Steps to Implement RPA Enterprise-Wide
Much like traditional software development, RPA requires strategic planning and management to work. RPA is an initiative, not a project, meaning that throughout each phase of your initiative it’s important to consider the enterprise context and the organizational objectives.
Like any journey, good preparation is key. Organizations that want to successfully implement RPA across their enterprise must look ahead and align business goals with enterprise constraints like rules, policies, procedures. The most critical elements to consider during the preparation process are:
- Business and IT alignment: Successfully implementing RPA is dependent on a strong relationship between business and IT. The business side ensures the RPA initiative is focused on creating business value, lowering operational costs, and gaining competitive advantages. While the IT side ensures these goals are met by meeting enterprise architecture and compliance standards through deployment.
- Strategic positioning: Implementing RPA must always be in-sync with the organization’s strategic direction, otherwise lower priority activities can take center stage and it will be incredibly difficult to scale later.
- Leadership is crucial: By selecting a strong implementation manager, the CoE can be focused on delivering on key aspects of the RPA implementation and ensure the proof of concept phase is successful.
- Cultural acceptance: It’s important that the RPA implementation is accepted by everyone in the organization since it will likely alter their day-to-day activities. For this reason, it’s critical to have a c-level champion to win over the organization.
- Enterprise competency: To implement RPA across the organization a commitment from the enterprise is needed to provide the skill sets that are necessary. Best practices usually include a Center of Excellence, C-level buy-in, and budgets.
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Step 1: Proof of concept
This first step should indicate whether or not implementing RPA is technically feasible. In this stage, organizations will shortlist tools, technologies, vendors, and controls to understand the right practices for execution. This phase should help the team understand:
- Which tool should be considered for automation?
- Should we have an in-house team or choose an external vendor?
- What kind of infrastructure will work best for the solution?
- What are the rules and regulations that we need to comply with?
- Do we need an automation tool or a scripting language?
At a glance, the key activities that usually happen in this phase are:
- Running the proof of concept
- Defining an RPA implementation model for the organization
- Building an automation team
- Selecting automation partners
- Developing frameworks for deployment, communication, and governance
Step 2: Pilot project
At this point, you want to know whether or not this is actually feasible within your development environment and the constraints of the enterprise, so you run a pilot project. Much like creating a minimum viable product in software development, you want to build an end-to-end solution that applies defined requirements, a detailed solution design, test scripts, and handover plans for the selected process.
In this stage, you want to include internal and external stakeholders who are surveyed for feedback at the end. The input they provide becomes a baseline for documentation, improvements, and areas of risk, ultimately aiming to revise the methodology and frameworks to build a stronger, scalable solution. This step should answer the question "how will we implement RPA?"
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Step 3: Going beyond the pilot project
During this phase, the organization is ramping up its use of automation. Champions should be engaging in activities that will help identify additional opportunities to implement RPA within the organization and showcase the process to a broader business audience.
The primary focuses of this step are:
- Target the right processes: RPA works best when it targets processes that have been optimized and selected by both IT and business analysts. It’s critical that your processes are visualized, designed, modeled, and optimized prior to automation because otherwise you may be stuck fixing inefficiencies which can cause significant project delays and very high maintenance costs.
- Establish best practices: Regardless of which RPA tool you end up using it’s important to establish best practices for documentation, governance, communication, adjustments, and many more. By establishing these best practices early on, you’ll be able to ensure that there is a smooth process for remediation if necessary.
- Continuing to grow the internal automation team: As the organization ramps up its use of RPA, the internal automation team will likely grow as well. It’s important to determine what additional roles the team will need in the future and budget for them accordingly.
Step 4: Scale across the enterprise
Now that you’ve gotten into a groove with RPA, the next step is to scale it across the enterprise. Implementing RPA at enterprise-scale is the best way to reap the full benefits of it. But this is perhaps the most challenging step in implementing RPA. There are several factors that have hindered enterprises looking to implement RPA such as lack of vision, absence of necessary talent, and processes that aren’t optimized.
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