RPA is not just about tool selection
Overcome your RPA inexperience with expert help
By Nick Andrews, executive chairman, Virtual Operations
from C-Suite Guide Part 3 – RPA Pitfalls and Perils
In our RPA C-Suite Guide Parts 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 4: Inexperienced Buyers.
RPA Pitfall 4: Inexperienced Buyers
The right independent partner will make all the difference
This is a rapid-growth and much discussed market. Everyone seems to have an opinion but very few actually have deep automation experience.
The choice and range of technologies available is bewildering and increasing almost daily. There are few sophisticated buyers and fewer still competent advisors to guide them (despite claims to the contrary). This is partly why we advocate the three phases to scale approach. We believe there is no point in market testing, nor in conducting Proof of Concepts (POCs). The leading RPA tools are converging in functionality so the choice often boils down to availability of resources and how you are going to deploy the tool internally. Commercially there is little between them for large scale deployment.
To guide you through the myriad of options we have written a separate paper on how to choose your Automation Partner.
Buyers that are inexperienced in RPA could fall into the trap of following traditional technology selection methodologies – POCs, tool selection, price negotiation etc. before embarking on a full project. This goes hand in hand with pitfall 3, incomplete assessment teams and in our view, is not the right approach.
So how does an organisation overcome RPA buyer inexperience?
CHOOSE YOUR PARTNER CAREFULLY
Look for a technology independent ‘strategic’ partner who can help you longer term
If you accept the premise of our argument in pitfall 3, that there is a role for independent consultants in your joint agility team then you need to consider how to choose an automation partner that will help you get significant advantage from RPA.
Our opinion is that you should choose an automation partner that will:
- Dedicate an experienced team to you for at least 6 months
- Train you formally and work alongside you in “Joint Agility Teams”
- Transfer knowledge
- Provide a proven and complete automation methodology
- Be capable of applying automation both strategically and tactically
- Have experienced change management and Automation strategy consultants.
Your first Automations will be tactical and are likely to involve RPA only. Your partner will be able to advise you which of the major technologies available is right for you and this will be based largely on how you wish to deploy and pay for the product. Working with your partner, you will also need to consider the future and assess which products are likely to still be in the winner’s circle in years to come.
At the last count, there were over 35 ‘leading’ Automation products covering:
- Robotic Automation (unattended)
- Machine learning (AI or IA)
- Chat Bots
- Desktop Automation (attended)
- True Artificial Intelligence (Deepmind Watson)
It is impossible to pick the right blend at the outset. Our recommendation is to choose the RPA tool which best fits your purpose for the Pilots and finesse the technology suite as you gain in experience and confidence. A likely path is to take an RPA (from UiPath, WorkFusion, PEGA, Blue Prism or Automation Anywhere), work with one technology alone and then look for extra functionality post pilot phase. Remember that, despite the smoke and mirrors, machine learning / cognitive tools are almost exclusively being used where the data is analogue and/or unstructured.
However, when you make the switch from Tactical to Strategic Automation it is the AI tools (in combination with RPA and Desktop) from which the greater business benefits will be delivered. Complex business process automation involving such techniques as workforce intelligence, trend analysis, data mining and big data correlation require these tools to be combined.
If you wish to issue an RFP (ITT) it makes no sense to seek tenders for simple automations (as is the case for most we have seen). Instead you need to understand your short, medium and long term objectives and look for a partner who can be with you for as much of the journey as is required.
Remember that most of the large providers are now overstretched to breaking point and are NOT looking to train your staff. They are also not able to dedicate experienced resources because they need the few they have, to oversee multiple projects. (This is what we refer to internally as Homeopathic Automation – where the efficacy is diluted too far).
RPA can deliver tremendous results for your business. But it is easy to go down the wrong channels, wasting time and resources. The right help can get you where you want to be faster.
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.