligent automation sidesteps this issue by providing easier integration with leading ERP and BPM platforms—and even other AI automation tools. As a result, it's easier to connect your systems, tear down silo walls and free the flow of mission-critical data throughout the company.
Bridge the Automation Gaps in Your Business
Where is your business coming up short in its pursuit of hyperautomation, and how can it improve? As you begin to use RPA to handle more tasks, the gaps in your automated processes may become clear. Learn how to "mind the gaps'' and avoid the pitfalls that you might encounter by overlooking these opportunities. From procure-to-pay systems to invoice processing and beyond, RPA lets you close the gaps and become more competitive in your space.
Ultimately, a successful RPA implementation using best practices may only be the first step on your journey into business automation. In many cases, the use of software robots reveals additional areas within the company where refinement is not only possible but necessary. As ongoing modernization reveals new needs and process gaps, you may recognize that RPA is only one piece of the puzzle.
With Kofax, achieving true intelligent automation is within reach. By combining and unifying RPA and other advanced technologies, employees and automation can work together seamlessly to propel your organization far beyond its plateau.
Discover how to take the first steps towards automation and start a conversation today about the right RPA development methodology for your business.