RPA impatience destroys long term impact
Patience is a virtue when it comes to RPA projects
By Nick Andrews, executive chairman, Virtual Operations
from C-Suite Guide Part 3 – RPA Pitfalls and Perils
In our RPA C-Suite Guide Part 1 and 2 we explored our top 10 tips for embarking on an automation journey and how to choose the right automation partner. In part 3 our executive chairman Nick Andrews turns his attention to the pitfalls and perils that organisations most often encounter when they implement robotic process automation. This blog discusses Pitfall 2: Impatience.
RPA Pitfall 2: Impatience
Jump in and look for the low hanging fruit
When organisations embark on a process automation project, it is tempting to jump in and look for low hanging fruit or even go after a ‘big-bang’ solution. The hope is that this will gain momentum, prove the concept, demonstrate low-risk levels and release funding. This is the enthusiastic approach we encounter most often and, to an extent, it can be made to work, but not if using inexperienced practitioners (pitfall 1: link). However, we strongly advise not jumping in too soon or going after a ‘big-bang implementation without a clear idea of how to manage it and what follows next.
Automation works best when it is seen as part of a Process Excellence or Transformation Programme, when it’s wider impact is understood and managed and the wider benefits are measure. Organisations must account for the fact that it will be disruptive and its impact will be likely felt more deeply in the organisation than first anticipated. As such you need to plan for stakeholder and change management in general and understand your specific automation business drivers in order to truly measure the impact of the change. Process Automation for the sake of it, for example as an FTE reduction exercise will soon disappoint.
Strategic RPA succeeds where tactical RPA fails
Without a clear Automation Strategy, Automation Programmes become a series of random process by process automation projects with little cohesion, no setting of priorities and nothing to measure success against. What starts out as a ‘transformational’ initiative rapidly becomes a mess often with large scale disruption and costs far outweighing benefits. This lack of success and progress can mean that organisations decide not to continue with the automation of process which if done properly can improve their businesses.
So how does an organisation counteract the urge to forge ahead?
DEVELOP A STRATEGY AND A PLAN
The first step is to recognise that you are heading towards this pitfall, and plan for it.
You will not be ready for Automation at scale until you have the following in place:
- Automation Strategy Business Case and Plan
- Infrastructure (usually within the data centre, H/W, VM ware Networks security++)
- Trained resources (including a Centre of Excellence)
- Methodology (tools templates and practitioner guides)
- Good governance procedures and buy-in where required.
Building an Automation Strategy takes just days and establishes not only the objectives but provides clarity around the enterprise-wide business case and how the programme will be delivered (what, when, who, and how fast).
The strategy should also consider which technologies should initially be deployed, and the plan should have three distinct phases as outlined in the timeline diagram: initialisation, industrialisation and institutionalisation.
Not surprisingly, impatience can be a direct result of Pitfall 1, inexperience. However, it can also be culturally embedded in your organisation. If nothing else, taking a little time out to develop and strategy and a plan up front will weed out those parts of the organisation that appear more impatient than others – better you know now where you might have some expectation management to do later.
Want to know more? Here’s a link to the other pitfalls in CSuite Guide part 3.
Or why not click to read more about the Virtual Operations training academy.