The success of your organizations in today’s age is dependent on how efficient, forward-thinking, and adaptive you are. How your employees are being utilized is also a large contributing factor. Do they spend the majority of their time doing productive or creative tasks, or on repetitive and mundane tasks? Most organization waste the precious time of their knowledgeable worker by bogging them down with trivial administrative tasks when their time could be better spent building core competence, generating ideas for growth, or creative tasks. Thus, organizations of all sizes—small, mid, and large—are looking into robotic process automation adoption. Process automation helps your knowledge worker to focus on the tasks that matters. That is the reason process automation is the first step of digital transformation journey. Keep reading to learn how to implement robotic process automation in your organization.
Depending on available resources, expertise, and where you are in the digital transformation process, there are three main options for robotic process automation adoption strategies: bottom-up (also called “grassroots”), top-down (also called Center of Excellence (CoE)), or hybrid (also called “sandwich”). Let’s look deeper at each RPA implementation strategy.
A grassroots approach is bottom up. Individual small robots will be created for your team members who do not necessarily have technical knowledge to automate their repetitive tasks, so they can focus somewhere else. Individuals are responsible for their robots. You should identify the individual process that provides direct benefits to your organization. These processes are typically called “low-hanging fruits,” and are automated early in the process. Therefore, a center of excellence (more on that below) is not required to manage or maintain.
Initially, you may not see the value in the grassroots approach automation. But you will see the value increase for large implementations. As more processes are automated, there is a sudden spike in the value. Small and mid-sized organizations use this approach to evaluate process automation and its value. The grassroots approach does not require you to form a team and gather resource that you may need for the center of excellence. Individual process owners are the owners of robots. RPA business process analysts work directly with process owners to automate their repetitive tasks. Common use cases of grassroots tasks are invoice entry, small administrative tasks, or taking notes.
For the organization to implement RPA at a scale, a top-down approach is needed. This robotic process automation adoption strategy is more complex than a grassroots approach. CoE helps organizations adopt RPA deeply and effectively at scale. Typical implementation of a center of excellence looks like any software integration process: planning, discovery, design, development of robots, testing, and release. Organizations typically form the CoE team who is responsible for embedding and implanting the process automation at the organization level. It helps the organization to access, evaluate, and maintain the RPA at the organization level.
Center of Excellence brings people from different departments to collaborate, create a knowledge base, and implement RPA. CoE team is responsible for providing training, best practice guidelines, and necessary resources to adopt the RPA at department level.
You can implement CoE three different ways:
In a centralized model, one CoE team is responsible for interacting with different business units. They are centralized governing bodies for automation initiatives in the organization. In a federated model, you can create CoE teams for each business unit, which will be responsible for interacting with each other for the common goal of the organization. In a hybrid model, you can create one or more CoE teams which can be responsible for one or more business units. You can choose any of the models depending on your knowledge and resources available as implementing CoE is a big undertaking.
When you combine both grassroots with CoE, you get a hybrid or “sandwich” approach. Typically, organizations will launch small robots which will provide value over time as more robots are created and start the large implementation in parallel. This helps organizations define the long terms innovation and automation plan. Many organizations start by implementing small robots to get a feel for automation, or get immediate value from bots. Once they see success, they start forming a team which works towards the goal of full-scale automation. Eventually, you will have small robots which are in production, adding values right away to your organization. These robots can also be part of large robotic process automation adoption process in future.
The typical road map for this implementation goes from isolation, to support, to integrated, to strategy. Individual business units or teams will create their own robot in isolation mode. Once developed, these robots need to be supported. As more and more teams create their small robots, the integration phase comes in and creates a bigger process automation. Then, the next thing to happen is a tipping point in the organization; management becomes more aware of the robotic process automation and sees the value it adds for a more strategic approach. As part of the coalition between management and individual teams, it is also setting up the center of excellence.
Different organizations use different robotic process automation adoption approaches depending on their resources, internal team expertise, and where they are in the digital transformation process. Based on our experiences helping clients in robotic process automation, you should start by hiring third party vendor of building initial grassroots robots. Once you see the success and benefits of robots, you should start forming a team of CoE, which can include RPA technology experts and your business process experts. This will increase the chances of your digital transformation being successful not only in the short-term, but long term, as well.