The numbers don’t lie: companies all over the world have come to grips with the idea that leveraging software robots to enhance workflow efficiency and productivity has become a best practice for maximum gain for businesses across the industry spectrum.
An HfS survey of Global 2000 revealed that more than 80% of the companies have embarked on the automation journey. However, of those, 34% are still in the pilot phase, 27% are moving to production, while merely 13% have managed to pursue scaling RPA and to move on to enterprise-wide deployment.
Why do so many companies stop after automating the ‘low hanging fruit’ processes instead of continuing to move forward along the automation path?
Why is the percentage of companies that scale up so small, when so many studies show that it is what really unlocks the full potential of software robots?
Lack of knowledge is supposedly the main reason: lack of knowledge about what to expect, about efficient practices for advancing automation, about the resources that must be invested, or about how to avoid the pitfalls that might stand in the way.
If it’s about a lack of knowledge, it’s worth starting the discussion with a functional definition of RPA scalability. It includes the following three aspects:
- handling increased workload by involving more bots in task performance, aggregating bots’ capacities, and enhancing their versatility for optimal goal attainment;
- expanding the range of automated processes, and generalizing the automation of similar processes across various departments;
- increasing the broadness of access by fostering access to new technologies.
Tips for successfully scaling RPA
Before we discuss the bot categories that underpin scaling, we will first mention three helpful hints proposed by UiPath. We do this because we’ve seen plenty of case studies that speak for the effectiveness of the UiPath policy for scaling RPA.
1. Fully automating departments
Completing the automation of the ‘low hanging fruit’ processes leads to a time reduction between 7% and 15% per single department, which is much less than what you can expect from RPA implementation.
For this reason, it is mandatory to fully automate one or two departments. This is, in fact, the essence of the ‘total automation’ approach, based on per-department, and not a per-process business case, and characterised by longer ROI timelines.
2. Tackling inter-departmental processes
These processes are typically more complex, and, besides collaboration between different departments, they also require correspondingly complex technologies. For such reasons, successful automation of inter-departmental processes calls for educational interventions to support employees’ upskilling, and for the creation of an RPA Centre of Excellence with the required degree of oversight of the collaborative conduct.
Additionally, by centralising governance and decision making, the CoE fosters the enterprise-wide buy-in that you need. The lucrative automation of these inter-departmental processes can be viewed as a touchstone along the path towards organisation-wide use of software robots.
3. Investing in RPA-related continuous education for your employees
As we’ve talked before, addressing your employees’ resistance to RPA caused by the mythical fear of “robots will steal our jobs”, is among the top practices for successful RPA implementation.
Employees’ anxiety related to the development of disruptive technologies, with high potential to reduce the need for the human workforce, is certainly understandable to some extent. Training is the best way to alleviate these fears. An internal educational program meant to train your employees to become RPA developers and analysts can really make a difference: people are more likely to endorse the things that they understand and find predictable.
You might want to consider the free online RPA training and certifications offered by UiPath, or our recent guide for learning robotic process automation. The upskilled employees will not only be more enthusiastic and willing to support the automation journey, but they will also assure the right level of expertise for scaling RPA.
Types of software robots that support scaling RPA
1. Bots for automating the “low hanging fruits.”
These are the basic, most common kinds of bots, meant to address the need to perform more reliably and efficiently high-volume, routine, tedious, rule-based tasks. Apart from promoting a generic productivity raise in your business, their role is to prevent overburdening your employees.
When they must handle tasks like moving data from one spreadsheet to another, for instance, the chances of coming up with creative, ‘outside the box’ ideas, precisely the ideas that help your company progress, are drastically reduced.
Using software robots to allow the employees to focus on higher-value tasks that leverage human-specific traits like the propensity for human-to-human communication, will increase both customer and employee satisfaction, as well as business process efficiency or data quality.
An example of this type of bot can be seen in the following RPA demo, where an insurance professional is using an attended bot for data entry & extraction.