With all the talk of how robotic process automation (RPA) will revolutionize our working world, companies are feeling the pressure to figure out if and how RPA will work for them. Organizations of all sizes are investing in RPA to complete routine processes faster and at lower cost, hoping to free up human workers to focus on innovation and customer service.
RPA Has Wide Appeal
The list of industries rushing to invest in RPA is long, ranging from banking to manufacturing. Banks reduce costs while providing better and faster customer service thanks to simpler transaction processing, streamlined trade reconciliations and net asset value calculations. Manufacturers, on the other hand, rely on RPA for applications like process quality monitoring for inventory rotation.
As more and more organizations consider investing in the promise of RPA, they can build on the lessons of those who already have some experience with the technology. Here are seven ways you can dip a toe in the water and find the safest way for your organization to start out on its RPA journey.
1. Don’t Rush
Process automation is exciting, causing some companies to rush headlong into making changes to as many processes as they can, as quickly as they can. Introducing new technology this way can disrupt the smooth flow of products and data, causing business and supply chain interruptions and unsettling the workforce.
Instead, take the time to thoughtfully analyze which processes would benefit the most from automation, and then ensure that these processes are running smoothly and are well understood.
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2. Find Quick Wins
It may be tempting to jump into the RPA movement and use the technology to tackle the toughest, most error-prone processes. But it’s better to start small and go for an early success. This allows the team to become comfortable with the new technologies and methodologies without risking shipments or customer service. You can tackle thornier processes later on, as the organization gains confidence with RPA systems.
3. Start Simple
One of the first steps you must may take as you begin working with RPA technology is to chart your current processes, so you understand the existing steps and information flow. Start with a simple process, and plan the automation to handle the typical, routine flow. Build in steps to kick out exceptions for human intervention. As your team becomes more comfortable with automation, you can build in more complex rules, but in the beginning, keep it simple.
4. Get Everyone on the Same Page
RPA could mean major changes to your organization’s business processes and infrastructure. Obviously, the IT team needs to learn the technology, but so do department managers and workers. Be sure to budget time and money for ample education, and don’t be tempted to rush or omit this vital part of your digital transformation journey.
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5. Share Updates Often
As you start to roll out RPA systems, people will naturally want to know “What does this mean for me?” Talk about the upcoming changes and help people to understand their future roles. Many workers find that their jobs are more interesting and fulfilling when robotics handles the routine tasks. Others may find that they need to upgrade their skills. Be respectful of your team by helping them to understand their part in the changes, and let them know about successes and failures as the project rolls out.
6. Prioritize Your Planning
Guard against jumping into RPA without first defining your objectives and then identifying critical milestones and documenting achievements. Think of the move to RPA as a critical business initiative, and treat it the way you would treat the introduction of a new product — as a formal project.
7. Oversee Your Bots
Business teams should know as much as — and more than — their bots. A process platform can help organizations to capture, store and update automated processes so they can be easily accessible by teams at any time, wherever they happen to be. If automation fails, a quick recovery is more likely when teams can see the big picture of what their automated processes look like. If you encourage your people to create the processes for the bots, they will feel a sense of ownership that builds their willingness to accept change and secures their buy-in.