How to Scale with Robots: Automation Done Right
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the way of the future when it comes to successfully scaling your business, but doing it well is more complex than a one-size-fits-all approach.
In fact, the most often overlooked yet vital step towards reaping the long-term rewards of automation is understanding that there can be no RPA without process.
When implemented as a quick fix, failure can be hard and fast for your business, but when automation is built organically over time, the benefits can be vast. RPA saves businesses time and money, reduces rework, improves accuracy and frees employees from menial tasks, provided you take a strategic approach to implementation and scaling up.
Simplify, then automate
The ‘enterprise approach’ considers RPA through an organisation-wide lens. It looks at the big-picture potential by understanding end-to-end processes first, before prioritising areas for improvement. Only then, after defining clear objectives, is automation implemented.
By capturing and documenting current processes, you can assess variances to determine how to apply RPA correctly and to its potential, at scale. This will clean up any waste and redundant measures that might be slowing your organisation down, while identifying business areas that will benefit most from RPA.
The key here is to optimise first, and automate later. This approach is crucial to ensure you address the right problems, rather than simply doing the wrong things, faster.
Robots are not as robust as humans - if they fail, they fail repeatedly. That’s why it is critical to use modelling as a means of driving implementation. After all, it’s easier and cheaper to test and fix a model than to realise a final implemented process isn’t working as intended.
RPA cannot be implemented across a complete process. Modelling allows you to simulate which tasks within a process meet a specified rate of return. You can then use this information to rollout your RPA solution to other areas of your organisation. In short, models help you prioritise and guarantee the dependability of your final automated process.
It’s a common misconception that RPA is implemented to replace human workers. In reality, digital workforces are best suited to work alongside real people because they augment human behaviours.
Having employees onboard with RPA is vital to a smooth rollout. When implemented in the right way, RPA can have a positive effect on workplace culture, as employees are liberated from monotonous tasks to focus on more engaging work suited to their talents and interests. It’s important to stress that RPA cannot replace creative thinking, strategic planning, long-term projects, product development or customer research.
Build internal support for RPA by finding employees to champion the rollout among workers. While every staff member should be informed about the automation process, honing in on a handful of passionate individuals to share the benefits of RPA will help avoid speculation and rumours about the intentions behind introducing an RPA solution.
The earlier this happens, the better! A key component of enterprise-level automation is capturing existing knowledge and insights from staff before implementing automation. If they’re informed, they’ll be more receptive to providing feedback, which will lead to a stronger foundation for automation.
Track and trace
Once the automation rollout is complete, it is crucial to monitor the execution of the redesigned process. Any return on investment can only be proven by measuring results over time, so monitoring the results of your RPA solution against its expected value is crucial to ensuring value for money is being achieved.
Complacency is detrimental to automation, as a 'set and neglect' attitude will quickly see your optimised processes fall out of date. Ongoing monitoring of your RPA solutions will also mean issues can be identified and resolved quickly, and the processes themselves can be continually refined.The best way to successfully scale your business is to start practicing a regular cycle of optimisation as you work towards increasing efficiency across a broader range of processes.
It is a long journey to achieve enterprise-level automation, but the benefits of implementing it properly far outweigh the short-term and unsustainable results you’ll see from a quick fix. Patience will lead to RPA longevity; you just have to learn to appreciate the process first.