By Shaun C. Dawson - CEO, Robiquity
Some companies get a lot of value out of their intelligent process. Other companies struggle to produce any return on their investment.
Why the discrepancy?
Organizations that are skillful at digital transformation may find these skills do not translate into the successful use of Intelligent Automation. Intelligent Automation can drive transformation faster using fewer resources. However, organizations may have difficulty sustaining and scaling activities.
Companies need the right people, procedures, and structures to produce consistent and sustainable results from their efforts.
Steps Toward Generating Value From Intelligent Automation
Businesses can take steps to get more from their investment. First, they should align Intelligent Automation strategy with the company’s vision and mission. Next, they should elevate personnel by leaving mundane, repeatable tasks to automation. Getting the backing of key stakeholders helps ensure that efforts will be successful. Finally, work with IT. Business and IT resources must work in concert for your business to get the most out of your investment.
Take an Organized Approach to Automation
Companies fret about where an effective Intelligent Automation practice should be positioned. Businesses need to choose an approach and execute it.
Organizations must stop thinking of centralized, federated, and siloed approaches as competing approaches. Each approach works for a different level of maturity.
Most successful businesses start with a centralized model. A centralized model allows the company to establish best practices and win over the company culture. For centralization, your company needs to establish an RPA or Intelligent Automation Center of Excellence that can live in IT, line of business (LOB), or even outside the business.
As the practice matures, begin to federate responsibilities. Opportunity identification is the easiest responsibility to federate. In later stages of maturation, Operations and Development can be federated.
Avoid falling back into a divisional or siloed approach. Lack of collaboration can prevent you from scaling your practice cause your company to backslide.
Identifying Automation Opportunities
When identifying automation opportunities, your company should choose ones that will generate benefits the fastest. Have a good idea of the benefits and potential costs of each opportunity.
The best options for automation are processes that:
- Involve many manual and repetitive tasks
- Suffer from human errors
- Require customer experience improvements, such as faster response times
- Are easy to build
Talk with IT about any maintenance planned for the target applications and determine if process automation should wait until that is finished.
Make sure that you will capture and measure the benefits of automation. Agree on a set of financial, process, quality, and performance-related key performance indicators (KPIs).
Establish meaningful measures of Intelligent Automation value, such as how many hours saved, what processes are automated, and how efforts aligned with and affected core strategic business metrics. These metrics could include contributions to operational efficiency and employee retention.
Consider how to generate demand for Intelligent Automation within the business. Proven demand-generation routes include defining automation champions, running internal communication programs and workshops for engagements, and providing employee incentives for identifying suitable processes.
To start automating processes, create a Process Definition Document (PDD). The PDD captures the correct information in the definition phase to avoid problems. Involve knowledgeable subject matter experts in this activity. Hold a process walk-through for the right audience. Document each chosen process and ensure that everyone has a good understanding of how things will differ from the human process when using the PDD.
There is a great deal of confusion about the purpose of the PDD. Establish clear and concise definitions and proceed from there.
A PDD is a document that establishes an agreement between the business people who expect to see a benefit and the tech people who will build the functionality. Essentially, the business person says, "If you would build me a robot that did this, I would get this benefit." The tech person replies, "I am confident that I can build a robot that does this for more or less this amount of effort."
As such, a properly formed PDD will contain, at a minimum:
- A description of the process as it will be performed by the robot
- The expected benefit and related assumption
- The expected level of effort and related assumptions
Don’t get bogged down in parts of the process that are not going to be automated or implementation details that are not relevant to the business. The process description should outline the steps the robot is going to take to imitate how a human conducts a process today.
Once this has all been agreed with the business and the process-design authority has approved the proposed blueprint and conducted the necessary peer reviews, development can begin.
RPA and Intelligent Automation Operations
Once processes are in production, they need the right support around them. Ensure that digital workers are handing business referrals and exceptions back to the operational team so manual intervention can take place.
A technical capability should be readily available in case the digital workers don’t act as expected. Ultimately, to ensure continuity and availability of automation resources, there must be a robust, supporting IT infrastructure. Give some thought to how you will monitor for the end-to-end result you are striving to achieve.
Training & Retaining the Robotic Process Automation Team
Appointing high-quality lead developers is essential in dealing with the inevitable pain points. These people can be extremely difficult to find in the current market.
Developers will need to be trained to the highest standard in development and process analysis. This way, they can perform in a hybrid role while receiving on-site support from an experienced consultant.
As a development team continues to grow, appoint a design authority to ensure standards are maintained and assign a control-room monitor to manage the production robots. Having the best talent is the lifeblood of any successful initiative.
The Path to Intelligent Automation Maturity
Ultimately, to gain the best results a company must define, as much as possible, the complete journey upfront to minimize the number of mistakes it needs to correct later. Once you gain company-wide support and create a vision of desired results, start delivering and fail fast.
Allow the program to thrive as it scales across the business. Get this mix right and you will create the platform to explore and build more intelligent automation offerings — using AI and other emerging technologies — to maintain innovation and sustainable success.
As RPA and Intelligent Automation skills become more sought after, demand is outweighing supply. It’s worth considering a partner that provides the resources, governance, management, and methodologies to support global learning programs and integrate training into rapidly scaling implementations.
About Robiquity: Robiquity provides the resources, governance, management, and methodologies to support global learning programs and integrates training to rapidly scale implementations.