It is no secret that the automation of processes hold the potential to increase productivity and efficiency of businesses the world over. Many menial and tedious tasks can be performed in a quick and timely manner, especially since automated processes do not need to stop unless external factors come into play.
However, many often overlook the crucial steps towards reaping the long-term rewards of automation. One such step is the understanding that there can be no RPA (robotic process automation) without process.
While it might be tempting to immediately jump on the bandwagon and implement automation as a quick fix for your business, inadequate preparation can lead to a hard and fast failure. RPA needs to be built organically over time in order to gain the maximum benefit. RPA saves businesses time and money, reduces rework, improves accuracy and frees employees from menial tasks, provided you take a strategic approach to implementation and scaling up.
One approach to implementing RPA properly is by viewing the organisation through a wide lens. By seeing the big picture and understanding the end-to-end processes first, you can identify and prioritise the areas for improvement. Having a clear documentation of current processes will help in assessing variances to determine how to apply RPA correctly to its maximum potential.
This will clean up any waste and redundant measures that might be slowing your organisation down, while identifying business areas that will benefit most from RPA. It is always ideal to optimise first and automate later so that you will not be doing the wrong things faster.
Robot are also not as robust as humans. When a robot fails, it will fail repeatedly. This is why using modelling to drive the implementation of automation is critical. It is far easier and cheaper to test and fix a model than to realise a final implemented process isn’t working as intended. Through modelling, you can prioritise and guarantee the dependability of your final automated process before you make the mistake of rolling out a system that does not work.
One of the many misconceptions that exists regarding RPA is that of robots replacing human workers. It is easy to see why these concerns are taking the forefront in many discussions surrounding automation. However, if RPA is implemented correctly, it can help augment human workers and have a positive effect on the workplace. It will also liberate employees from more monotonous tasks so that they can focus on more engaging work.
It is important to stress that RPA cannot replace creative thinking, strategic planning, long-term projects, product development or customer research. Always communicate with employees and build internal support for RPA to avoid speculation and rumours about the intentions of introducing automation.
Once the automation rollout is complete, it is crucial to monitor the execution of the redesigned process. Any return on investment can only be proven by measuring results over time, so monitoring the results of your RPA solution against its expected value is of utmost importance in ensuring value for money is being achieved.
Having an automated system in place does not mean you can simply “fire-and-forget”. RPA systems must be monitored continuously in order to identify any issues and resolve them as quickly as possible. Unlike human beings, RPAs will not change or evolve naturally without any input. The only way to ensure that peak performance is maintained is if we continually refine the automation process.
There is still a long road ahead before enterprise-level automation becomes truly widespread, but the benefits of implementing it properly and with care far outweighs the unsustainable results of utilising automation haphazardly for short-term profit.