By Sean Ammon, Managing Director, CIBA
In this digital era, organisations are seeking innovative ways to improve their process performance, connect to their customers faster and in more meaningful ways, and gain the financial benefits that naturally flow from these enhanced operations. To achieve this, businesses are embarking on Robotic Process Automation (RPA) journeys. While RPA can be broken down into Intelligent Automation, which consists of business process discovery, document automation, robotic process automation, and analytics and insights, these transformational voyages can often be riddled with challenges and pitfalls.
RPA Challenges and How to Avoid Them
The Business Case: Clients often fall short on step one of the journey – it’s around creating the need, the justification, and the business case for RPA. This is critically important because somehow the expenditure, distraction, and investment for the organisation needs to be tied back into a quantified number that makes sense for the organisation.
We work with clients to help them define the business case for RPA. Sometimes, the business case is very weak – not because their financial modelling or thought concept skills are weak – but because they haven’t identified the right processes for a use case. It becomes an absolute necessity for organisations to understand what, realistically, can (or needs to) be automated.
CIBA goes through a thorough Business Process Discovery process using an artificially intelligent toolset that monitors people’s work. It mimics human intelligence and monitors every click and keystroke from different inputs, puts together a process flow, a utilisation map, and a heat map, and it can generate a process-definition document (PDD) which easily identifies inefficiencies in the process.
Based on this PDD, we tie the right automation candidates back to the business case, ensuring that it is feasible and implementable, and that it will deliver results for the business.
Prioritization: When identifying processes to optimise and automate, organisations often choose processes that are too complex or too simple. Complex processes never get solved; the business does not receive the benefit. Simple processes are too easy and do not offer any business benefit. It is important to find the middle ground or the sweet spot.
As with deciding a business case for automating, prioritising these cases falls to our AI-powered toolset – Business Process Discovery. It is important to understand the 4 quadrants for prioritising processes for automation; complexity must be considered in conjunction with the benefit of automating that process.
RPA Software Choice: Due to historical decisions or decisions from higher management teams are often swayed to use certain tools. Does it matter? Short answer: yes – we have found it matters in terms of scale.
If you are an enterprise grade client, you typically do not want to use something that is freeware, as it has limited support. Ideally businesses must use an enterprise-grade product that is going to integrate easily into their ERP, backend systems, and other supporting systems.
The conversation can then become around solutions such as UiPath, Automation Anywhere, or BluePrism. We offer a full analysis of the environment to see which products works best.
We look at each product set for its strengths, and capitalise on those. This could lead to a hybridisation of these technologies across the way the clients automate in their environments.
No Organisational Buy-In: In some cases, clients neglect taking their people along during their digital transformation journeys. There is no buy-in, awareness, understanding, or commitment from people to understand why they should be automating.
There are cases where there is a lot of push back internally, causing low levels of adoption – and leading the project to be considered a failed implementation.
A thorough change management process/programme is a facet that we make mandatory as part of every implementation, ensuring that people are empowered along the way.
Positioning: Where does RPA live? RPA always finds itself within the IT space, where it should rather live in business and be supported and aligned by IT. Often we find IT owning this, and there is no progress made because there is a lack of understanding of the business drivers and how customers interact with these sorts of systems.
CIBA’s expert approach guides clients to ensure that RPA implementations are a business prerogative, driven by IT. By adopting a change management programme, all business units are aligned for effective and successful implementation, management, and scaling.
Fear-mongering: It is well believed that automation technologies will replace human beings, replace jobs. RPA should rather be framed as an ancillary solution to optimise processes and provide people with an entry point into a digital ecosystem.
At this augmentation point that the world finds itself in, man and machine work best together. This is the best way to approach these projects, driven by our change management programmes. People are empowered to learn, upskill, and grow themselves: finding value within themselves and for themselves in this digital ecosystem.