Purchasing an RPA solution is like the Christmas present you can’t wait to open. The thought of automating tasks and processes is an exciting one and you can’t wait to get started. You might only use one robot from your RPA solution, choosing a specific test case to show ROI to management. With your test case completed and management asking how we roll this out enterprise-wide, here comes the challenge.
How do you Scale RPA Across the Organization?
A single robot works great for a test case by automating a task, but it doesn’t constitute a digital workforce.
To create a truly digital workforce, you need to be able to scale and manage hundreds or thousands of robots. You need a strategy and the right tools to manage these new digital workers long-term as you grow.
What is your Automation Strategy?
According to Ovum Research, “We have seen enterprises implementing 5,000-35,000 software robots and achieving the key objectives for RPA, but there are cases where RPA was adopted without much thought or clear strategy…” RPA is implemented here and there, piecemeal, in different departments – with no one leading the charge. A Deloitte poll of over 1,500 finance professionals found that “the responsibility of owning and governing digital technologies, such as robotic process automation, is localized within information technology (IT) departments (38.9 percent) or fragmented across each department that utilized the digital technology (15 percent).”
“Expectations feed outcomes,” warns the Everest Group, or put another way, you only get what you plan to get. If RPA is implemented in a fragmented way, the results will probably be less than stellar, impacting at best a segment of the business. Without taking the time to set an organizational strategy, the effort may lose traction, and with it, internal support for greater transformation efforts.
And when your focus is too narrow, it’s hard to see the big picture and the efficiencies that can be achieved on a larger scale. “If RPA is viewed as a series of disconnected technical projects, the separate implementer’s sacrifice opportunities,” the Everest Group goes on to explain. “They overlook the potential to redesign processes to optimize RPA and to design its human workforce so it can best engage with its digital workforce. Carrying out their work in siloed groups, they cannot foresee or manage RPA’s organizational implications.”
To make sure your organization doesn’t fall into this trap, it's critical to start with a cross-departmental strategy and to put the right tools in place to scale and manage your new digital workforce. It comes down to this: scale or fail.
Where are you in your Automation Journey?
Are your business operations fully automated? If your answer is “no,” you’re not alone. Even with business process management (BPM), which has been around for over twenty years, automation has yet to happen. The main reason: User tasks are not automated with RPA.
Only 3 percent of organizations have managed to scale RPA to a level of 50 or more robots, according to the Association for Intelligent Information Management (AIIM). One of the challenges is finding a robust software tool that can manage multiple robots and RPA projects across the business and give you room to grow. And just as important, the technology needs to integrate with your current systems—otherwise, it’s just another hurdle you need to jump through.
Enter Robot Lifecycle Management. This takes a more process-centric approach to RPA that goes beyond simple task automation. Lifecycle Management looks at entire business processes within the context of a broader enterprise automation roadmap. It is the best way to manage robots and their activities across multiple teams, processes and activities.
Building infrastructure to drive growth and complexity
As you continue on the RPA path, things can easily get out of control if you don’t have a formalized version control system (VCS) to help you keep track of your work and the changes you’ve made. Robots break when code changes, websites evolve or humans update a spreadsheet.
When selecting an RPA software, make sure it uses Git, the open source version control system for tracking programming changes. Git simplifies enterprise-wide robot management into a single management console so it's easier to deploy and govern. Plus, it also manages RPA robots, snippets, resources and schedules – while synchronizing between different source control repositories such as development, test and production environments.
In addition to Lifecycle Management, it is critical to assemble a cross-functional RPA team – typically in the form of a Center of Excellence (COE). Teams should comprise business users, IT managers and users working in specific use cases. The objective of a COE is focusing on high productivity gains and demonstrating quick ROIs for each identified use case to prove its success across multiple lines of business.
The beauty of RPA is that it’s an easy win. It doesn’t require training or a complete system overhaul because it works with your current systems, making it easy to implement and fast to show a success. But pockets of success don’t add up to a digital workforce. By following best practices and implementing a strategy that covers people, processes and technology, it’s easier to scale across the enterprise and work like tomorrow–today.