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How to Set Up Your RPA CoE

4 min read
Dec 14, 2020 10:30:00 AM

Surprisingly, many organizations well into their automation journeys are yet to set up an RPA CoE (center of excellence). This could be one reason why RPA (robotic process automation) is arguably past the peak of inflated expectations on the Gartner hype cycle, and slowly heading towards the next stop: the trough of disillusionment.


It's well-documented that RPA projects fail to deliver on their objectives, meaning automation teams are finding themselves unable to scale RPA and generate the anticipated ROI. One of the main reasons automation projects "fail" is because large organizations are inadvertently running islands of automation: siloed teams designing, planning, and deploying automations independently in specific lines of businesses or departments. Islands of automation cause inefficiency, an absence of knowledge sharing, and most importantly, a damaging cycle of duplicating mistakes that drive up costs from rework and RPA downtime.

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One of the most effective ways of improving stagnating RPA projects is to establish an RPA CoE.

What is an RPA CoE?

An RPA Center of Excellence is a dedicated cross-functional team responsible for identifying and deploying automated processes enterprise-wide. At their core, CoEs consolidate and harmonize automation initiatives for an entire business, ensuring you are meeting your RPA implementation's business objectives. They do this by gathering, assessing, and managing the necessary knowledge and capabilities needed to implement RPA effectively. They are also charged with a mandate to standardize, govern, and evangelize automation across the organization. To that end, RPA CoEs also provide training and define best practices, distributing this information across the enterprise to ensure that all automations are drivers for key business objectives.

The Reasons to Set Up an RPA CoE

RPA Centers of Excellence respond to a major problem; organizations are hitting automation roadblocks. RPA just isn't delivering the projected ROI defined at implementation, bringing to question the overall investment.

The reason? A maverick, self-interested approach to automation where each line of business fends for itself, causing poor planning, design, and missed requirements that lead to bot outages and unavailability. When bots have to be pulled out of production for maintenance, they're not executing the processes they were built to execute. The diminished returns causing RPA projects to "fail" are in large part attributable to RPA downtime, and ultimately the result of reactive, unplanned rework.

RPA CoEs can remove the barriers and challenges stunting high-quality, resilient automation development.

Fundamentally, CoEs are a central governance structure that provides the alignment, knowledge, and collaboration needed to foster high-quality development and resilient bots. An RPA CoE is what gets everyone moving in the same direction, maximizing bot availability. They are also the best governance model to enable shared ownership of automation between IT and the business; this has proved to be the optimal distribution of ownership.

How to Build an RPA CoE

  1. Define your Team

    An RPA CoE built for success comprises of professionals from different disciplines, including IT, the business, and development. These different personas each bring their unique expertise, which is essential in any automation governance structure. IT and development provide the technical knowledge and awareness of automation's limitations, while the business stakeholders are the process experts.

    At its most basic, an RPA CoE should consist of the following members and roles:
    • A business analyst or business process manager – They are the business process subject matter expert responsible for identifying automation opportunities, prioritizing them, and creating process definitions and maps for automation.
    • A solution architect (IT) – This IT stakeholder is in charge of defining the automation architecture and overseeing it from end-to-end. Their expertise is applied to the development and implementation phases of automation and selecting the best tools for the CoE's automation toolchain.

      They also validate automation opportunities that are identified because they understand the technical limitations of RPA the most.
    • A developer – The RPA or automation engineer responsible for developing, testing, and supporting the implementation of automated processes.
  1. Define a Governance Model

    While an RPA CoE provides the foundation for a centralized governance structure, a governance model still needs to be defined. The process for identifying, assessing, validating, and prioritizing RPA opportunities must be established. The templates and guidelines are needed to standardize how automation work is designed, communicated, and developed so that best practices are followed and lessons learned can be implemented to contribute to continuous improvement and de-risk operations.

    The RPA CoE's governance model determines change management strategy, a critical component of automation that can either increase RPA downtime or minimize it when done right.

    Learn 7 Ways to Optimize Your RPA's Governance and Maximize ROI
  1. Define the Tools That Will Make Up Your Automation Toolchain

    A common characteristic of islands of automation is that each automation team can be working off different toolkits. This not only drives up costs, but it can also lead to entirely different automation processes and incompatibility issues because these separate tools might not be able to "speak" to each other.

    Consolidating automation tools and defining one automation toolchain with the right solutions is the only way to promote the enterprise-wide visibility, alignment, and collaboration needed for an RPA CoE and automation in general to produce impactful returns.

How Blueprint Enables RPA CoEs

RPA CoEs are meant to be the vehicles that establish a centralized automation governance model for the entire enterprise. Beyond just defining one consolidated toolchain, they also need the tools that foster the alignment and collaboration that facilitate high-quality automation design and delivery at an enterprise scale.

Blueprint is the most powerful automation design environment available on the market that is purpose-built for RPA CoEs. Blueprint's Enterprise Automation Suite sits in the middle of your automation toolchain. It delivers the automation design, planning, risk analysis, and change management capabilities that an RPA CoE demands but can't find in any other solution. Blueprint also offers effortless RPA platform migration allowing you to eliminate islands of automation with the native ability to migrate all bots into one, consolidated RPA tool.

As your automation command center, Blueprint's Enterprise Automation Suite provides one centralized repository where all automation stakeholders can collaborate to identify, optimize, and prioritize automation work which is automatically packaged into a Digital Blueprint; the new, unique method to design and plan automations that drives high-quality development for maximum bot availability.

Watch the short demo video below to discover how Blueprint can enable your RPA CoE to drive high-quality automations that maximize your returns or get in touch with one of our solution architects today.

Image source: Gartner, Gartner Hype Cycle, https://www.gartner.com/en/research/methodologies/gartner-hype-cycle