The most of companies have been building and developing their RPA capabilities since last 3-4 years. Therefore, as everybody new to that, it’s difficult to find “market best practices” for building an RPA capability at your organization.
What is the right way to do this? What type of support should each level/part of the organization provide? How do we define right RPA Leader’s, the person responsible for implementation, skills, authorities?
And why all of those questions are important to answer?
How do we define right RPA Leader’s, the person responsible for implementation, skills, authorities?
The right RPA Leader is very important as that is going to play a key role in enabling entire automation for the organization. RPA can be treated as a new program/project so potentially a Project/Program Manager could be the right person? Not fully. RPA is a unique domain where you bring business process knowledge and technical knowledge together, in addition to project management. That’s why the person we are looking for has;
- Good technical knowledge (to understand what is he/she proposing the stakeholders to use. And to sell how simpler RPA tools to use vs. typical IT systems).
- High-level business process and subprocess knowledge (to point out specific subprocess where potentially automation can apply).
- Detailed business tools/systems knowledge (to use technical arguments like how RPA tools will interact with their systems which used to perform the process by operational teams (like ERP systems) – yes, not only process knowledge).
- A good Change Manager (to create curiosity, wonder, and demand, to manage the end-to-end change process from the manual workforce to a virtual workforce).
- Experience in Lean Six Sigma, Continuous Improvement, Process Re-engineering and so on (to simplify the processes prior to automation – Otherwise garbage in, garbage out).
- A great negotiator and sales skills (to convince people resistance to RPA implementation, in fact, the most of the efforts being spent here).
- Extensive organizational knowledge (to understand how entire business operates and define the right people to get support from, to see correlations between different workstreams/functions for a holistic approach).
- Experience in Service Management or ITIL (to build the right governance around automation and ensure business continuity – when power is gone, the operational team might sleep at the company to handle workload).
I could indeed add more but these items are I would say a “must”. We are talking about Digital Transformation which is not easy to drive, especially successfully!
What type of support should each level/part of the organization provide?
Before going into details, request (demand) of establishing automation capabilities should come from the CEO of the organization. If not CEO, then anybody from Steering Committee. If not Steering Committee, the Operating Committee. Well, that would be the happiest path! If we look at the reality, in most of the organizations it comes from operational analysts, middle management, a project manager or consulting firm that you work with and so on.
Therefore we will focus on after demand is being raised by anybody and RPA Leader assigned to build it. In this case;
- Steering Committee of the organization should be the sponsor by funding the implementation and setting a high-level vision. And if also they will set it as one of the “strategic objectives” of the organization, that would be the best!
- Business Process Owner should provide support in case of any change requires in the process, subprocess.
- Operations/Team Managers should provide support in SME (Subject Matter Expert) assignments specific to automation project where deep process knowledge needed and empower their team members who have the ability to develop automation, as an extended arm of core automation team.
- Lean Six Sigma, Continuous Improvement or Quality teams should provide support in proposing use cases, the process standardization/optimization prior to automation. Also, support on calculating project benefits (time per each transaction, weekly/monthly/annual transaction amounts, defining process bottlenecks etc.)
- Information Technology (IT) SOX, IT Security, IT Infrastructure should open for request of flexibility on virtual workforces (non-stop running machines, non-expired passwords for RPA service accounts, high internet bandwidth, less bureaucracy on development/deployment of bots and so on)
- Operating Committee, Change Delivery, Business Process Owners should provide support in the creation of global or local, but a central team. This team will include mix skills and will be sitting in a gray zone between IT and Business.
This list easily can extend or vary
What is the right way to do this?
It is difficult to give a straight answer as it all depends on the organization. However, I can define it based on current experience existing in the market as following;
- Find a consulting firm or hire an expert to support you in defining automation opportunities and potential weight (like 40% of processes can be automated which worths $6M of net saving).
- Define right strategy to either build internal capability or hire consultant according to potential savings (estimated Return on Investment after initial assessment) – Building internal capability always beneficial so far, due to the high cost of consultant firms
. Define the right RPA toolkit based on your organization’s systems, employee skill-sets, process complexity, RPA vision, scalability desire.
- Acquire an initial automation team (4-5 should be enough for the beginning) to prove the power of automation or to analyze internal processes and develop prove of concepts. Here, the target is low hanging fruits meaning, less complex processes (copy/paste, data validations, repeating transactions etc.)
- Extend team to start doing process simplification and documentation, massive automation development, maintain the virtual workforces (usually it’s desktop automation for straightforward processes)
- Extend the skills in the team for scaling up automation towards Intelligent Automation (integrating RPA with cognitive services)Keep optimizing and maintaining automation scripts
This is the most generic and high-level process to build up automation capabilities but again, in each of the organizations, there will be different aspects to consider.
In this article, I wanted to provide an awareness at different angles of automation, which must be considered and known prior to even talking about RPA at your organization. This will have a direct influence on your successful implementation or the failure of the program.