What are some typical business processes that no organisation, including your own, can do without? A few examples are invoicing, billing, accounts payable, compliance, onboarding and offboarding, data management, etc.
Do these processes involve menial, monotonous tasks, that your employees must perform? How much time do they spend scanning databases, looking for the specific information they need, entering it in the right cell of the right Excel file?
Does this time decrease their capacity for more valuable, creative, and productive work? Do you find it difficult to handle the errors that come natural with employees’ fatigue and weariness?
In case your answers are affirmative, it is quite likely that you are open to the salutary effects of technological advancement. And since RPA is promising gains like improved throughput rates, improved process adherence and standardization, or increased productivity, to name but a few, we believe that a guide to a successful robotic process automation implementation might serve you well.
How to ensure a successful robotic process automation (RPA) implementation
The list below is meant to help you design an appropriate plan to approach the digital mode of doing business, and to make the most of RPA implementation.
1. Start by identifying the processes most amenable to automation
Since software robots are largely designed to handle tasks that allow a clear formulation in conditional format, rule based processes are the primary candidates. Processes that can be evaluated against a known cost and/or time basis should also be considered, because their savings are measurable and so the impact of automation can be rigorously tracked.
Error prone, low fault tolerance, high volume, mature, company specific, or irregular labour demands are other features that can help you make an efficient process selection. It might be useful to know that as many as 60% of back office processes have such features.
You can find here some process-related questions that are worth asking in order to make a correct decision. The answers are likely to assist you in picking those processes that promise the greatest benefits when automated. Prior to implementation, you can also consider process improvements, i.e., simplification, reductions in the necessary programming and auditing effort, enhancement of customer experience, etc.
2. Focus on the departments that rely mostly on the selected processes
This, just like the previous point, is a strategic way to go for quick wins. By doing so, you establish a strong foundation that is most likely conducive to a successful enterprise wide automation journey. Since sales operations are largely ‘automation friendly’ (in the sense described above), the sales department might be your first option.
In the HR department, you may start from recruitment and employee onboarding. Data and contract validation processes recommend the use of RPA in legal departments. In finance departments, you may consider RPA deployment for O2C, consolidations, or reporting.
3. Choose the right RPA tool for your company
The first thing on your to do list is to have a crystal-clear set of objectives that your company aims towards. Two sets of criteria should help you to make an optimal choice regarding the RPA tool you will work with.
On the one hand, you should consider vendor related criteria, such as their experience or their orientation to future-proof automation solutions. On the other hand, you should try to match the RPA software features, like security and screen scraping capabilities, ease of implementation, total cost of ownership, etc., to your company’s hierarchy of goals and needs.
4. Plan the automation journey according to a thorough assessment of economic profitability
This step refers to a fine-grained analysis of the feasibility of RPA implementation per department. You basically want to compare investment against return, and to decide based on this to what extent it is profitable to invest in RPA. It is recommendable to involve the stakeholders in this evaluation.