RPA’s - Think Globally and Act Locally - 5 Steps to Get Going
Updated: Sep 6, 2022
We all have a few repetitive work processes that we find annoying! We log into some site, then grab some information from one application, and we “update” another application with that very information. We do these things accompanied by a little twinge that signals time could be better spent. What if we packaged up some of these boring steps and got to push further into more meaningful work?
This has happened to you. Step back and think of this experience happening several times a day to your colleagues. There are some real hours lost in these unimaginative system-to-system tasks. If you are with me, you want to find out how you can make a change that lasts and helps people use their creative capabilities across the company in a more efficient way.
These 5 steps show you how you can think globally across your company and act locally with your RPA (robotic process automation) program.
Step 1: Start small and be tactical
- Build out process flows. Interview people you work with that may have some repetitive tasks that you know something about. Ask them about how those tasks start and what causes them to end. Ask about the systems and processes that are dependent on these tasks. Outline a process flow indicating the start, middle, and the end so that you could explain it (quickly teach it) to someone whose not familiar with the work. Break the work down into logical chunks.
Step 2: Decide if this is a Business Unit Approach or an Enterprise Program
- It depends on your situation and the company’s appetite for scaled change. There is no harm in getting a free version of an RPA tool or working with a developer to build a quick bot for your start-small plan. If there is a real need in the company, your start-small approach will give you and an executive champion the ability to demonstrate real ROI before you try to win hearts and minds across your department/company.
Step 3: Get the Executive Team involved
- Build a summary benefit analysis of the flows outlined in Step 1. Prioritize one to three items that are related and estimate the time involved in these processes. Look at the time it takes to access systems, and copy information. Calculate the delay and opportunity cost when something does not happen on time or if the data was copied incorrectly. Outline your cost-benefit analysis and show the expected benefit. Build a working prototype with freeware or borrowed time from a developer friend. Couple the benefit analysis with the performing prototype to gain an executive sponsor that will guide and support you.
Step 4: Decide if you should officially start Change Management
Maybe you have leveraged your small start into a big opportunity. In no time, you will be working with other departments. Now is the time to pause and go back to Step 2, deciding if you are taking a business unit or an enterprise program approach. It is perfectly fine if the company is not in the right spot for an enterprise RPA program and you should continue to act locally. Better to know now than create a disjointed franken-program where you have different teams starting RPA efforts using different developers or platforms.
Pushing forward without a change management program can be costly and draining for your most talented team members. To scale enterprise-wide you need a change management program or COE (center of excellence) to support you and ensure predictable change.
Step 5: Build a Center of Excellence (COE) / RPA Central
- Call it what you want... I think COE can be a term that isolates. I often prefer RPA Central. When building this RPA Central team, you are looking to staff roles that endure and are needed for the long term. You can create roles and hand them to existing team members, however, this signals a lack of commitment. It can be interpreted as not important if people are being handed new tasks but not being supported in their original/previous work. This is where Executive support from step 3 comes in handy. Use the following outline to help frame the need for a staffed RPA Central team.
RPA Central will be critical for the following:
o Communicating deeply and widely about what is changing
o Building consistent process flows and programming RPA bots in a consistent fashion
o Unifying on a business case-based approach to prioritizing RPAs
o Working closely with IT, Security, and Governance to ensure RPA Central is facilitating sustainable change.
Whether you change your business unit with a few RPAs or change the entire company with an RPA Central team, success begins with a local win. Take your time and enlist people to understand the value of building a consistent RPA method that scales when the time is right. Hopefully, your time is now.
Info: There are 4 basic types of RPAs
1st – Highly customizable Finance/Accounting software
2nd – General Screen / Scraping and document population
3rd – Self-development, a developer builds a software-based custom robot
4th – Enterprise RPA, software that scales
RPA, UiPath, Pega, Blue Prism, WDG, automation anywhere