What is RPA and how do we go about making sure it’s used properly.

Deploying RPA isn’t always straightforward, we know we have done it many times and we have learnt a lot from working with companies to help them scope, deploy and manage their RPA deployments. In this short article, we share some of the common advice we give our clients.

What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
• Quite simply, it’s software. This software is often referred to as robotic because it mimics the keystrokes and actions of people on a computer to automate their processes. It (in simple terms) will use a keyboard and mouse to go about its business. For example. just ike its human counterpart, it can open Outlook, read emails, take information from that email, log in using an id to a separate system to validate data and action according to the needs of the business. This could be to open another database and insert this data into the correct fields or create an excel spreadsheet or go online and action there. It’s so versatile (as it navigates as we do through a PC) that it can touch/action multiple systems quickly and easily.

As this software will automate what used to be done by a human it’s important to follow a set formula for implementation.

• Often what can be automated is quite different to what you may initially think. Understanding business needs are paramount as we have often found that we can to positively impact other parts of the business as part of the process. An example could be a centralised reporting repository fully automated with permissions for different teams.
To avoid delays and errors in your planning and rollout should utilise the experience of specialists who will understand your business and the capability of automation software to help identify processes for automation.

Identify  & Rank what can and should or should not be automated

• Where do you start? We hear this all the time, as it’s a very important question. Do you go for something big or small, large ROI or a smaller test case? This can be a hard choice as different people will have different ideas and cost/proving a business case is often the deciding factor for initial deployments when really a smaller test case, which is rapidly deployed, may actually prove greater business value as it can highlight other areas to automate. The key, as we see it based on the above, is to identify possible processes and then rank according to your internal criteria. Doing this means you can pick somewhere to start. And what we often see next may surprise you, as the benefits of automation become evident in the business, teams that were initially dubious will be chasing to see what they can automate!

Scope / Optimize

• The first stage of the project is to scope and Optimize the workflow so the software robot will perform the workflow in the most efficient manner. Once implemented it will just keep running so it should be right on day one and have expectations clearly defined.

Short/quick sprint implementations

• It is possible to have fast deployments if Sprint methodology, is adopted, scope, build – UAT, implement,  go live. Depending on the processes(s) / workflow we break into sections and implement accordingly.

Redeploy staff

• Now that the bulk of a team’s work has been automated what will you do with them? What projects or improvements have not been made within the business because of a shortage of headcount. Are there teams that need help?

Become self-sufficient

• In time, training one or two people in-house on automation will be important. As bots become the norm you will have more in your infrastructure so its good to have the ability to manage them yourself. While the initial set up requires experience and the input of consultants small tweaks, updates, should not be something you pay professional service rates to amend.

Reap the reward

• Removing high volumes of manual tasks from your staff workload allows a better concentration of activities for complex tasks.
• Where employees are performing high-volume, highly transactional process functions, RPA will boost their capabilities and save money and time.
• Scalability – Manual tasks can slow you down if you’re trying to rapidly scale for new business & platform for new growth – this new era of Technology is being adopted by your competitors and you need to access its suitability for your business.
• Increased Compliance – When you perform critical tasks manually, it’s easy to jeopardize compliance.
• Eliminate Inconsistent Workflows – Staff within the same team all performing an identical process in different ways.
• Eliminate Data Entry Errors – manual repetition can cause errors that lead to delays.
• Combat Increasing Labour Costs – factor in training, payroll, facilities, equipment – a high cost for people to copy and paste.

We are happy to provide further information on both a formal and informal basis so give us a call or drop us an email.