What is the relationship between robotic process automation and the more general concept of digital transformation?
According to the findings of a survey of 502 executives conducted in May 2019 and published in The Economist, a vast majority of 93% of business executives believe that automation is the first step in the direction of digital transformation.
This is consistent with the idea that an ‘automation first’ mindset is the primary factor for making digital transformation real. However, acknowledging the potential of automation in a proactive manner by making a commitment to scale RPA, does not automatically translate into leveraging RPA to digitally transform businesses entirely.
There is a need for sustained effort to strengthen people’s knowledge about automation, emphasizing its benefits, and thereby building and maintaining enthusiasm. The transformative growth of digital processes within your entire organisation is supported by a humanist perspective, according to which automation is valuable in the first place because it allows the workforce to perform more valuable jobs and, consequently, feel more satisfied with their jobs.
How does RPA transform your organisation?
Let’s start with a recap of why automation makes such a significant contribution to the progress of your company and is thus to be seen as a disruptive technology in the most positive sense of the word ‘disruptive’. The following outcomes of robotic process automation provide a rationale for the discussion about its transformative power.
- Financial benefits, e.g., reduction of operational costs, improved return of ROI;
- Streamlining the workflow, by rendering complex processes simpler and more flexible;
- Reduction of security risks;
- Cycle time and accuracy improvements;
- Enhanced operational and business control, e.g., regulatory compliance;
- Improved business analytics and insights;
- Making people (both the employees and the customers) really matter by empowering them and making them feel more satisfied.
Last but certainly not least, RPA implementation can be viewed as an entry-level strategy towards digital transformation. The pilot stage is the step that starts the journey, while scaling RPA makes headway by standardising the company’s approach to automation. In the transformation phase, the employees themselves are responsible for identifying suitable processes for automation, while the Centre of Excellence has the oversight of RPA deployment.
What are the best practices for successful ways to scale robotic process automation and to meet the inherent challenges of scaling? In line with the current topic of discussion, we will define ‘successful’ in terms of leading the way towards digital transformation by redesigning the approach to automation.
1. Start with the end in mind
The decision to scale RPA is made by the business unit, but it’s the IT department that has to deal with the ‘nitty-gritty’ details, such as managing configurations and software distributions, providing technical resources, ensuring security, tracking and addressing incidents, etc.
The take-home message is that backward reasoning from the RPA-related objectives that you aim for towards the appropriate actions of the IT staff, i.e., a clear-cut, long-term strategy for attaining these goals, maximises the success of these technical operations.
2. Be prepared with an emergency plan
‘Emergency’ stands for troublesome occasions when systems go down, and the software robots must be restarted. Yes, let’s face it, it can happen! And it’s better to be prepared and know how to deal with it when it does. The use of mirrored environments is one possible approach, which allows companies to turn to them in case they are faced with widespread system failures.