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The 7 commandments of assuring a successful automation journey

June 4, 2019 - Surbhi Sharma

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Introduction

While organizations from all parts of the world seem to be smitten by the benefits of Robotic Process Automation (RPA), surprisingly, only a few have succeeded at harnessing it to their advantage. As per a Forrester report, the RPA market is expected to grow to $2.9 billion in 2021. The market was valued at only $250 million in 2016. Many research firms anticipate that the RPA market will grow at a CAGR of over 36% and that the market size would cross $8 billion by 2023!

By automating recurring costs, enterprises have experienced more productivity, enhanced efficiency at lowered costs. Although automation has become an everyday term, the results indicate that not everyone has tasted success with it. If automation is slated to be the next best thing, with enterprises across the world vouching for its impact on their businesses and economy, why is it that we are yet to realise the full benefit of automation? Why is it that only a few have been able to make the most out of it?

Why do automations fail?

Automation is that one word, which always creates excitement amongst business leaders, CIOs and the likes. Though, it has become a buzz word in leadership communications and strategic meetings, little have the industries experienced in terms of automation success and ROI. Getting processes automated and doing so successfully are two very different things.

Though vendors and service providers lure customers by calling their RPA solutions as easy to implement and maintain, it is easier said than done. As per a recent report by KPMG and HFS Research, there’s a significant gap between expectations and reality in the RPA space. While enterprises understand the benefits of RPA, the study found that many are not yet ready to implement it effectively, with only 13% of enterprise RPA initiatives achieving scale across the entire organisation, according to their survey.

While automation has become imperative to stay relevant in the market today, it would yield results, only when processes are automated the way they should be. Currently, enterprises are approaching automation as a short-term plan, without aligning people and implementing effective change management. Effective roll-out of RPA calls for adhering to certain practices, which ensure smooth implementation and success.

So, what does it take to taste success with automation?

 As automation is known to significantly improve business response time, efficiency, accuracy and reduce man hours spent on time-taking repetitive tasks, organizations may want to automate every process. But it is advisable to plan it better and make the best use of time and resources needed to implement automation. As many organizations move to build their automation capabilities, there are certain best practices that help differentiate successful efforts from others.

Here are some of the best practices that could help you realise success in your automation plan.

  1. Select the appropriate process to automate: Automating the right tool makes all the difference. There could be hundreds of processes in an enterprise across many departments. It is therefore, very critical to choose to automate processes that would yield the best results. It can be a challenge to qualify and prioritize processes in an automation roll out. But this decision is usually based on two factors: 1) the value achieved by automating the process and 2) the feasibility of automating that particular process.
  2. Pick the right tool: The kind of tool you choose is critical to decide the result you seek. Though there are various tools available in the market, you must choose the one that best suits your organizational needs. Also make sure the you choose a tool, which is easier to use so that even the non-technical users can use without depending on external consultants.
  3. Define the purpose: Organizations spend a substantial amount of time and money on automation and therefore, it is important to know what you are headed for. Defining a goal helps us gauge the performance and ensure at every step, that the results are worth the investment. It is important to take up automation one step at a time, planning well in advance and keeping a watch on the process to ensure it achieves the goals set at the beginning.
  4. Be clear about everyone’s role: It is important to establish the roles and responsibilities of every stakeholder involved in the process. It is also equally important to set ownership and accountability within the stakeholders. Another important factor for the success of automation is to align the people and strategies with the new automated processes. As automation is for the people, it should reflect its human-centric approach at every step from planning to implementation to measurement.
  5. Train your teams: Before thrusting the users with the new automated processes, it is vital to train them to benefit. While automation is taking place, coach the staff and educate them about the basics of the platform, the reason behind each process being automated and the desired result. This helps align users with the processes and gets easy acceptance from people across the board.
  6. Work towards continuous improvement: Automation is not a one-time strategy. It is an ongoing process and needs to be relooked at each step and continuously improvised upon to achieve the desired results. Without this, it is not possible to enhance the efficiency and productivity of the organization. It is crucial to gauge the automation process time to time and make continuous amendments and corrections, in order the make the best out of it.
  7. Be prepared for the worst: While automation is carried out for the best of the organization, it is not always that everything goes smooth. But nothing must stop you. These are the times, you need to fall upon Plan B, wherein human intervention is required and you will have to manage the processes manually. All the processes you automate should be flexible enough to take manual instructions at times. This is an important factor, because we must remember one fact that after all machines can fail and therefore, we cannot completely rely on them, just because we have automated our systems. This is especially important, if you choose to go for an unassisted automation.

Conclusion

There are various factors that lead to the success of an automation process and each one must be taken into account when automating processes in an organization. If done without contemplating the good and bad, it would not provide the desired outcome. The above given seven commandments are the best practices to reap the benefits of your investment. Follow these best practices and assure automation success for your organization.

References:

https://www.hfsresearch.com/pointsofview/rpas-ticking-time-bomb-enterprises-and-service-providers-must-make-rpa-talent-their-top-priority-to-avoid-disaster

https://financesonline.com/8-best-practices-in-business-process-automation-bridge-gap/

http://www.doclogix.com/six-steps-towards-successful-automation-company-processes/

https://automationedge.com/ten-tips-successful-automation/

https://www.mitratech.com/resource-hub/blog/thinksmart-insider-tips-successful-automation-project/

https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/operations/our-insights/the-automation-imperative

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