4 Things To Do Before Starting an RPA Initiative
At my company CampTek Software, we work with many RPA Partners at various stages of their RPA Journey. We have clients that are well under way building a COE and have many automations that run 24/7 as they pursue their goal of end to end automation for their enterprise. We do however have clients that are starting their journey, which can involve several phases.
- The “What is RPA?” phase.
- RPA could work for us, but does it make financial sense right now?
- We are all in, lets get our first POC done.
For phases #1 and #2, I will refer you to our Blog page as there are many posts that address those concerns. In this post I am going to focus on point #3 and identify specifically what you need to have in place before starting an RPA initiative.
1. Be realistic about a budget
While it may seem obvious to have a budget for an automation initiative, most companies engaging in an automation exercise for the first time rarely have an idea how much it actually costs. As I have said frequently, to produce and support a long lasting reliable RPA Process, it isn’t cheap. The RPA Software, Development, Support of the bots and the proper administration of an Enterprise Suite (i.e. UiPath) all bare a decent cost.
As a company we are frequently approached by potential RPA Partners that have been scorned by “low cost” developers who don’t provide the proper level of support. In addition, they have begun an internal initiative and realize it isn’t as simple as it seems. I usually say it takes about a year of full time RPA development experience to get to a point of proficiency even after being certified on a chosen platform. RPA Development is what I refer to as a “discipline”, while methods can be taught, rarely can someone understand the nuances of it without extensive experience. New adopters don’t completely understand this and frequently try to go the cheap route and it can lead to an ineffective or an unusable bot process.
2. Find a high value mature process
This is a point we consistently try to drive home to our RPA Partners. Its absolutely important to not only identify a “high value” process but also ensure that it’s one that is fairly mature. Meaning it’s not going to “change” as you are attempting to create an automated process. New processes are generally not preferable to automate as in many cases it introduces the “two points of failure” rule, meaning if you change the actual workflow or process you are essentially having to alter both the automation and the process in two places. Another rule of thumb is to make sure the process is consistent and defined. The expected inputs should be as consistent as possible regardless of the number.
3. Be realistic about what your organization can do
Frequently when we do our initial demo to RPA customers, we show a slide that says “70% companies leverage a third party to get started on an RPA project”. We usually follow up that statement, that the other 30% will eventually use a third party at some point. The reason for this is that RPA is complicated and getting certified isn’t enough. To set up an enterprise RPA Architecture requires both server and automation knowledge.
Granted anyone can create an automation, but not everyone can create one that is reliable and runs 24/7. There are so many nuances that can’t be taught entirely. We have rescued many of our partners who have either tried to hire cheap developers and/or they attempted to automate processes without knowledge or understanding. It ends up being a trivial effort and the impact of RPA is lost or not realized.
At CampTek Software we have a UiPath Orchestrator on Azure we offer to our customers. In addition to this we provide Bot Support for their existing processes. This can provide great benefits for a RPA Partner in several ways.
- Can reduce the cost of entry. As mentioned licensing can be expensive. In addition many organizations prefer to outsource certain parts of their technology. Today with cloud based solutions like the UiPath Orchestrator, an external team can manage the administration and setup of the running bots ensuring they run continuously and do their job.
- Reduces the learning curve. Having a partner who can setup the Orchestrator and to maximize its value can make or break a RPA project, especially one that is the first one chosen.
- Since many modern day applications are cloud and/or web based, one can use a virtual machine environment to further expand on the “managed services” offering and truly go the BPO route and have a company like ours run, support and administer your Bots.
4. Think about a vetting strategy
In addition to choosing “high value” processes, you also need to figure out a way to decide to score and choose automation candidates. Some of our clients use their existing Lean process to identify and flush out process candidates. Others have an existing governance policy that goes through a selection committee to determine which are good candidates. This is really crucial because after the initial Pilot project the floodgates will open and all areas of the organization will present candidates for automation.
While there many factors to consider before starting a RPA initiative, these seem to be the ones that come up the most often.
Peter S. Camp is the CTO and Founder of CampTek Software. He has been developing RPA Applications for over 15 years. For further questions, discussion or inquiry about CampTek Software Services, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.