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What is the best approach to Robotic Process automation (RPA)?

In my last article, I described RPA and outlined some use cases for Law Firms and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) providers. Here I look at the best approach to the use of the technology. 

Why choose RPA?

RPA is appealing because it automates existing proven processes, resulting in an accurately performed, repeatable operation, day in and day out. It is quicker to implement RPA than traditional software development because the existing process does not need to be redesigned prior to implementation because RPA uses the same programs and software interfaces a human does. Setting up an RPA tool allows existing business rules and controls to be followed, and the “virtual worker” can be assigned the same security and access as a human worker.

If you consider the benefits of RPA deployment and how these benefits translate into competitive advantages for your company, it is no surprise that all leading enterprises have or should be implementing it. Not only is implementation relatively easy (relative to software development/transformation projects) and non-costly, but the return on investment is rapid.

It is important to acknowledge that what drives these benefits is establishing a harmonious joint venture between human staff and technology. Currently, human employees are still the ones who schedule and oversee the realisation of automated processes.

What are the best practices for implementing RPA? 

  1. Select processes that can be easily automated with RPA – Please see What is RPA and how can it help? for examples of processes that can be automated for Law Firms and ADR providers.
  2. Get management and team buy-in - Estimating the Return On Investment (ROI) is essential to get management buy-in. RPA is not expensive. Factor the low costs into the significant upsides, which include employees spending more time on value-add tasks (being reskilled to execute those tasks) and fewer if any mistakes, giving your management team a very compelling argument to adopt RPA.
  3. Understand the processes - This is often referred to as process mining. Essentially this is looking for areas of process repetition and monitoring process performance. Once you have found some candidates for RPA, rank them by their estimated ROI.
  4. Improve the processes - Before you look to automate these processes, you must first determine whether they are necessary and if they are, assess whether they can be simplified. Many processes can grow organically as the business grows but often, they are not optimised.
  5. Choose your partners - There are many organisations that provide RPA services and solutions. Things to consider when choosing one are 1. The total cost of ownership; this includes initial setup cost, ongoing vendor license or service fees and maintenance costs. 2. Ease of implementation and control/calibration. 3. Security, often RPA is used to augment an organisation’s core software systems so security must be at the forefront of any partner choice. 4. Vendor experience, have they got experience delivering this to other organisations of a similar size? 5. Vendor support, what level of support will you require once the bots have been implemented? Here you need to assess the technical competence of your own teams in order to determine the level of support you require.
  6. Develop your solution - Usually, a process map is created. Here subject matter expert input from your organisation is critical while preparing the process map. This is especially relevant if the process is not well documented. In our experience, a significant number of processes have grown or evolved organically and are therefore not well documented. Once the role of RPA bots in the process is clarified, RPA bots can be programmed.
  7. Test your solution - Create test scenarios – Here you need to verify the automation has been developed according to the business rules documented in the design documents. The key to having good test scenarios is to make sure they are clear, concise and cover each business rule. Test scripts are made up of numerous test cases with a variety of explicit outcomes. It is typically in an Excel format and will contain the test scenarios, input data requirements for testing the scenarios, expected and actual results, and a pass or fail column.
  8. Run a pilot - 1. Set targets for the pilot. 2. Clarify roles and responsibilities. 3. Run a live pilot. 4. Evaluate pilot results.
  9. Go live - 1. Design the governance of your new bot-driven processes. 2. Build a fall-back plan for example if the RPA solution requires rework after roll-out. 3. Communicate new processes to all relevant stakeholders and go live!
  10. Maintain the RPA installation - 1. Monitor results. 2. Recalibrate where and when necessary. 3. Record savings and results to inform future RPA projects.

By following these 10 best practices you too can avoid the mistakes that others have made when implementing automation tools!

If you would like to know more about the RPA and related consultancy services that Wyser offer, please contact us or read about all of our services, including AI and Automation here.