Do I need a roadmap to implement intelligent automation?

Do I need a roadmap to implement intelligent automation?

Companies that begin intelligent automation projects (RPA) believe that the processes they are focused on should be able to improve overall costs, increase productivity, and are relatively simple to implement.    As a result, they believe that the project should be straight-forward, and they jump in and get started without defining a plan for the Intelligent Automation (RPA) project.   In this article, we will attempt to identify the pitfalls of getting started with Intelligent Automation with very little or no planning.

 First, let’s look at the key assumptions that companies pursuing Intelligent Automation are considering:

  • Increasing productivity while reducing overall human error
  • Facilitating total visibility into RPA transformations through change management.
  • Creating a center of excellence to track changes and prioritize the RPA activities.
  • Allowing decision-makers the knowledge to select the right automation projects in which to invest.
  • Increasing the overall value of the company through automation.
  • Managing the backlog of projects and prioritizing based on value to the company.
  • Scaling the automation program as new projects are added to the pipeline.

Many Intelligent Automation projects are doomed to fail if a RoadMap or a plan is not defined:

  • Companies believe they can see the value and think that a plan is not required.   A proof of concept (POC) executed without a plan doesn’t allow the organization to consider what happens after the POC.
  • Senior executives have not been brought into the Intelligent Automation project in a timely fashion and are reluctant to require their teams to implement another new technology.  As a result, after the initial proof of concept, the project stalls and goes nowhere.
  • Employees may become concerned that the new Intelligent Automation will ultimately replace their jobs, and through staff reductions, their positions would be eliminated.  If Intelligent  Automation is sold correctly,  employees will understand that the automation reduces the manual effort required, while in turn, freeing them up to work on other more critical projects.
  • The cost of entry is relatively low.  Companies can quickly begin a proof of concept with very little out of pocket investment.  While this sounds good on the surface, the low-cost entry point makes it very easy to abandon the project if senior management and the staff are not on board with the entire AI process. 

How do I go about creating a roadmap for Intelligent Automation?

  • Educate yourself on Digital Transformation.  Remember that Intelligent Automation is straightforward; however, the concept can be easily misunderstood.  Make sure everyone understands that RPA is different than macros and scripts. 
  • Identify Key Stakeholders. Talking to the appropriate individuals early in the process provides a strong foundation of resources. The key here is to make sure each stakeholder has a proficient understanding of RPA, its role in transformation and the relevant business requirements
  • Define the Vision. Once the stakeholders are identified and educated, you can align on a shared vision for the role of Intelligent Automation in your organization. 
  • Get the Information Technology Department on board.   Make sure the IT team is educated on your RPA initiative and are aware of the tasks at hand.  Get other divisions involved in the process to avoid getting held up in the governance phases of the project.
  • Identity Problems and Key Business Opportunities. Make sure you thoroughly access your processes.  Process experts should be required to verify and sign-off on all the assumptions.   Document each piece of the automation as well as steps needed to assist the development team in creating the automation.
  • Develop and Configure the Solution. Ideally, development follows the steps to build the automation from the ground up. The first is application modeling, a critical step to ensure that the RPA tool of choice can interface with the desired business applications.  The second is object creation, in which the actual interactions are developed. Lastly, in process creation, objects are pieced together into an automation workflow according to business rules.
  • Test, and then test again.  RPA involves many interconnected systems operating across various environments. To ensure a smooth deployment, align your test and production environments as closely as possible.  Be sure you are very thorough.  Include SME’s and end-users in the final testing process.  Proper testing will help improve the outcome and success of the project. 
  • Move to Production / Deploy. When it is time to deploy, make sure you have checked off each of the prerequisites to going live. Communicate with other departments that are upstream and downstream of the automated process.
  • Monitor and Analyze. After you deploy, you should continuously monitor the automated process to ensure alignment with your expectations.  A plan should be developed that outlines the key metrics that you hoped to achieve.     Always look for opportunities for improvement in current and future the processes.