In a recent survey, 93 percent of C-level executives polled said they are deploying or extending automation capabilities in their organizations. Of those, 81 percent specifically indicated that RPA would play a significant role in scaling AI within their companies. But, while the vision of RPA as a technology that can quickly boost productivity and flexibility is undisputed, well-documented challenges continue to hamper leaders trying to expand RPA programs past a few early-stage wins.
Steven Gerhardt, CEO of Element Blue, a software solutions consultancy specializing in RPA in the healthcare industry, recently shared with RPA Today four foundational tenets that guide his discussions with some of the largest healthcare organizations in the world—especially those hoping to scale their implementations beyond just a few bots automating relatively simple processes.
Organizations that have managed to grow their RPA programs have done so by drafting a formal program plan and selling that plan internally to multiple lines of business and business functions, Gerhardt says. Strong communication with different lines of business mapping out how RPA can help them innovate will increase the likelihood of adoption in multiple areas of an organization.
“They have the access to and cooperation of people in many parts of the business enabling them to gain an understanding and influence change through education,” he notes. “A typical avenue is facilitation with an already functioning process improvement or innovation group alongside a culture of change for bettering the mission.”
Educating as many executives as possible on the impact they can have within the enterprise by leveraging RPA will enable its champions to develop and maintain a pipeline of projects they can prioritize and implement. Which leads to:
It takes more than sustained C-level buy-in to maintain momentum enabling scale. A vision of success has to emerge from disparate corners of the organization from management leaders who understand how RPA can affect both current business objectives and possibilities for the future. Involving champions who have internalized their automation successes and can contribute to education across the organization is a pass-fail grade in maturing an automation program.
“This is how you develop a culture and expression of automation in an organization,” according to Gerhardt. “Examples in our experience are the set of early business management leaders who have experienced wins and influenced a culture of automation. Influencers naturally build on early wins that promote automation literacy and its impact. Keep in mind, you can use RPA tools that promote and support adoption or ideation, but technology is not the silver bullet here. Sharing the success with all business partners will foster ownership and accountability.”
RPA experts know that automation can serve business goals, but scaling requires demonstrating this reality to a critical mass of company executives. Bring your champions together on a regular basis during the first year. Meet at least quarterly with company leaders who show engagement with the program.
3. The Inventory
From within the program, developing the proper backlog and review cycle is necessary. Create a set of criteria to test and select the processes that are feasible for automation.
ROI is vital, but it isn’t the only metric that bears on the success or failure of an automated process. Success is also dependent on the experience of the team involved in the implementation, the systems involved, how complex the process and, of course, ROI.
Each process in the pipeline, Gerhardt notes, should be evaluated based on these characteristics.
“Ask who, what, why and how for every process in order to determine its potential,” he says. “Incorporate the criteria from successful automations through the review cycle.”
4. The Blueprint
The proper business planning and procedures create a self-funded program. As you begin your journey with processes that are obvious candidates for automation, it will give you the experience you need to understand where you want to take your RPA program. Use that experience to develop a formal, written plan detailing the future key prospects for automation and business partners. This blueprint is where and how you want to utilize RPA over the ensuing 12 months. The document will be a vital tool you can use to sell automation across the organization.
“Chart a course with experience and a sustainable plan,” Gerhardt says. “Set out in detail a known number of automations, identifying processes you want to automate and the required resources. Map this into a project plan with known resources and deliverables and include both program development and automation project completions.”
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