Operational Excellence

How do you start your RPA journey?

3-minute masterclass
3MM_RPA Journey
3MM_RPA Journey

In our previous 3MM on Robotics Process Automation (RPA) we gave some insights on which type of processes are best suited for RPA. Another question many company managers are facing is: “Where should I start and what will be the phases and steps in my RPA journey? Should I start small, or define a multi-year business case or why not immediately build my internal capability with the set-up of an RPA Center of Excellence?”

Our experience has shown that each organisation has been following their own growth path with mergers & acquisitions, leaving a legacy of applications and processes. They are therefore facing a different environment and looking for different type of benefits (see our first 3MM on RPA: What is it and what are the benefits). Therefore, any of the below activities can be a valid starting point because you will always perform these RPA activities at some point of your journey.

As shown in the picture above the RPA journey constitutes multiple activities. However, we recommend taking a first small step before fully jumping into the Intelligent Automation pool by kicking off with a pilot or proof of concept.

1) The proof of concept: start small and build gradually

The most common approach we see on the market
is to start with a Proof of Concept (POC). This enables to secure buy-in from
the organisation and prove through evidence multiple hypothesis:

  • Will the RPA tools be able to interact with my internal applications?
  • Will our IT team be able to install the software and required secure accesses in our environment?
  • What team and which skillset is required in order to design, build and test a robot?
  • What is the best method to deliver an RPA project?
  • How difficult is it to deliver an RPA project into production and does it really require limited investment and have a short return on investment period?

A POC can be delivered in approximately 2 months, following the 3 stages in the diagram below:

You need to start with a quick analysis of the activities and processes within one operational department in order to assess the potential for automation. The final goal is to identify a good candidate for the POC and perform all necessary detailed process analysis. Good examples are value stream mapping, detailing of the process flows and performing recordings which enable the acceleration of the POC delivery. Then, you need to automate the process to confirm the value and feasibility. At the same time, you will get a better understanding of RPA and its potential at different levels of the organisation. Ideally, we would go into production with this  process or in a test environment at minimum.

2) Build a business case to scale-up

We believe that after a first RPA experience, your organisation will be better equipped to build a full business case to go at scale. On the one hand, it enables you to identify and select which processes are meeting the criteria for automation and therefore what the full RPA potential is within a set of departments in your organisation. And on the other hand, it allows you to understand what will be the investment cost in terms of resources and profiles to build and maintain the bots, but also covering licenses, infrastructure needed, and further technical support.

3) Establish a centre of excellence

At this stage we are looking into scaling up our RPA capability and defining an operating model for a RPA centre of excellence (CoE). There are two different approaches, mainly being a centralisation or decentralisation of the competencies. Centralisation enables a high-level of standardisation and synergies while decentralisation allows to be closer to the end process owners with resources across the divisions.  

In both cases the CoE is expected to provide project accelerators by defining methods, templates, standards, estimation models and best practices. On top of these, we need to define
the roles and responsibilities between the CoE, IT and the business to perform the set of processes required to develop and run this virtual workforce such as:

  • Demand management: how to build a continuous pipeline or RPA product backlog
  • Maintenance and production support including activity tracking & monitoring
  • Technical support: access management, licenses, infrastructure, orchestrator – scheduling
  • Regulatory, security, data privacy, compliance requirements
  • Managing vendor in case of outsourced/partnership capability model
  • All delivery steps from documenting a process, scripting and testing to releasing into production

We have already supported organisations in testing Robotics Process Automation technology through short pilots as well as in investigating the full potential of automation and building long-term business cases and roadmaps. We never limit ourselves to what RPA can bring but also look into potential combinations with advanced intelligent technologies such as Optical Character Recognition, Natural Language Processing or Machine Learning.

Over the last years we have been helping banks and insurers to achieve the benefits of automations, more specifically, what a robotic taskforce can generate. Would you like to know more about RPA or our other service offerings? Don’t hesitate to drop us a message.