Caution: RPA projects need an old fashioned approach
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 7: Not Planning for a Disruptive Program
RPA Pitfall 7: Not Planning for a Disruptive Programme
RPA projects should be managed as thoroughly as any other change program
Virtual Operations began as an automation systems integrator. It was quickly apparent to us that large-scale automation programmes require some old-fashioned disciplines. These include stakeholder management buy-in, not just from IT where security and systems performance issues are always concerns, but also from subject matter experts (SME’s) whose jobs may change and whose co-operation is essential. Add into that mix the process excellence teams who can be a great asset to automation programmes they feel part of. RPA projects that haven’t been seen to deliver the anticipated benefits often share the same attributes. We have discussed some of these in previous blogs: impatience, taking a tactical approach, unclear benefits definition, inexperience buyers etc.
Another common major failing is not planning for the disruption that an RPA project can cause in the same way that you might for any other programme of change.
How can you increase your chances of overall success?
PLAN FOR and MANAGE DISRUPTION
Don’t leave it to chance that you’ll get what you need, when you need it
The automation technologies that are currently available are in themselves relatively straightforward. However, managing the change in large-scale automation programmes is not. It surprises us that old-fashioned disciplines such as programme, stakeholder and change management are often overlooked. In our view they are critical to success and should be the responsibility of the Centre of Excellence. Contrary to what you might think, you cannot assume that SMEs are willing to part with their knowledge regardless of their future, nor are managers necessarily willing to release their people to participate in automation projects where the benefits extend beyond this year’s objectives.
Given that we advocate a strategic approach to automation (i.e. not the tactical ‘save one or two FTEs’ that many automation projects have), it should come as no surprise that we also advocate a proper change project culture. Those of you with experience in managing projects will know that relying on ad-hoc access to SMEs and other skills within the business is a recipe for delay, frustration and lack of long term buy-in.
Managing the business and the experts within it needs careful consideration. You should also embrace and get buy-in from your process excellence practice (Lean / Six Sigma) as their knowledge and understanding of your business processes should be totally complementary to an Automation project.
A key pillar in this activity is Communications Planning (clear, regular and often). Given that very few businesses have a surfeit of expert resources, you need to be clear about what you are doing, when and why and what resources you need from the various parts of the business to make the automation project(s) a success
Business-as-usual is often challenging enough. Adding a change programme into the schedule makes it even more so.
For RPA success, don’t be the one who fails to plan.
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.