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Scaling RPA

Many organizations are still struggling to scale their RPA workforce to a successful and mature part of their operations. Unlike traditional technologies, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) enables business owners to experiment with new technology in a relatively simple way and without major investment. However, when scaling the implementation, a more fundamental approach is required.

Arjen Beers & Roy Hamstra | October 2018

Over the last years, RPA has made its entrance into most organization driven by the need to further streamline their operations and improve efficiency. After successful Proof of Concepts and go-lives of the first bots this has not led to the expected results in the long run due to various reasons. Many promising Proof of Concepts typically have started by business owners, where business employees typically have demonstrated added value with only support by IT.

This typical approach leads to barriers in the longer term, when mandate and approach are lacking for a large-scale implementation. The full potential is often unclear, consequently leading to insufficient business cases to set-up architecture and infrastructure and risk and security management are usually insufficiently involved to evaluate typical risks involved. Significant resistance arises within the organization, and successes and enthusiasm are usually lost.

The following best practices come from organizations which were able to scale their RPA efforts to achieve and exceed expectations.

Set a bold ambition
Organizations that achieve scale in RPA set out a bold ambition for their digital workforce and make conscious choices to achieve it. The following steps should be considered:

  • Think broad – Robotics should be adopted across the whole enterprise to maximize benefits
  • Think big – Make your target significant, leverage RPA fully, then incorporate cognitive automation
  • Think benefits – Look beyond headcount reduction and aim for the top line, and for quality and compliance through robotics
  • Think high – Get your C-suite on board. Speak to them as they are likely to be supportive of RPA adoption

Build a strong foundation
Higher-performing robots operate leaner, less error-prone and less customized processes. They are designed and operated by agile, effective teams. Strong foundations must be in place to achieve these outcomes, creating highly adaptable robots that work alongside an engaged human workforce. Make sure to incorporate the following best practices:

  • Focus on process – Invest in defining the process in detail and keep it simple as process complexity drives robot complexity
  • Gain IT buy-in – Secure IT support from the outset. IT are often less supportive to RPA and this can be a major obstacle to a successful implementation
  • Engage your people – Build automation with and for your people, so they understand it and feel the benefits. This will help keep resistance to RPA low 
  • Make it a transformation – Scale RPA by treating it as a transformation not an experiment and recognize that you will need to invest and to partner

Achieve high velocity change
Leaders in RPA operate with an agile approach – they make quick decisions and get on with it. Their fear of failure has reduced since they know that any problems will appear soon and can be addressed quickly, and they are willing to cut through organizational barriers. Their challenge now is to capitalize on the increased speed of doing business that their digital workforce has delivered. The following steps help in achieving this:

  • Get lean – Plan your digital workforce to be fast, scalable and able to work 24x7. This workforce is a source of competitive advantage for those who get it right 
  • Build a responsive support organization – Establish the right kind of support for RPA with ownership from your operation and co-ordination across the enterprise
  • Implement right-sized governance – Make it decisive but flexible. An agile approach works best and effective governance is essential for scaling robotics
  • Become agile – Adopt agile ways of working and a digital mind-set to enable you to take full advantage of robotics
    Conclusion: gaining advantage through your digital workforce 

While implementing robotics will take effort and investment, the prize can be very significant if you get your ambition, foundations and agility right. We recommend you consider these carefully from the outset and establish an ambition and a model that will enable you to deliver at scale and manage your digital workforce in a fast, fluid and agile way. The prize is not only a cheaper, faster and higher-quality workforce for those rules-based administrative tasks, but the opportunity to establish a mind-set and momentum that enables you to progress further and faster on your overall digital journey.

Learn in only 1 day to understand the opportunities and the impact of RPA

Do you want to learn about the added value and impact of Robotics on your organization? Deloitte has developed a training for organisations with ambition to learn about the added value of Robotics and as a foundation for a typical RPA journey. Please have a further look: Robotic Process Automation (RPA) course

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