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Chapter 1

Automation & RPA Center of Excellence

At this point in your automation journey, you’re starting to learn the lingo. What you’re after now is guidance for making your organizations’ enterprise automation a success.

That means building a Center of Excellence (CoE).

Your CoE team serves as the foundation for all your automation efforts. It ensures automated processes maintain best practices and achieve value for your organization.

In this article, we'll walk you through SS&C Blue Prism's best practices for building an efficient and effective automation CoE to achieve better return on investment (ROI). After all, effective intelligent automation (IA) – and RPA by association – is what we do best.

Automation & RPA Center of Excellence (CoE)

What Even is an RPA Center of Excellence (CoE)?

Before we delve deeper, let's make sure we're on the same page.

An IA or RPA Center of Excellence (CoE) is a group of skilled individuals within your organization who oversee the implementation and governance of robotic process automation (RPA) and other automation solutions.

Sometimes it’s called the ‘RPA team’ or ‘automation team’.

While RPA automates repetitive, mundane tasks that would otherwise consume valuable human resources, the CoE chooses exactly which business processes get automated and which automation tools to use.

Part of their governance includes:

  • Identifying, assessing and prioritizing processes for automation.
  • Designing, building and running process automations.
  • Training people in SS&C Blue Prism products and best practices.

The CoE ensures the automation infrastructure meets the needs of the business and that it continues to run reliably once in operation.

Wondering what good IA or RPA implementation looks like? Check out our most common RPA use cases.

Why do you need an RPA CoE?

An automation Center of Excellence is essential to generating RPA ROI. They manage automation so that it's an asset to your business rather than a hassle.

Without them and their expertise in RPA and the robotic operating model (ROM), your automation journey might not reach its full potential. The SS&C | Blue Prism® Robotic Operating Model (ROM) is a proven implementation methodology that guides organizations through every step of their automation journey.

Here are the top six benefits of establishing a CoE in your organization:

  • Process ideation: The CoE identifies suitable processes for automation, ensuring optimal utilization of RPA technology to enhance overall productivity.
  • Education: The CoE is responsible for training and upskilling team members in SS&C Blue Prism products and best practices, fostering a strong culture of continuous learning and improvement.
  • Governance and standard owners: By establishing and maintaining standards for automation, the CoE ensures consistency and quality across the entire organization.
  • Gatekeeper for tech advances: The CoE keeps your organization ahead of the curve by staying informed of technological advancements in automation and evaluating their potential benefits.
  • Risk mitigation: The CoE helps identify and manage risks associated with automation projects, ensuring that potential issues are addressed proactively.
  • Innovators: The CoE encourages innovation and fosters a collaborative environment where new ideas can thrive, driving continuous improvement and growth within your organization.

RPA CoE Setup: Our Best Practices

To help you set up a CoE that starts your automation journey on the right foot, we've outlined four crucial steps below.

  1. Choose your CoE organizational model
  2. Fill your CoE roles and responsibilities
  3. Follow the RPA CoE framework
  4. Take automation beyond RPA

Choose your CoE organizational model

Selecting the right organizational model for your automation CoE is critical to its success.

Your choice will depend on your organization's size, structure and objectives. Common CoE models can be centralized or decentralized approaches.

Centralized model

Most organizations begin with a centralized model, where RPA is delivered from one place: from process discovery to designing, building, testing and running. This makes training and alignment easier than if you chose a decentralized or hybrid model.

Decentralized model

Decentralized models have automation efforts distributed across teams in an organization. You might have people in HR and finance overseeing the overarching automation strategy.

Fill your CoE roles and responsibilities

Assembling the right team is vital for the success of your RPA CoE.

You’ll need to identify and fill an executive sponsor, the head of RPA (or head of automation), developers, process analysts, test analysts and process controllers.

The core CoE roles are head of RPA, developer and process analyst – which is all you’ll need at the start. You can introduce the others as your organization scales its automation program.

Ensure that your team members possess the necessary skills, expertise and knowledge to manage the diverse aspects of RPA implementation, from process analysis and development to change management and IT support.

RPA Center of Excellence Structure

Here are the responsibilities of each role at a glance:

Executive sponsor — Champions the RPA program and leads the automation journey in your organization.

Head of RPA — Oversees IA and RPA capability and implements the ROM.

IA/RPA Developer — Builds process automations and follows and maintains solution documentation.

Process analyst — Identifies optimal processes for automation.

Test analyst — Identifies and breaks down all necessary tasks and tests automated processes.

Controller — Manages RPA processes and communicates software-related issues, suggesting improvements as they run.

Follow the RPA CoE framework

This framework should encompass governance, methodologies and tools that provide guidance on process identification, prioritization and risk management.

And it will be built by the head of RPA/head of automation in your CoE.

By following a robust CoE framework, your organization will benefit from efficient decision-making, project prioritization and ongoing process improvement.

Take automation beyond RPA, to intelligent automation

While RPA is an important component of automation programs, you should explore the potential of intelligent automation (IA).

IA combines RPA with advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). This integration enhances business processes, enabling automation of more complex tasks with increased efficiency.

By incorporating IA into your CoE's strategy, your organization will be better positioned to stay ahead in the rapidly evolving automation landscape.

Be Wary of Common CoE Pitfalls

Being aware of potential pitfalls when setting up your automation CoE will help you avoid them and ensure the long-term success of your automation initiatives.

Not having a head of automation

The head of automation is responsible for evangelizing RPA and IA across all levels and optimizing its benefits.

Choosing the wrong people for CoE roles

People are essential for successful automation deployment. It’s crucial to have the right skills and responsibilities in place for effective project execution and business process management (BPM). And make sure they’re interested in the job!

Lack of training

Keep your team up to date with SS&C Blue Prism certification paths tailored to specific RPA skills. You can regularly review and update your approach to maintain relevance and ensure experienced team members complete the necessary training.

Lack of mentoring

An often overlooked but vital aspect of RPA programs is mentorship. Engaging experienced mentors accelerates the growth of your team and ensures adherence to standards from the outset.

Your CoE team can also join the SS&C Blue Prism Community to engage with other like-minded people, discuss automation tips and tricks, and ask questions.

Lack of scalability consideration

When building your CoE, consider its potential to scale in terms of structure, human-digital teams and processes. Factor in training paths to future-proof your team and plan for additional roles as needed.


About the Author

Alexis Veenendaal

Alexis Veenendaal is an Associate Content Writer and Editor at SS&C Blue Prism. She’ll tell you all the cool tips and tricks for implementing intelligent automation into your workplace. She has lived and worked internationally as a professional writer and designer for nearly a decade after graduating from the University of Lethbridge for English Literature. Her personal pursuits include authoring books and digital cartography.

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Next: Chapter 2

IA and RPA Governance Best Practices

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