When you see the word “robotic”, you’re likely to imagine something out of a science fiction movie. Or maybe you’ll picture a modern-day assembly line. But Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has nothing to do with those assumptions. RPA is an application of technology that frees up employees to focus on higher priorities by eliminating tedious, often repetitive tasks.
This is important for today’s CIOs, who are increasingly seeking ways for technology to positively impact the bottom line. RPA does just that by delivering increased efficiency. Yet as is the case with most business tools, RPA requires proper design, planning and governance to truly meet its promise.
For those unfamiliar, RPA automates processes based on business logic and structured inputs. This technology allows enterprises to capture and interpret applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses, and communicating with other digital systems.
CIOs appreciate RPA due to the simple equation of how it streamlines operations to cut costs. Team members get more time to serve customers or work on strategic initiatives, which ultimately eliminates unnecessary staff and reduces human error. Overall, RPA lets your people focus on their expertise while technology takes care of the trivial yet necessary tasks that can slow down revenue-generating efforts.
As an example, you can deploy bots for repetitive tasks such as copying and pasting information between business systems. Bots are cost-effective and easy to implement, allowing your organization to grow without exorbitant new spending. In fact, work capacity can increase by as much as 50% with software robots.
To enhance your automation initiatives even more, you can add cognitive technologies such as machine learning and speech recognition to RPA. This can automate more sophisticated tasks that have traditionally required human perception and judgment.
But just because RPA simplifies process doesn’t mean that it’s simple to implement; RPA can be complicated due to a number of factors, including legacy business processes and the potential level of change management needed for RPA to provide maximum value.
That’s why it’s critical to set and manage expectations from the outset. While it’s possible to see relatively fast results, getting the best of RPA at scale takes considerable time and patience. Poor performance is typically due to unrealistic expectations.
It’s also important to have the right perspective. RPA can indeed provide a strong ROI and reduce costs, but try to expand the possibilities. Case in point: RPA can greatly improve the customer experience by providing them with information while they wait for help, either in line or on the phone.
Another aspect that affects success is the quality – or lack thereof – of RPA implementation. Of course, this may be stating the obvious to technology professionals – projects will always fail when they’re not properly designed and managed. Yet it’s important to be reminded that in the rush to deployment, CIOs can forget about the communication exchanges that will be necessary between the bots. This is why before implementation, you have to consider the operating model and map out how the bots will connect with each other.
While you consider the keys to successful RPA implementation, don’t overlook project governance. It’s absolutely critical to plan for contingencies. For example, we recently heard the story of an employee who changed the company’s password policy but no one programmed the bots to adjust. This mistake caused the company to lose data and, in turn, potential future revenue.
As you can see, CIOs must consistently monitor and assess where the cracks may be in the RPA system and provide safety mechanisms. Yet CIOs have their plates full with enterprise-wide strategic projects; they need help to maintain and improve the health the RPA ecosystem. We’ve found that the most successful RPA implementations include a staff that measure results and adjust as necessary to meet business objectives.
Anyone who’s been around long enough knows that there’s no secret formula for perfect implementation. Adding an RPA system to your network is no different. The key is to approach the project with an intelligent automation mindset. More so, CIOs must see RPA as a long-term commitment, and have patience that the rewards will be consistent and incremental. Trust the robots – unlike in science fiction, these one are here to help you.