This article was initially published in February 2018 and has been updated in September 2020.
Are you still wondering whether implementing robotic process automation is the right decision for your company? Since rule based activities are core tasks for most enterprises, and that employees waste up to a quarter of their time on these manual repetitive tasks — it is quite likely that the short answer is ‘yes’.
Robotic process automation can make a significant contribution to turning time-wasting activities into effective use of time for higher-value jobs, leading to improved job satisfaction for employees, and to higher productivity for the whole company.
The quick and significant ROI that it provides is also worth considering. According to McKinsey, revenue growth during the first year after RPA implementation falls between 30% and 200%.
That being said, let’s take a look at 6 still very relevant RPA best practices that will help you achieve maximum gain after implementation.
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Where does RPA currently stand?
Worldwide use of robotic process automation has led to significant, positive impacts on business productivity. According to Deloitte, RPA has become a “top priority for global business service leaders” across the industry landscape. Sectors such as banking, insurance and financial services have led the charge with their uptake of RPA to date. Pleasingly, the range of industries now investing in or actively investigating robotic process automation is growing, including manufacturing, utilities, mining, hospitality and FMCG, to name a few.
With its non-intrusive and flexible architecture, an automation scope that encompasses such a wide range of applications and business processes, and its ability to facilitate better management of the changing labour market, robotic process automation has become more than merely a viable option.
Indeed, extrapolating RPA’s growth trajectory into the near future would imply adoption as a necessary step that competitive businesses must take. According to the Institute for Robotic Process Automation and Artificial Intelligence Survey from June 2017, 66% of respondents were considering expansion of robotic process automation programs and 70% were allocating increased funds for investment in 2018.
Zoom in on Australia
According to Beverley Head for ComputerWeekly — one of the most ardent concerns of Australian businesses with respect to automation will be innovation.
To this end, companies will focus on sourcing bright (human) minds who can fuse the best of both worlds — human intelligence and collective experience, with the power of process automation. Such automation is expected to work hand-in-hand with broader company mandates to provide personalised products and services that provide the best possible customer experience.
In CiGen’s feature in the Australian Financial Review, Leigh Pullen, Executive Director and co-founder says of the Australian landscape: “RPA has moved to proven technology and is providing tangible benefits to the companies that deploy it”.
Let us now list some of the robotic process automation best practices that can help to lock in these tangible benefits.
Top 6 robotic process automation (RPA) best practices
1. Select the processes to be automated wisely
CiGen’s Leigh Pullen states that in order to tap into the vast potential of robotics, it is essential to begin an RPA implementation with those business processes that are best suited for automation. Selection should be made based on criteria such as:
- Mature, stable processes — processes that are stable, predictable and well documented, with operation costs that are consistent and well defined
- Low exception rates — low rate of variable outcomes that would otherwise require complex human intervention
- Measurable savings — cost savings and/or benefits gained can typically be expressed in terms of greater accuracy, faster response times, lower cost base, etc.
- High volume / high frequency — these processes often provide a faster ROI
2. Understand the human resources required to build your automation projects
People are at the heart of any successful, sustainable robotic process automation program. There is no “one size fits all” approach to building an RPA team, so taking the time to evaluate your options is key. Will you look to build your team from internal talent, who may have an existing knowledge of business processes and ideal automation opportunities?
Do you prefer to hit the ground running by working with a specialised RPA consultancy, who can build, implement and manage the automation projects for you? Or perhaps a blend of both, where your internal Centre of Excellence is initially guided and trained by an RPA consultancy, before taking full control themselves? Answering these questions at the beginning of your automation journey will help drive a more successful outcome.
3. Have an “RPA sponsor” with a holistic, centralised vision of the road towards RPA implementation
It is crucial that automated processes remain compatible with all the other procedures of your business. Merging of RPA into the overall functionality is therefore a must. This is why having someone who can have a “bird’s eye view” over all the relevant aspects facilitates efficient implementation on a larger scale.
PlantAutomation-technology and ETtech take this one step further and recommend that such a person be an executive sponsor, or someone who can also handle the financial aspects of implementation. Relatedly, an RPA centre of excellence (COE) might ensure the right level of centralisation, which is likely to provide not just short-term process automation but also a coherent longer-term plan.