Stop your RPA projects from going off track — or worse, failing to solve problems they were never capable of fixing. Enterprise architecture and technology innovation leaders should use this guide to position their RPA projects for success.

Overview

 

Key Challenges

 

  • Tactically focused robotic process automation (RPA) projects may improve quality and decrease activity cycle times by assisting or removing labor in or from activities. Cost reduction by eliminating head count is cited as a benefit of RPA; however, if employees are moved to other tasks, this area of cost reduction is not always achieved as planned.
  • The proliferation of automation and artificial intelligence tools and options continues to grow, which introduces a steep learning curve and general confusion around the term "RPA," along with the benefits it presents.
  • One software tool is unlikely to solve every unautomated activity in your organization.

Recommendations

 

To drive business transformation through technology innovation, enterprise architecture and technology innovation leaders must:
  • Identify and quantify the opportunities to use RPA for revenue-generating activities in addition to cost-saving or compliance activities. Do not just focus RPA on reducing labor costs. Carefully set expectations of what the tools can do and how your organization can use them to support digital transformation as part of an automation strategy.
  • Start with rule-based, standardized processes that cross multiple systems, which need a nonintrusive approach to automation. Evaluate RPA opportunities where you have people acting as "swivel chair integration" — rekeying data between systems — and where work is being performed by humans that involves structured, digitalized data processed by predefined rules. This analysis forms the basis for your enterprise automation roadmap.
  • Identify alternative existing tools or services, which already have a significant proportion of the functionality required at a suitable price point; evaluate these solutions in parallel with RPA, or as a hybrid solution; and look to future artificial intelligence-based options.

Strategic Planning Assumptions

By 2020, automation and artificial intelligence will reduce employee requirements in business shared-service centers by 65%.
By 2019, process automation will have limited impact on top-line growth for 50% of organizations that will erroneously focus on labor reduction, not on improving business outcomes.

Capitalizing on RPA

Business stakeholders are excited by the potential of a tool to reduce costs, increase accuracy, improve compliance and automate work in a fraction of the time and cost of typical IT software deployments.
The expectations of robotic process automation (RPA) are as large as the confusion about the technical capabilities of the RPA tools themselves. Understanding the functionality of RPA versus artificial intelligence is challenging, as business and IT are muddling the terminology, potential and reality of a new swath of tools.
Most organizations have a vast amount of tasks that are not automated for a multitude of reasons. RPA tools offer potential ways to automate all or some stages of manual rule-based processes that were previously not automated.
The most important first step is figuring out which use cases could be best solved by RPA. Enterprise architecture and technology innovation leaders can make these evaluations either alone or with the support of consultants, system integrators and business process outsourcing (BPO) companies.
Once the use cases are evaluated, enterprise architecture and technology innovation leaders can start to map automation needs to the RPA software available in the market and their partner service providers.

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