We are still in the early days of robotic process automation, where many companies are sold on the concept, but are waiting to see positive results in profit and loss statements.
The good news is that we are starting to see the first examples of forward-looking organisations, which took the leap first and are ready to share their war stories.
One such publicly-listed organisation, which was advised by Mindfields from its early strategy stage to execution, is now in the position of having moved multiple automated processes into production in less than 4 months.
The project, troubles and all, is a valuable story for others to hear as they ponder their own steps into the brave new world of RPA.
The business case went through numerous revisions, some of which were positive and some negative, while technology and audit issues also threatened the project at times.
Through it all three things did not change:
- Our consulting fees
As part of our ongoing knowledge series, our webinar with Lee Ward will provide an honest account of her experiences on a Rapid RPA implementation.
8 Key Takeaways from my Rapid RPA engagement
- Involve all potential stakeholders
RPA projects should be driven by the enterprise, not as an isolated IT or business division led project. Broad engagement helps in avoiding any blockers or surprises which would crop up to add to the time and cost.
- Minimise set up and learning costs
Try to learn as much as possible from other organisations’ RPA projects, it is not always necessary to inflict all the tough lessons on yourself.
- Share and share alike
Most importantly in this vein, it really helps to give your lessons learned back to others in the community too. This is not about giving up state secrets, Lee is doing this through our webinar, and we always make a point of introducing our new clients to existing ones, so they can exchange their experiences … it helps immeasurably.
- Success and Fixed base pricing for external consulting organisation
Most clients’ business cases for investigating new ways of working have crumbled under the weight of consulting fees. For this early work, insist on making it a fixed price consulting engagement. Hey … why am I cannibalising my own revenue?!
- No Proof of concept (PoC) needed for fictional processes
PoCs are required when any concept is new, but there are now more than 3,000 global organisations that have already implemented RPA. Therefore no money and time should be wasted on an unnecessary PoC. We automate 80% of real processes in the initial phase using multiple RPA software for selection purposes. These can be moved into production immediately with a little effort. Have a PoC which should result in "Production ready" automated process.
- RPA software/tool selection
RPA software/tools should not take more than one week to automate initial processes and they should not have a lock-in period of more than one year. Most importantly, they should be priced reasonably, think of it like buying your first car, you are learning and may take a few bumps … so hold off on the Ferrari for now.
- Automate smartly
No RPA tool will meet all of your business requirements so you need to configure and utilise its functionalities smartly. Most RPA tools are still evolving so they will soon catch up with any functionality or feature they are currently lacking.
- Automate the “gain area” not “pain area”
One of the main objectives of Rapid RPA is to generate business savings, which can then be invested in automating complex processes in the later phases. Do not get emotional and try to automate a complex process in Phase 1 … it is too soon.
There are, of course, many more experiences to be shared in this rapidly evolving area, in addition to the ones I have outlined above. We covered most of which in our webinar hosted in December 2016.