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4 Signs it’s Time to Build an RPA Center of Excellence (CoE)

3 min read
Jun 19, 2023 9:00:00 AM

All organizations with automation programs know that there is great benefit in establishing an RPA Center of Excellence (CoE). However, there is one question that can be difficult to answer: when is the right time is to establish an RPA CoE?

There isn’t a universally accepted answer as to when the right time to build an RPA Center of Excellence, however, there are definite signs to look for that will suggest it might be time to start laying out the framework for one.

Here are the 4 signs to look for that can tell you it’s time your automation practice needs an RPA CoE:

#1 – Your automation practice is starting to scale

The biggest indicator that your automation program is in need of an RPA Center of Excellence is scale. When your number of automations in production starts to grow, the need for an RPA CoE will amplify and it will be difficult to ignore. There are a number of reasons for this.

Primarily, as automation implementation and demand grow within your organization, the need to establish automation standards and governance will become evident. One of the main objectives of an RPA CoE is defining best practices and procedures for all elements of automation delivery, including:

Additionally, once you’re out of the proof of concept and initial adoption phases, a structured and centralized automation team will be required to manage the demand for processes to be automated. The benefits and returns in the form of increased efficiency, productivity, and quality will motivate demand and requests from other areas of the business to automate their processes as well.

With a spike in demand and a growing backlog of processes to automate, an automation Center of Excellence will be needed to accelerate the delivery of those automated processes into production.

#2 – A growing RPA team

As your automation practice grows, so will your RPA team. That means more RPA developers will be needed to tackle the growing backlog of automation candidates and requests, in addition to other stakeholders of a thriving RPA program like business analysts, solution architects, and team leads/managers.

A growing RPA team demands the framework, workflows, standards, and documented practices that an RPA Center of Excellence serves to provide. As your automation team gets bigger, an RPA CoE is precisely the framework and structure needed to guide your practice to increasing application and the returns you’re realizing from automation.

Another major automation element that cries for an RPA CoE is increased attention on monitoring and reporting to keep your automation program on track and successful.

#3 – The need to monitor, track, and report on your automation practice

One of the fundamental responsibilities of an RPA Center of Excellence is tracking the success of an organization’s automation initiative. This involves defining the success metrics that will keep your RPA practice accountable and fostering growth. It also involves tracking and measuring against those metrics to achieve your objectives and making tweaks where necessary to improve performance.

RPA CoE’s also serve to track and monitor the performance of your automations from an operational standpoint. They can identify maintenance issues before they turn into costly outages, as we explain in the next section.

#4 – Proactive maintenance and support are needed

Increasing the size of your automation estate in production means increasing the number of dependencies your automated processes have, and most precariously, increasing the things that can go wrong.

For this reason, a robust analytics strategy and technology are required to monitor your RPA estate in production. A primary responsibility of any RPA CoE is tracking and monitoring the performance of automated processes. Beyond ensuring operational success, this also involves proactive change management to mitigate maintenance issues.

For example, when RPA Centers of Excellence are aware that a system will be updated that may change the User Interface (UI), they can pinpoint which automated processes interact with that system and make any necessary changes ahead of time to avoid potential outages.

Where issues are not pre-emptively caught and change management becomes reactionary, an RPA CoE can act with agility and speed to perform maintenance and support actions needed to minimize an automation throwing errors and failing.

Where organizations are experiencing an abundance of maintenance and support issues in their automation practice clearly indicates that the time has come to create and implement an RPA Center of Excellence.

In conclusion, the case for creating and implementing an RPA CoE is widely understood. All automation programs know the benefits and advantages of having a dedicated, centralized team. However, there’s no benchmark or universal lifecycle point where all organizations will need to establish an RPA CoE. It will be different based on each company’s needs and unique circumstances.

On the other hand, there are tell-tale signs when it is time to start forming a CoE to implement and promote automation best practices, standards, and governance models. They include:

  • An automation program that is scaling
  • An automation team that is growing
  • The need to monitor, track, and report on the performance of your automation estate, and
  • The need to implement a proactive and agile change management strategy to minimize automation outages.