This is a guest post by Frank Catone, global intelligence automation lead at Avanade. Avanade is an official UiPath partner.
One of the biggest hurdles that companies face when implementing Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is scaling. It's impossible to anticipate all of your future needs and obstacles from the very beginning.
Instead, the key to building agile automation at scale lies in preparing for what you can and being ready to make changes as your software robots mature.
Building automation at scale is challenging for many businesses. It means automation strategies need to be holistic but also leave room for growth, change, and re-examination. This ensures you can handle future challenges without sacrificing the immediate success of your pilot programs.
As we discussed at the FORWARD III event, the key to creating agile automation lies in embracing change. Doing this in the early stages of your digital transformation helps create a holistic approach.
Here, we'll share with you the three main considerations to keep in mind as your automation strategy matures:
1. Automation governance
2. Operating model success metrics
3. Roadmap revisions
These three agile automation considerations help you build a strategy that grows with your company for years to come.
Your automation strategy is only as agile as the people pushing it forward. By pulling together with a group of RPA evangelists and experts who embrace change, you're able to pivot your strategy as your goals and needs change.
This group of automation enthusiasts and its resources make up your robotic Center of Excellence (CoE). This CoE will ensure your automation strategy meets each critical success factor of digital transformation, which we’ve identified as the following:
Ideate: The CoE begins to take shape as you gather support from IT, human resources, and C-suite leaders.
Incubate: The CoE is in its early stages of functioning and can provide initial guidance for pilot programs.
Industrialize: The CoE grows beyond pilot programs and begins to automate more complex processes.
Over these three phases, your CoE will consistently deploy and maintain automation throughout the company.
The CoE and its members maintain this vision by regularly auditing the performance of your software robots. Your CoE members will also field requests for new automation opportunities from the bottom-up. They'll be in charge of ensuring these new automations align with your top-down business objectives.
Your CoE must actively track your success metrics to make sure your strategy stays on track. This active tracking of success metrics ensures that your operating models stay in-line with larger business goals.
Nailing down RPA key performance indicators (KPIs) takes time, trial, and error. The KPIs that tracked success in your proof of concept (POC) or pilot program likely won't translate to your larger, more complex goals down the road.
You can better see how you align with your long-term automation goals by updating your success metrics during the ideate and incubate phases. During your ideate phase, your CoE will track metrics related to your pilot programs. In the incubate phase, your RPA team should adjust the success metrics to monitor how well your automations are scaling.
Some of the metrics that businesses may want to track and change their goals around include:
Full-time equivalents replaced
For example, in the beginning, your main goal may be to drive down error rates. Over time, when error rates go down, your C-suite may shift its focus to driving down cost metrics. A regular review of your operating model success metrics ensures that you're showing stakeholders the ROI of automation.
This ongoing updating of success metrics ensures your operating model remains in-line with overall corporate goals.
The journey to becoming an intelligent enterprise will change as your automation journey matures. Using the advice of your CoE and the metrics from your operating model, you should regularly revise your roadmap to success.
By embracing the data from the ideate and incubate phases, your company can shift its journey to becoming an ‘automation first’ enterprise that puts technological innovation first. Some of the areas where your digital transformation may change include:
Automation vision: The initial quick wins of your automation strategy will give way to longer-term, top-down automation goals, such as improving long-term employee retention and satisfaction.
Digital workforce strategy: In the beginning, your goal may be to automate ‘low-hanging fruit’ processes. As your automation strategy matures, you'll begin to work toward the larger goal of a robot for every person.
Process evaluation: How you select pilot processes for automation is different than how your CoE will select which complex processes to automate.
Business case: As you move along your automation journey, you will need to adjust your business case. In the beginning, your case will likely focus on tackling backlogs but will shift to look at more forward-looking goals such as cost reduction.
Implementation roadmap: At the beginning, your automation roadmap will focus on easy-to-achieve, high ROI processes to build momentum. As your CoE and automation goals mature, this roadmap should expand to include longer-term, more complex goals to help you implement new robots.
Tool selection: Over time, your automation ecosystem will become a more complex and holistic environment. Your future automation strategy should weave in smart automation tools like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
There are many different paths to automation success, and your company will likely change course as you analyze and implement automation learnings along the way. The key to smoothly handling course corrections lies in building in space for change from the beginning.
No matter where you are on your automation journey, UiPath and its network of partners can help you grow. Partners provide a collective of expertise and resources, enabling any company to meet its goals today—and tomorrow. Your automation partner will work with you from day one to help you measure success and take advantage of each automation opportunity.
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